Code Enforcement

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Our Mission

Town staff is committed to enhancing neighborhood livability by ensuring the protection of the health, safety and quality of life for all of Portola Valley residents through the enforcement of the Town’s municipal code.

What is meant by Code Enforcement?

The Town is authorized to enforce codes pertaining only on private residential and business properties within Town limits. Common types of violations that are enforced include, but are not limited to:

Building Issues

  • Structures or grading without permit (fences, sheds, etc.)
  • Setback and Height Violations
  • Building Code Violations
  • Illegal Conversions

Planning and Zoning Issues

  • Setback and Height Violations
  • Fence/Walls (height and location)
  • Sign Regulations
  • Nonconforming exterior lighting
  • Construction or planting in the Town right of way
  • Encroachment into open space, designated horse or pedestrian trails

Nuisance Issues

  • Noise Regulations
  • Property Maintenance, public nuisances

Interpretation

The Town of Portola Valley is founded on rural values, upstanding ethics and strong community; in that spirit, many issues considered to be code enforcement concerns can easily be resolved by reaching out to a neighbor, maintaining composure and finding compromise. It is our experience that once two sides begin speaking to one another, they usually come up with the best solution. In fact, the vast majority of code enforcement issues are resolved by the two parties with minimal Town intervention. We hope that issues between neighbors can be handled through direct dialogue and a firm handshake.

When the Town is requested to become involved, our intention is to resolve the issue by voluntary compliance, and the process begins with a request. If compliance cannot be achieved, then a legal process is followed until the issue is resolved.

About

The Town is responsible for enforcing the Portola Valley Municipal Code, which includes the Zoning Ordinance and the California Building Codes pertaining to properties inside the Town of Portola Valley’s limits. The codes enforced cover public nuisances, zoning and land use violations, and building code violations.

Complaints related to alleged violations are received in various ways: community complaints, Town Council referrals, and staff observations. Complaints that pose imminent threat to public safety are immediately investigated by the appropriate department; all other complaints are prioritized by severity of violation. If you believe you have a problem to report, please review the types of violations handled through this office before reporting a complaint.

All complaints are kept confidential; however, if a complainant elects to report anonymously, the code enforcement investigation may be limited and/or discontinued because staff may not be able to contact the complainant for information needed to continue the investigation.

Not all violations have the same degree of severity; therefore, the Town has established priority ranking and procedures. The intent is to allow the level of enforcement befitting the circumstance. The below table shows when you will be notified by staff about your complaint:

 

Priority

Violation Type

Response Time Frame

1

Immediate Health and Safety Violation

Same Business Day

 

 

 

2

Unpermitted Construction in Progress

Next Business Day

 

 

 

3

Unpermitted Construction/Conversion, Public Nuisance i.e. Weeds, Debris

3 Business Days

 

 

 

4

Zoning Violations

7 Business Days

 

Please Note:  Code Enforcement is for non-emergency use only; submissions will only be reviewed during regular business hours. Reports made after hours, on weekends, or holidays, will be addressed the next working day.

If you have any situation that represents an emergency, requires an immediate response, or causes a potential danger to the public, dial 9-1-1 immediately!

Help is available for contentious problems by contacting the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, which offers mediation services for landlord/tenant and neighbor/neighbor disputes. PCRC can be reached at 650-345-PCRC (7272) or visit their website at https://www.pcrcweb.org/.

Town Contact

Requests for code enforcement can be made in a number of ways:

Regional Contacts

San Mateo County Sheriff (non-emergency): (650) 363-4911
Woodside Fire Protection District (non-emergency): (650) 851-1594
San Mateo County Health Department general number: (650) 573-2222
San Mateo County Animal Control: (650) 573-3726
Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA: (650) 340-8200
San Mateo County Mosquito and Vector Control District: (650) 344-8592
Pacific Gas and Electric: 1-(800)-743-5000
CALwater: (650) 561-9709. After hours: (650) 553-4631
West Bay Sanitary District: (650) 321-0384

FAQ’s

What is meant by response time?                                                                                                                       Response time means that a Town representative will make an assessment in a certain timeframe. For example, if a resident is building without a permit, the building inspector will visit the site and issue a stop work notice if necessary. If a public works issue is reported, the situation will be evaluated and scheduled for repair.

How many code violations are there each year?                                                                                                             In 2017 the Town received 78 requests to determine if a violation existed. 

Here is a table of the last full year’s code violations:

 code enforcement 2017 chart

What is an unpermitted conversion?
This is the conversion of a non-habitable space to a habitable space without a permit. For example: a garage or accessory structure turned into a living space.

Where can I see a copy of the Portola Valley Municipal Code?
The full text of the Municipal Code is available HERE.

If there is a code enforcement claim against me, can I know the name and address of who filed a violation?
No. Disclosure of complainant name and or contact information is prohibited from being released to the public by California State Law unless ordered by a court during active litigation.