Code Enforcement Complaints

Common Complaints
Advertising Signs
The city requires approvals and permits for most signage. Please call the zoning department at 707-431-3348 prior to beginning a sign project. There are different regulations for signs placed on private property and those that encroach onto public property. Review Chapter 20 of the Healdsburg Municipal Code for an overview of the guidelines.

Animal Issues
Working jointly with the animal control officer, we will investigate livestock or exotic animals being kept on residential properties that do not meet the proper zoning criteria. The animal control officer handles barking dogs, strays, dangerous animals, animal cruelty investigations and other general duties. Code Enforcement cannot assist you with wild animals such as raccoons, possums, deer and coyotes.

Building Code Violations
The illegal conversion of a garage or auxiliary building into living units is a common issue. Construction activities often require an inspection permit. Other examples include tenant improvements on a business property without proper permits and remodel projects. Please call the Building Department at 707-431-3348 to determine if your project requires a permit.

Conditional Use Permit Violations
Some business entities have special conditions attached to their business license. A “Conditional Use Permit” may regulate activities such as live music, hours of operations, noise and alcohol service. Failing to adhere to these agreements may be referred to our department for formal enforcement.

There are a series of regulations involving fences which can become complicated. Please call the Building Department at 707-431-3348 to ensure your project is compliant with the requirements. As an example, fences over 7 feet in height require a building permit.

Graffiti Abatement
The most important aspect of maintaining a healthy community is to remove blight and damage at the earliest time. Graffiti vandalism is a reoccurring problem. The City of Healdsburg enacted an ordinance that requires property owners to remove graffiti damage from their property. The sooner it is removed, the lower your chance of having additional damage to the property. Please take the following steps if you are the victim of graffiti:

File a police report by contacting HPD dispatch at 707-431-3377.
Remove or repaint the area that was damaged as quickly as possible.

If a property owner does not remove the graffiti, they will receive a courtesy notice advising them of the city ordinance requiring them to take action. Failure to remove the damage will result in a code enforcement action and a possible fine of $150 per day.

The city has adopted an ordinance (HMC 20.20.100) that regulates medical marijuana cultivation within the city limits. If you have a valid marijuana recommendation from a licensed doctor, please ensure that your activities are in compliance. We actively enforce these regulations and non-compliance will result in the loss of your crop and other penalties.
  • Only 3 outdoor marijuana plants per residential property lot. If there are 3 qualified patients living in the house, only 3 total plants may be cultivated. The 3 plants must be 5 feet away from property lines and less than 6 feet in height.
  • Only 6 indoor marijuana plants can be grown in a residence. The 6 plant maximum applies regardless of how many qualified patients may live on the property. The cultivation cannot take place in the garage or other outdoor structure. Please review HMC 20.20.100 for all of the requirements associated with indoor cultivation.
  • You cannot grow any marijuana (indoor or outdoor), if your property is located within 300’ of any hospital, church, school, park, playground, childcare center, recreation center or youth center.
Noise Ordinance
Not everything that may be annoying is a violation of the noise ordinance. You may review the full ordinance under HMC 9.32.010. Some of the more common applications include:
  • Construction activities are permitted Monday through Saturday 7:30 a.m. through 6 p.m.
  • No construction on Sundays or legal holidays (HMC 9.32).
  • Construction activities that do not generate noise are allowed outside of these time restrictions.
Exemptions (HMC 9.32.060)
  • Valid permit allowing for construction during prohibited hours
  • Construction occurring on property owned by the State of California (Freeway, School District)
  • Emergency repairs
  • Utility work by the city or its contractors
  • Residential gardening activities are permitted from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. This includes the use of power equipment, such as lawnmowers.
  • Other noise exemptions (See section HMC 9.32.060)
  • Activities related to the grape crush (HMC 9.32.060)
  • Noise related to railroad operations
  • Special events authorized by a city permit
Please remember that noise ordinance violations are based on activities that exceed certain decibel levels depending on the property location, zoning and the time of day. An investigation will not be initiated without certain criteria being established.

Public & Private Nuisances
The City of Healdsburg has made a legislative finding that violations of certain city codes constitute a public nuisance. This is a legal foundation that allows for governmental regulation. A warning notice sent by the code enforcement unit will almost always include an advisory that the prohibited activity constitutes a public nuisance. The authority for this finding can be found in HMC section 1.12.030 and California Penal Code section 370. Generally, a public nuisance is something that may be injurious to health, indecent, offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by an entire community or neighborhood, or by any considerable number of persons.

A private nuisance is a matter between 2 parties that does not rise to a criminal level or involve governmental investigation. Some examples include property line disputes over fences, leaves and yard waste blowing into an adjoining yard, street parking in front of your residence, landscaping, etc. If you are unable to settle this with your neighbor, your option is to seek legal advice from an attorney.

Zoning Complaints
Generally, the city has established specific allowances for certain activities based on the zoning laws in a certain area. Commercial Districts, Industrial Zones and Residential areas have a large variety of restrictions and requirements that are designed to mitigate problems inherent in an urban environment. These are referred to the zoning department first to determine if a violation exists, prior to taking formal code enforcement action.  As an example, if you have residential property located in a commercial district, zoning laws allow for adjacent businesses to operate on a 24 hour basis. The ongoing business activity is a legal use of the property. There may be no legal requirement for the business to curtail its legitimate activities.