Frequently Asked Questions
Who is responsible for monitoring violations of the County Zoning Regulations and Nuisance Ordinances?
The Code Enforcement Unit investigates suspected violations. After each investigation in which a code enforcement officer determines that a violation exists, the officer issues a Notice of Code Violation or a Notice and Order to Abate to the person responsible.
What happens after they issue a notice?
What happens depends upon the type of violation.
If an officer finds that someone is violating a zoning regulation, for example, operating a prohibited business at home, the officer may refer the matter to the County Counsels Office, which could file suit against the violator.
If the officer finds that the matter involves a public nuisance, such as an abandoned car or a large amount of refuse collecting in a yard, he will issue an abatement order. The person receiving that order has 10 days in which to correct the situation. If it is not corrected, the County may step in, "for example, by having the car towed or the refuse removed." The property owner is then billed for actual costs plus a 15% administrative fee.
Can I appeal a notice or an abatement order?
You cannot appeal a notice that you are violating zoning regulations. You can appeal an abatement order by filing a written request for a hearing with the County Officer who ordered the abatement.
Who considers the appeals?
The Abandoned Vehicle Hearing Officer hears appeals involving abandoned vehicles.
The Board of Supervisors hears appeals involving nuisances.
Can I report a violation to the Code Enforcement Unit?
Anyone can report what he or she believes to be a code violation. You can report a violation by coming to the DRC and completing a complaint form, by writing a letter to the Code Enforcement Section, or by phoning Code Enforcement (650/363-4825) and requesting that a Code Enforcement Officer return your call. The line has an answering machine 24 hours a day.
Can I report a violation anonymously?
It's best to provide your contact information when submitting a complaint. This ensures that County staff has the ability to contact you with any questions or updates. Someone may request the complainant's information but must submit, in writing, a valid reason for wanting it. This request must then be approved by San Mateo County Counsel prior to release. When necessary, the County will accept an anonymous complaint.
What happens after I make my report?
If the Code Enforcement Unit verifies that there is a violation, the staff will take enforcement action. If they believe the problem to be a disagreement between neighbors, they may refer you to the Community Services Mediation Program (650/363-4841).
Whom do I call if I have questions?
Call the Code Enforcement staff at (650)363-4825.