The City of Fresno’s Community Revitalization staff responds to approximately 25,000 complaints per year. Public safety is top priority. Calls are handled on a priority basis so if you call about an abandoned house, sewer leak or a green pool, you will generally get a quick response. The Division enforces the City’s Minimum Housing Code, which covers safety and livability requirements in housing.
Junk, Trash, & Debris
Fresno Codes state that it is a public nuisance for any owner or occupant to allow the accumulation, abandonment or storage of trash, rubbish or junk on private or public property. These conditions affect public health and result in dangerous and unsanitary conditions.
Inoperable and Abandoned Vehicles
Fresno Codes state that inoperable vehicles may not be kept in any residentially zoned area. It refers to any vehicle that is in an abandoned, wrecked, scrapped, junked, dismantled or partially dismantled condition. Additionally, this includes any vehicle that, because of mechanical defects or a wrecked or partially wrecked frame; having uninflated tires; no wheels; or lacking other parts necessary for normal operation.
Reports of “Dirty,” “Old,” or “Ugly” are not, by themselves a reason to presume the vehicle is inoperable. Vehicles in an inoperable state can easily become massive eyesores and can be considered a Public Nuisance in neighborhoods and on vacant lots where they attract and are dangerous to neighborhood children and animals. City Codes indicate that inoperable vehicles must be stored in a completely enclosed structure; i.e., a garage. The California Vehicle Code allows the City to remove a vehicle after proper notification is made to the vehicle owner and/or property owner.
If an inoperable vehicle is on City streets, the City’s Streets Division would handle its removal. Please report the vehicle to our One Call Center, (559) 621-CITY (2489).
City Codes state that grass and weeds higher than 10 inches in height within 200 feet of any building, recreational area, or street right-of-way is not allowed. The City’s Weed Abatement Program is a year-round effort to keep Fresno clean and safe. During the fire season, the primary goal is to prevent fire hazards and blight.
Weeds And Tall Grass Abatement Program
The City’s Weed Abatement Program is a year-round effort to keep Fresno clean and safe.
Each year, the Community Revitalization Division deals with approximately 5,000 property owners of vacant lots and lots with vacant structures in order to mitigate weed issues. Violations pose a significant fire hazard during the peak fire season. Property owners are asked to maintain their property THROUGHOUT the year and to keep their property free from dry grass, weeds, trash, and debris. This means that the owner must disk and/or clean their lots and ensure that they remain free from fire hazards and debris all year long. If a property is found to have a violation with no visible attempts for clean-up, the property is summarily abated. The property owner is then billed for the cost of abatement plus an administrative fee. The average bill totals about $500.00.
During the fire season, our primary goal is to prevent fire hazards and blight through proactive code enforcement. However, the program continues year-round to keep City-owned and privately-owned lots and parcels free from weeds, trash, debris, abandoned cars, tires, overgrown vegetation, and tumbleweeds.
The compliance rate by property owners has increased each year. We appreciate your interest and hope the information provided helps you understand the City standards for vacant lots and lots with vacant structures.
Thank you for doing your part to keep Fresno clean and safe!
The City of Fresno may require additional or more stringent abatement on certain properties because of special problems with terrain, land use, growth, location, or the fire history of the property. These standards apply to all weeds, grass, or other vegetation that is normally dry during the year, particularly in the summer, and all combustible rubbish. Standards also apply to all vacant and unimproved lots throughout the year, including those lots with vacant structures on them.
City Standards For Weed Abatement
The following are minimum abatement standards.
The City of Fresno may require additional or more stringent abatement on certain properties because of special problems with terrain, land use, growth, location, or the fire history of the property. These standards apply to all weeds, grass, or other vegetation that is normally dry during the year; particularly in the summer, and all combustible rubbish.
These standards shall apply to all vacant and unimproved lots throughout the year, including those lots with vacant structures.
This includes any alleys, sidewalks, park strips, or unimproved public easements abutting a property.
- Remove all rubbish, trash, trimmings, litter, tires, and combustible waste material.
- Disc all weeds, grass, brush, or other combustible vegetation according to the disking standards set forth below for parcels over or under five (5) acres.
- Remove all grass and other cuttings after mowing, hoeing, or cutting.
- Remove all sagebrush, chaparral, tumbleweeds, and any other brush or weeds which attain growth as to become a fire menace to adjacent improved property when dry.
- Make sure all windows are intact; board-up those that are broken.
- Make sure all doors are locked or nailed shut.
- If your property is fenced, make sure all planks or links are in good condition.
- If you board-up your structure(s); please do so with solid sheets of wood – scraps tend to be torn off easily.
- Secure all structures (garages, sheds, accessory buildings) on your property – not only the main building.
Disking Standards for Parcels UNDER Five (5) Acres:
- All disking work should be completed so that weeds, grass, crops, or other vegetation or organic material which could possibly burn, are substantially turned over so there is insufficient fuel to sustain or allow the spread of fire.
- Along fence lines and other places where disking may not be possible, hand work including mowing, weed-eating, or hoeing may be utilized.
- These areas must be free and clear of growth and dead vegetation.
- Disking Standards for Parcels OVER Five (5) Acres:
- In lieu of disking the entire parcel, firebreaks may be provided in such a manner that no single fire area shall exceed five (5) acres.
- Firebreaks shall be constructed in such a way as to be a continuous strip of land, which is clear of all combustible weeds, grass, stubble, rubbish, or other material, which would allow the travel of fire.
- Firebreaks may include fire-resistive vegetation, such as irrigated crops, ice plant, green ivy, and other live plants recognized by the City as being fire-resistive.
Provide 30-foot wide firebreaks around all combustible structures and storage areas.
- Provide 30-foot wide firebreaks along each side of any roads accessible to the public and around all brush areas.
- Provide 15-foot wide firebreaks along each side of fenced property lines, ditches, and creeks.
- Any parcel which is adjacent to developed property must have 30 foot wide firebreaks along the fence/property line Graded fire roads (not less than 15 feet in width) may be done in lieu of 15 feet width of disked firebreaks where specifically pre-approved by the City.
- Abandoned orchards, vineyards, etc., should be completely abated. No firebreaks are allowed
Non-irrigated pasture land being used for grazing must have 30 foot wide firebreaks with substantial cross-disking.
PLEASE NOTE: Should a fire occur due to the lack of weed and/or debris removal, the Fire Department may charge you for any and all firefighting costs incurred by the City.
Improper Parking: RVs, Boats, Commercial Vehicles
City of Fresno Codes state that trucks or trailers with the capacity of more than one ton and made by the manufacturer to be used for commercial use are not allowed to be parked on a residential zoned property. Recreational vehicles (RVs, tent trailers, and boats) or auto trailers must be stored in a side or rear yard enclosed behind a five-foot wall or fence. (Other restrictions may apply.) It is also illegal to park, store upon, or otherwise obstruct the public right of way (sidewalk, park strip, driveway approach, or alley) with a vehicle.
Fences may not exceed THREE feet in the front yard, or SIX feet on the side and rear yard. They must be constructed of materials that are consistent with the neighborhood and of commonly used materials (no scrap metal or any offensive material). Pool fencing is required around swimming, wading, and bathing pools with a depth of 18 in. or more. Green pools are a hazard to children and to the environment. Green pools also attract mosquitoes and can breed diseases such as West Nile. City Code requires all pools to be kept clean and clear.
Improper Zoning Usage
Zoning regulations define the type and location of businesses and housing throughout the City. The major categories of land uses are: commercial, residential, agricultural, and mixed-use. City of Fresno Codes do not allow a property to be used for a purpose other than what is permitted by its zoning.
Purpose of the City’s Zoning Ordinances to encourage, classify, designate, regulate, restrict, the highest and best location for, and use of, buildings, structures, and land for agriculture, residence, commerce, trade, industry, water conservation, or other purposes in appropriate places.
- Encourage the most appropriate use of land
- Conserve and stabilize the value of property
- Regulate and limit the height, number of stories, and size of buildings and other structures
- Regulate and determine the size of residential yards and other open spaces
- Regulate and limit the density of a city’s population by dividing the City into districts of such number, shape, and area as may be deemed best suited to carry out these regulations and provide for their enforcement
- Provide adequate open spaces for light and air and to prevent and fight fires
- Prevent undue concentration of population
- Facilitate adequate provisions for community utilities, such as; transportation, water, sewerage, schools, parks and other public requirements
- Promote the public health, safety and general welfare
Common Zoning Violations
- Outside Storage
Yards are not to be used as storage areas for unlicensed vehicles, building materials, tires, indoor furniture, appliances, or other items commonly known as junk. Excessive storage is unsightly, attracts mice, rats, and other vermin; and, may become a health problem.
Landscaping shall be maintained free of overgrown, dead, diseased, or other hazardous trees and vegetation. The property owner is also responsible for maintaining the land between the property line and the street (park strip).
Parking is not permitted on the front lawn, front yard, or corner-side yard. Parking is not allowed on the strip between the sidewalk and street, on the sidewalk, or over hanging the sidewalk. Parking must be on a hard surface.
Vacant and/or Blighted Buildings
If a property is vacant, it must be secured, especially if a complaint is received from PD, drug paraphernalia is found upon inspection, or if an open building is in close proximity to a school. The Division inspects and monitors over 500 vacant buildings throughout the City, ensuring that owners comply with City standards. Many of these residential, commercial, and industrial vacant buildings would significantly contribute to blight if the City did not require owners to actively maintain, monitor, and keep them secure.
The City’s Vacant Building Ordinance (VBO) is an effective tool for helping to remove blighted property from concerned neighborhoods.
According to the Fresno Municipal Code Section 10-617, open and vacant houses and other structures are deemed an “attractive nuisance.” Vacant houses, garages, and other structures must be secured so they may not be entered by children, vagrants, or animals.
The Ordinance also addresses the problem of vacant buildings falling into dilapidated, deteriorated, or hazardous conditions. Property owners are required under the Ordinance, to actively maintain, monitor, and keep secure all vacant buildings. This includes residential, multi-residential, accessory, commercial, or industrial structures.
Vacant buildings are often sites for illegal activities.
The cost of boarding up a house or structure prior to a problem occurring may actually save expense and legal issues! Frequently, people go into vacant buildings, kick holes in walls, graffiti, tear off fixtures, and break windows; as well as other illegal activities. These actions create costs and potential liabilities for the owner. Vacant buildings are also potential fire hazards. This is especially true in winter, when vagrants might enter an unsecured house and build a fire to keep warm. Vacant buildings are sometimes also used as drug houses and sites where prostitution occurs. Boarding up your vacant structure will help prevent these types of activities in our City.
Enforcement of this Ordinance
If enforcement of this Ordinance by the City involves any violations relating to a blighted building on an individual property; the property owner will be required to submit a Vacant Building Plan to the City every 6 months in order to demonstrate how the building and grounds will be brought into compliance and kept in compliance. The owner is also required to pay all applicable fees and fines. Failure to comply with the Ordinance may result in legal action against the property, its owners or agents, for fees, penalties, and all other costs incurred by the City while enforcing the Ordinance. All remedies to obtain payment for any enforcement actions shall commence and could include monthly late fees, liens, assessments, and/or result in possible demolition.
Code Enforcement Vacant/Blighted Registry
The City of Fresno passed a New Blighted and Vacant Building Ordinance that becoming effective on 6/19/15.Under Section 10-617, Blight Vacant Building Ordinance Para (b) (10). All buildings that are expected to be vacant for longer than thirty (30) days shall be registered at no cost, with the city as may be provided on a city website or web application. The registration shall include the identity of all record owners ,the street address of the vacant building, and a local contact, and shall be maintained only for internal use by the city. Vacant properties that are not registered on the City’, vacant property registry shall be subject to an administrative citation of $250 per month and/or possible legal action. Please follow the instructions on registering those properties mandated.
Dumping of trash and debris lowers the standards of our neighborhoods and continues to be a challenge throughout the City. It is one of the most frequent complaints from citizens. The Division collaborates with the State,
Fresno PD and local authorities identify and prosecute illegal dumpers.
The objective of any community is to remain free of unsightly debris and junk which only add up to visual blight. Through the Division’s effort, the City aims to improve the appearance of neighborhoods. The goal is to make each neighborhood within the City visually pleasing, and allow for property values to be maintained.
Illegal dumping continues to be a challenge and is one of the most frequent complaints from citizens. The Community Revitalization Division, in collaboration with the State of California, Fresno Police, and local authorities have identified several illegal dumpers, resulting in successful prosecutions. This has resulted in curtailing illegal dumping – especially where it predominantly occurs. The Division’s efforts will continue to help the prosecution of persons responsible for illegal dumping throughout the City.
Reporting Illegal Dumping
Reports by citizens of illegal dumping are welcomed and promptly followed up on. If you happen to see what looks like illegal dumping within the City limits, please write down and report any pertinent observations, such as:
- License plate of the vehicle used
- Make/model of the vehicle used
- Time and place
- Physical descriptions of perpetrators
- Type of materials being dumped
What You Can Do
Vacant lots are, unfortunately, places where people will illegally dump garbage, carpets, tires, and other debris. The property owner is responsible for keeping their lot clean. However, there are things that can be done to help prevent dumping from occurring in the first place. You can post signs that warn against illegal dumping. Another option is to fence the property. While fencing an entire property may not be practical, a strategically placed fence or barrier on an obvious access path will deter illegal dumpers. Once dumping has begun on a property, other dumpers will see that it is a place where they can also leave their rubbish. Therefore, keeping the lot clean and immediately picking up dumped piles will usually prevent additional dumping.
People often see vacant lots as car lots – places to park the cars that they’re trying to sell. Posting a “No Parking” sign is surprisingly effective. A lot, which may have as many as 15 cars on a given weekend, will be empty after the sign has been posted. For information on posting a sign see Sign Enforcement.
Construction without Permits
The Community Revitalization Division monitors any construction, alteration, demolition, or other activities within any building or structure in which permits are required in order to ensure public safety.
Defined in the City Ordinance to mean, “any condition which is or may prove to be unsafe or dangerous to children or which otherwise blights the neighborhood.”
Enforcement is done in the interest of public health, safety, and welfare. The Code lists those activities which the City Council has declared to be a Public Nuisance; including tall weeds and grass, fire hazards, inoperative vehicles, overgrown landscaping, blight, discarded used tires, and more.
City Codes authorize the Division to evaluate dilapidated, fire damaged, or other severely distressed residential or commercial structures. It is Code’s primary responsibility to legally pursue renovation or demolition if the property owner fails to remedy the situation. Examples of hazardous conditions include sagging roof structures or beams, walls leaning and/or deteriorating, and failing floor joists or foundations.
A Code violation makes a building “substandard” within the meaning of the Code when the violation is to such an extent that it endangers life, limb, health, property, safety, or the welfare of the public. Minimum standards for dwellings are required by the Uniform Housing Code and the CA State Health and Safety Code. These standards include such items as requiring adequate heating, plumbing, and electrical systems, or proper venting of fuel burning appliances, and more. Typical complaints include unlawful use, structural failures, damaged floors and ceilings, inadequate egress, sewer overflows, potable water cross connections, or stopped up waste lines. There are more than 53,000 rental units throughout the City and a majority are over 50 years old. Addressing them in a timely and systematic manner is essential in order to protect the life, health, and safety of our City’s residents.
- Waste tires are considered hazardous materials.
- Within the State of California, there are 33 million scrap tires generated each and every year!
- One passenger tire releases approximately 2 gallons of paralytic oil. It is possible for the heat from a pile of tires on fire to ignite the paralytic oil, creating a secondary flowing oil fire.
- Community Revitalization has removed tens of thousands of abandoned tires from City streets and alleys what would have contributed to urban blight and the threat of becoming breeding grounds for the West Nile virus.
- On average, each American generates one used tire per year. That is about 298 million tires every year.
- The City’s program, which began in 2003, removed over 18,000 waste tires in fiscal 2010-2011.
The Costs Of Illegal Tire Dumping
Since the first tire disposal laws were passed in 1985, waste tires have been recycled. In spite of that, there are still about 800 million used tires stockpiled and cities do not want to contribute to that growing stockpile. Tires are one of the most illegally dumped items because they are big, do not compact, and cannot be hidden in a trash can. If you buy new tires from a retailer, he will collect a disposal fee for your old tires. Some of that money comes back to cities in the form of grants that can be used for pick-up, disposal, and enforcement. The City of Fresno participates in this program which allows for City staff to pick up abandoned tires and then transports the tires to a recycler who charges per truck load.
Illegally stockpiled waste tires also pose a threat to the environment because they provide a habitat for disease spreading mosquitoes. This is a particular concern with the spread of the West Nile Virus into the state. Local health and mosquito abatement authorities are anxious to address this issue in cooperation with Code Enforcement.
Fresno’s Tire Enforcement Program
The City of Fresno, in conjunction with the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB) is enforcing the State’s Waste Tire Statutes and Regulations. The City has received two important State sponsored grants used for waste tire enforcement.
The Tire Clean-Up Grant provides funding to remove illegally dumped waste tires from alleys, roadways, and other public right-of-ways.
The Tire Enforcement Grant provides funding to enforce regulations regarding the hauling and storage of waste tires. This Program monitors the establishments that are responsible for the storage and disposal of waste and used tires to ensure that the facilities are in compliance with State and Local laws. Community Revitalization Inspectors are inspecting all businesses that sell, replace, haul, and/or dispose of tires. Inspectors will also confirm that registered tire haulers are operating as mandated by the State. This program has been shown to reduce the number of illegally dumped waste tires in jurisdictions where the program has been implemented.
A Waste Tire Business Must
- Contract with a hauler who has registered with the CIWMB
- Store waste tires in compliance with State and City regulations
- It is the intent of the City of Fresno to assist businesses to comply with State and City waste tire regulations
Proper Disposal Of Tires
For the convenience of its citizens, the City operates a waste tire disposal facility, which is open to the public by appointment. To make an appointment, contact Code Enforcement at 621-8400, prior to going to the facility. Payment must be made at the time of disposal and can be made by cash or check (made payable to the City of Fresno) .
The following are the fees for disposal of used tires:
|$ 1.00||Regular Car Tire without Rim|
|$ 3.00||Regular Car Tire with Rim|
|$ 7.00||Diesel Truck Tire without Rim|
|$ 21.00||Diesel Truck Tire with Rim|
|$ 55.00||Farm Tractor Tire without Rim (14 x 20, or 17.5 x 24.5 rim size)|
|$110.00||Farm Tractor Tire with Rim (same size as above)|
|$ 75.00||Farm Tractor Tire without Rim (17.5 x 25, or 23.5 x 25 rim size)|
|$150.00||Farm Tractor Tire with Rim (same size as above)|
Tire Amnesty Day Events
Several times each year and in various places around the City, Community Revitalization sponsors a “Waste Tire Amnesty Day” event. This event is made possible through a grant from the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB). The Community Revitalization Division has held an average of four events per year since beginning in 2005. More than 15,000 tires have been collected and over 4,000 residents have taken part in the events, bringing in an average of six tires each. The events are intended to prevent illegal tire dumping, divert waste tires from landfills, and help educate the public about waste tire recycling and proper tire maintenance.
Raising Public Awareness and mitigating the adverse environmental impacts created by unlawful dumping or storage of waste tires, are the ultimate purposes of such events. Removing waste tires from local neighborhoods promotes public health and safety while contributing to the beautification of our City.
A number of fires have occurred at various recycling and solid waste facilities within the City limits in the past. Facilities operating without proper safeguards can have a far-reaching detrimental effect on the health of our community. Cleaning up violations can require the services of Federal, State, and Local agencies – and, at a financial burden that can be a drain on City resources.
In response to these events, Community Revitalization has specifically addressed solid waste and recycling business operators within the City with the goal of improving public health and safety while identifying environmental crimes, which pose a threat to citizens. Community Revitalization Inspectors work closely with numerous agencies, including Federal and State Environmental Protection agencies, the Department of Toxic Substance Control, the local Certified Unified Program Authority, and U. S. Attorney’s Office. To enforce the City’s Solid Waste and Recycling Ordinance, Inspectors conduct annual inspections of all such facilities to determine whether they are operating within the constraints of their permits.
Inspectors have a number of powerful enforcement tools, granted through the Ordinance with which to achieve their mandated goals. These tools range from administrative civil penalties of up to $2,500 a day to the various enforcement and abatement options available under the Public Nuisance Abatement Ordinance. Other remedies may include civil lawsuits and criminal citations. The Ordinance further provides that solid waste and recycling facilities are subject to an annual permit of $1,000.
City Ordinances pertaining to sign enforcement are designed to better the appearance of signs located throughout the entire City; as well as make sure signs are placed in a manner consistent with the safety of our citizens.
If you have a sign that has been removed, contact Community Revitalization to determine if the City has removed your sign. If it was removed by the City, staff can assist you in determining where to go to pick up any signs in storage and what, if any, fees have been assessed.
In an effort to be responsive to the citizens and to our responsibility under law, the City enforces campaign sign regulations during election season and on a continuing basis throughout the year. For added information Download Political Sign Brochure.
Posting Against Illegal Dumping On Privately Owned Lots
Vacant lots are, unfortunately, places where people will illegally dump garbage, carpets, tires, and other debris. The property owner is responsible for keeping their lot clean. However, there are things that can be done to help prevent dumping from occurring on a private lot in the first place:
- Post signs that warn against illegal dumping
- Fence the property
While fencing an entire property may not be practical, a strategically placed fence or barrier on an obvious access path will deter illegal dumpers.
- Keep the lot clean and immediately pick up dumped piles
Once dumping has begun on a property, other dumpers will see that it is a place where they can also leave their rubbish. Therefore, keeping the lot clean and immediately picking up dumped piles will usually prevent additional dumping.
- People often see vacant lots as car lots
Places to park the cars that they’re trying to sell. Posting a “No Parking” sign is surprisingly effective. A lot, which may have as many as 15 cars on a given weekend will be empty after the sign has been posted.
This information is provided to you to assist in the posting of your property, thus permitting enforcement of various laws and ordinances, which relate to each situation. These rules must be followed explicitly, or enforcement may not be possible.
- Signs must be a minimum of 17 x 22 inches with letters no smaller than one inch.
- Signs are not provided by the City. Individuals must have signs made by the method of their choosing.
- Multiple notices may be placed on the same sign.
- Signs must be posted at all entrances to the property. If this is not done, enforcement is not possible.
- It is recommended that signs be covered with plastic sheeting to protect against vandalism. It is cheaper to replace the cover than the sign.
- As single sign may contain as many prohibitions as desired as long as the minimum dimensions are complied with.
Compliance vs. Enforcement
Once a property owner has complied with the requirements regarding posting of their property, police officers may be able to take the specified enforcement actions. This does not mean that officers will automatically apprehend the drinkers, loiterers, or gamblers on posted property. An officer will be able to check out problems on the premises and take appropriate action as time allows. Should the property owner identify a specific problem at a given time and date, they are encouraged to call the police and report the violation(s) so that an officer may be dispatched to investigate.
It is critically important that the public recognize that these “guidelines” are just that. Where references have been made to legal requirements, it is the property owner’s responsibility to review and to follow the law. Keep in mind that the law changes and it is incumbent to keep abreast of changes which may occur, or the property owner could be held financially responsible.
Lead Paint Abatement/Reduction
The City’s goal is to make all of our homes in Fresno as safe as possible. The quality of our housing reflects the quality of our neighborhoods. The role of the Community Revitalization Division is to work with residents to help remediate lead hazards in privately owned housing.
The purpose of the program is to prevent childhood lead poisoning by creating lead-safe housing. This program provides comprehensive lead services including testing of qualifying homes, control of any lead hazards found, and parent education.
How it Works
Before purchasing a property, the purchaser may request a code lien payoff summary. The City will issue a summary of liens due at closing. These are divided into two categories—abatement liens and fines or citations. Abatement liens are the actual cost of abatement such as trash or weed removal. Fines or citations are the fees associated with the code enforcement action and the penalties assessed to the property owner for noncompliance.
The purchaser will request an agreement from the City with complete scope of work and anticipated investment. At a minimum the work must remediate all code violations. The purchaser may request up to 90 days to complete the work necessary.
The City Manager may enter into an agreement to waive up to $100,000 in fines or citations. The purchaser must pay all abatement liens at closing. At the end of the 90 days, the City will determine if the investment has been made and the code violations removed. At that time, the agreement will be completed and the code case closed.
City Waives Fees and Citations
Investors seeking to identify property for rehabilitation can sometimes run into roadblocks such as unpaid code enforcement liens.
Beginning in early 2014, the City of Fresno began offering a Code Lien waiver program to encourage reinvestment in established neighborhoods.
An investor seeking to purchase a home or residential unit with code enforcement liens can participate.