The Code Enforcement Program enforces the building and zoning ordinances for the unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County. The code enforcement process is typically initiated by responding to citizen complaints and by staff proactively investigating violations. Our goal is to resolve conflict(s) through voluntary compliance. In the absence of voluntary compliance, the offices have a range of other options to encourage compliance including citations, administrative actions, and abatement.
Submit a Code Enforcement Complaint
Code Enforcement Complaint Form (online submittal)
or Call: (925) 655-2710
Appeal a Building Code Violation
Work Exempt from a Permit
County Codes Enforced
Title 7 Building
Title 8 Zoning
Alcoholic Beverage Sales Commercial Activities Ordinance
Substandard Buildings/Uniform Housing Code
Residential Property Nuisances
Vacant Structure Regulations
Vacant Property/Lots Regulations
- What is the procedure for follow-up on possible code violations?
County staff respond to code enforcement complaints according to the impact of the violation on the community. Situations that appear to pose a serious risk to health and safety as well as disabled access complaints are given high priority. Others are pursued in the order in which they are received. For most code complaints a Courtesy Letter is sent out informing the property owner that they may have a code violation and to contact the code enforcement officer. For serious health and safety, disabled access and work being done without a permit, a code enforcement officer is sent out to ascertain if a violation exists and to request remediation. This is initiated with a Notice to Comply letter.
- How do I notify the County about a possible code violation?
A complaint about a possible code violation is made by letter, e-mail, fax or in person. Please be prepared with specific information such as the address of the property, details of the situation and the length of time you have observed the situation. Contact us at 925-655-2710 or Toll Free at 877-646-8314. You may submit a complaint form online. You may also submit a complaint form by printing and submitting by fax, mail or drop off to the office.
- What should I do if I receive a “Courtesy Letter” or a “Notice to Comply”?
You should contact the code enforcement officer to discuss the possible violation. The county is looking for voluntary compliance and is willing to work with you to resolve the issue.
- How do I contact the Code Enforcement Division?
You may call us at 925-655-2710 or toll free at 877-646-8314. You can also submit a Code Enforcement complaint online.
- What penalties result from code violations?
In many cases the individual responsible for the code violation is given the opportunity to correct the situation and comply with current codes without a penalty. If the correction is not made, the individual may be subject to fines and other penalties.
- What is a Notice to Comply (NTC) fee?
Once a code enforcement officer makes a site visit and a Notice to Comply letter has been issued, the county ordinance provides that a code enforcement fee shall be charged equal to two times the amount or $300 minimum for building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical permit fees. Zoning violation clearance requires a minimum of a $300 fee. A fee of $150 per trip will be charged until compliance is met. The fees and expenses are additive to the building permit and/or zoning fee.
- My neighbor’s yard is over grown and unkempt. Can Code Enforcement do something about it?
Contra Costa County Ordinance 720-2.006 states “no one shall maintain weeds exceeding 18 inches in height.” It is not only an eyesore but can promote fire danger. The fire department takes the lead in fire hazard abatements (tall grass) and Code Enforcement the lead in public nuisances (weeds and overgrown brush).
- I’m thinking about buying a portable canopy structure to cover my car in my driveway. Are these allowed?
No. Portable canopies located in driveways, though widely popular, are not permitted in Contra Costa County. The two fundamental reasons are wind loads and zoning requirements. Moderate winds have blown these structures down and into roadways presenting unreasonable hazards. To meet the wind load resistance they must be securely affixed to the ground which makes them permanent structure by definition. Zoning requirements prohibit the first 20’ of the front yard from having permanent structures installed prohibiting the canopies.
- I need additional living space and can’t afford to construct an addition. Can I just convert my garage into living space?
Converting attached garages into living space is a common practice and can be achieved in many cases. Careful planning must be used to meet numerous requirements. The first obstacle is replacing the parking spaces some where on your property that the original garage provided. The Planning Division will review your plans to ensure the parking spaces are restored and in an appropriate location. The second typical obstacle is meeting the building code requirements. Living space must meet more stringent requirements than a garage. Examples are a moisture barrier for the concrete floor and walls, insulation in the walls and ceiling, heating, electrical upgrades, light and ventilation requirements to name just a few. Normally a homeowner hires an architect to assist in this process to provide cost effective solutions to these and other issues.
- Can my neighbor park his R.V. or boat in the driveway?
Yes. Contra Costa County Ordinance 84-68.1404 allows the storage of boats and recreational vehicles on private property; however 90% of the mass must be screened from public view. Screening may be accomplished by landscaping, fencing, or an intervening building. It is important to note that this rarely can be achieved when the vehicle or vessel is in the front driveway.
- My neighbor leaves their garbage cans in front of their house for several days after service pick up. Can anything be done about this?
Yes. Contra Costa County Ordinance 720-2.006 prohibits garbage cans being left in public view from a street, highway or private road for more than 36 hours.
- What are the construction working hours in a residential neighborhood?
In general, there are no restrictions for construction working hours within Contra Costa County. Occasionally, as a conditional of approval, the Planning Division may restrict days and times of construction to a permit approval. The Planning Division 925-655-2705 retains the information about specific sites.
- If I see someone dumping garbage on private or public property, what should I do?
Illegal dumping is a serious problem in the County. Dumping on public land or streets should be reported to the Contra Costa County Sheriffs Department immediately. Do not approach someone dumping illegally, record the license plate number and vehicle information if it can be done safely and immediately report it to the police. Dumping on private land should be reported to Code Enforcement at 925-655-2710 or Toll Free at 877-646-8314.
- Where do I go to complain about graffiti on public or private property?
Graffiti is a serious problem that creates visual blight and diminishes property values. Graffiti is a crime and should be reported to the Contra Costa County Sheriffs Department. Occasionally, the markings are gang related and promote violence in the area. The quick removal of the graffiti is one of the most effective deterrents of additional “tagging”. Additionally you may contact the following departments; for publicly owned property such as street signs, sidewalks, and freeway underpasses marked with graffiti should be reported to the Public Works department at 925-313-7000. Privately owned property such as the sides of buildings, and fences should be reported to Code Enforcement 925-655-2710 or Toll Free at 877-646-8314.
- Where do I report inoperable or abandoned vehicles on public streets and/or private property?
Abandoned vehicles on public streets, highways and private roads should be reported to the Sheriffs Department. Abandoned vehicles on private property should be reported to Code Enforcement 925-655-2710 or Toll Free at 877-646-8314. In order for the vehicle to be removed from private property it must be determined inoperable. This means it must move under its own power and generally complete.
- Do I need a permit to cut down a tree?
Registered heritage trees, trees that provide land stability, are of a protected species or size, or provide visual screening/and or privacy are subject to tree removal permits. Each tree removal permit is subject to individual consideration and approved or denied on a case by case basis by the Planning Division. Some factors used to determine tree removal approval include hazardous situations, number of trees on a property, damage to existing structures, and reasonable development. Prior to removing any tree on your property, you are advised to contact the Planning Division at 925-655-2700 to verify your tree does not require a removal permit.
- Do I need a permit to build a storage shed?
Storage sheds, tool sheds and play houses that have a foot print of less than 120 square feet do not require a building permit however do have other restrictions. . In the event you bring a utility such as electricity or water to the structure, or enclose mechanical equipment such as a well or pool pump, permits are required. Electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits are required for a structure that may not require a building permit. Sheds and playhouses are not permitted to be located in the property setbacks. This is a required open space that separates properties around the perimeter of the property. Setback distances vary based on property zoning. The Application and Permit Center 925-655-2700 will help you determine the set back requirements of your property.
- The building next door abandoned and people come and go at all hours of the day. To whom do I report this?
Code Enforcement processes complaints regarding unsecured and abandoned buildings. Contra Costa County Ordinance 720-4 provides the authority and direction to order the proper securing and boarding of dwellings and buildings during temporary periods of vacancy pursuant to a permit, and that dwellings and buildings do not remain vacant and unoccupied for appreciable periods of time. A vacant or abandoned building subject to code enforcement action is defined as a business or residential occupancy that has ceased and whose doors, windows or other openings are broken or missing, so as to allow uncontrolled access to the interior or exposure to the elements. Contact us at 925-655-2710 or Toll Free at 877-646-8314.
- My neighbor has chickens, horses and/or goats. Can they be in this neighborhood?
Keeping livestock is only permitted in specifically zoned land. Residential property typically only allows raising or keeping “ordinary household pets.” However because the county was once an agriculturally based community, many pieces of land within residential communities have retained legal non-conformance land use that permits the keeping of live stock. The planning department determines the permitted land use for each property within County jurisdiction. Check with the Application and Permit Center 925-655-2700 prior to keeping exotic or farm animals. Report exotic or farm animals in residential areas to Code Enforcement 925-655-7210.
- My neighbor has a pool and the fence on his property has fallen down. Is he required to put it back up?
Yes. The Building Inspection Division considers damaged or missing fencing used as pools barriers a serious and potentially life threatening situation. Pool fence barriers are proven to save lives and are required by law. They must be maintained in compliance at all times including periods of construction. If you encounter any unfenced pool contact Code Enforcement immediately.
- My tenant is responsible for a violation on the property. I’m just the landlord and can’t control how my tenant lives. Can I be held liable?
Contra Costa County abatement procedures require the property owner be held responsible for any violations that exist on their property. All correspondence is directed to the property owner as well as known tenants. All fines or penalties are levied against the property and are recorded on the tax role. Tenant generated violations are difficult because the property owner often does not have immediate access to correct the problem. It is therefore strongly advised that a landlord closely and regularly monitor their properties for changes and violations.
- My building is substandard and my landlord will not make the corrections. Can you help me?
Yes. Everyone is entitled to live in a safe and healthy building. It is strongly recommended that the landlord be notified immediately and given the opportunity to repair the problem prior to contacting Code Enforcement. In the event the landlord does not take action, reporting substandard building conditions to Code Enforcement will get the ball rolling to get these conditions corrected. Fear of repercussions is commonly heard for not reporting substandard conditions in rentals. Complainants anonymity are protected by law. Names and personal information will not be released. Contact us at 925-655-2710 or Toll Free at 877-646-8314.
Ten Most Common Issues Resolved by Code Enforcement
1) Building, remodeling, repairs and demolition without permits.
2) Vacant, abandoned and unsecured buildings.
3) Garbage, junk piles, construction debris dismantled vehicles on private property.
4) Accessory buildings such as sheds, garages or carports built too close to property lines.
5) Buildings that have become unsafe for people to be in due to structural problems, electrical hazards or other life safety issue regarding building components.
6) Keeping livestock such as horses, goats or chickens on land not intended for this use.
7) Storing boats or recreational vehicles within public view on residential property.
8) Private pools that are not properly secured from children gaining access to them.
9) Residential property nuisances such as refrigerators, appliances, excavations, discarded furniture, shopping carts, weeds or cuttings left for any unreasonable amount of time.
10) Substandard structures used for living purposes such as outbuildings, garages, or recreational vehicles.
|Supervisorial District||Communities and Cities within District|
|District 1||San Pablo Heights, Richmond Heights, Rollingwood, El Sobrante, North Richmond, Kensington, Tara Hills, and Montalvin Manor|
|District 2||Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Canyon, Canyon, Alamo, Danville, San Ramon, Norris Canyon & Walnut Creek|
|District 3||Blackhawk, Diablo, Camino Tassajara Valley, Livermore Valley, Morgan Territory, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Bethel Island, Bradford Island & Oakley|
|District 4||Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek|
|District 5||Bay Point, Antioch, Pittsburg, Clyde, Pacheco, Martinez, Vine Hill, Shelby, Mount View, Alhambra Valley, Port Costa, Crockett, Pinole & Rodeo|