Building and Zoning Code Violations on Private Property
The City strives to maintain a safe and desirable living and working environment. In addition to working with residents, business owners, and neighborhood and professional associations to seek voluntary compliance with City laws and codes, the Community Development Department investigates and enforces certain types of alleged violations.
Code Compliance will investigate these types of building code issues:
- Substandard/Unsafe buildings
- Illegal dwelling units, including garage conversions
- Work without a permit (e.g. electrical, plumbing, structural)
- Illegal grading, excavating, or cut/fill
- Asbestos, lead paint, mold
Code Compliance will investigate these types of land use issues:
- Over-height or illegally placed fences, walls or hedges
- Inoperable or abandoned vehicles on private property
- Short-term Vacation Rentals
- Unpermitted uses, including illegal home occupations
- Elimination/Obstruction of required parking
- Storage of trash, debris, structures, boats, or vehicles in zoning setbacks or front yards
- Illegal and unpermitted signs
- Violations of Conditions of Development
To report these and other types of issues that are not building construction or zoning concerns, please download and use the app SB Connect.
- Abandoned vehicles (on the street right of way)
- Illegal dumping (sidewalk or street)
- Noise complaints
- Wastewater, water pollution, water conservation
- Hedges or plants encroaching into the public right of way (sidewalk or street)
- Homeless encampments
- Sidewalk vendors
- Short-Term Rentals: Visit the City Attorney page to report an unpermitted Short-Term Rental.
Phone Phase Out: After October 12, 2023, Requests for Investigation/Complaints will no longer be accepted by phone.
Forms Phase Out: Beginning November 17, 2023, on-line forms and hard copy forms will be replaced with SB Connect.
Please contact Code Compliance if accessibility circumstances necessitate assistance.
Report a Violation
Frequently Asked Questions
Complaints/Requests for investigation can be made online using one of the two forms submittal forms. A hard copy form is also available that can be printed and either mailed in or returned in person. Complaints/Requests for investigation are not accepted thru voicemail messages. However, if assistance is needed in filling out either the online submittal forms or the hardcopy form, you may contact us by phone.
NOTE: Beginning in late August 2023, complaints/requests for investigation will begin a transition away from phone messages and the seamless document forms currently used, to a mobile app (and comprehensive webpage) that will better connect the community to the services and specific departments they need.
Yes, anonymous complaints are accepted. Anonymous complaints will be assigned a lower priority than those with an identified reporting party. However, health and safety issues receive the highest priority designation whether or not submitted anonymously. Reporting party information is kept confidential during our investigation of the alleged violation, and also when the case is closed. In rare instances, the City may be required to release that information under court order. Direct email correspondence may become publicly available under a California Public Records Act request.
Your concerns are important to us. When requests for code compliance inspection are received, they are prioritized based on both date and nature of the situation, then assigned to code compliance officers as workload allows. Once assigned, the officer will conduct an investigation to determine if a violation exists. Health and safety issues receive the highest priority designation.
Code enforcement officers do not contact the reporting party once the case has been assigned, unless additional information is needed to investigate a potential violation.
If an inspection reveals code violations, the assigned code compliance officer will determine the appropriate remedy according to the Santa Barbara Municipal Code. This may include a Notice of Violation, Administrative Citation, or a referral to the City Attorney's Office for criminal or civil action. Code compliance officers have the discretion to grant time extensions and work collaboratively with the responsible parties to abate violations.
Notices of Violation are not appealable. Once issued, a citation may be appealed.
Short-term vacation rentals are unlawful in Santa Barbara, including the coastal zone, unless they are permitted by the City and they are located within zoning districts that allow for hotels or motels. The City will enforce against all illegal short term rentals in non-coastal areas. Enforcement of illegal short term vacation rentals in the coastal zone will occur in response to the City receiving nuisance complaints.
As of August 1, 2023, newly submitted requests for investigation/complaints are investigated by the City Attorney's Office. Requests for investigation/Complaints for short-term rentals received prior to August 1, 2023 will continue under the enforcement of the Community Development Department, Code Compliance section.
No. Code Compliance is complaint driven. However, if a violation posing an immediate safety hazard is observed, the process to remedy the violation will be initiated.