Code Enforcement

Our mission is to enhance the City of San Mateo's quality of life by ensuring and protecting the health, safety, and welfare of all residents and visitors.

Code Enforcement Officers are non-sworn officers / investigators, who posses specialized training in, and whose primary duties are the prevention, detection, investigation, and enforcement of laws regulating public nuisance, public health, safety, and welfare, public works, business activities, building standards, land-use, or municipal affairs.
Code Enforcement
  1. Landlord & Tenant Resources
  2. Mediation Services
  3. Emergency Housing
These resources are available to both landlords and tenants and focus on both parties understanding their rights and responsibilities.
Fair Housing Information
  • Project Sentinel
  • In San Mateo it is illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, the number and presence of children, age, or physical disability. Examples of discrimination are: falsely denying that housing is available; discriminatory advertising; refusal to rent; discrimination in the terms of the lease. Any person who believes they are being discriminated against should file a complaint with Project Sentinel.

Our Philosophy

The City’s policy is to achieve voluntary compliance with reported and discovered code violations. However, not all violations have the same degree of severity. As such, the City has established priority ranking and procedures. The intent is to allow the level of enforcement that best fits the type and circumstances of the code violation(s) within clear and objective criteria, consistent with the established priorities, and maximize available resources.


It is the City's policy to investigate and attempt to resolve all reported and discovered code violations. There may be times when code violations cannot be given the same level of attention, or when the City may be unable to carry out proactive code enforcement activities. In such circumstances the most serious violations will be addressed before the less serious violations, regardless of the order in which the complaints are received.

Examples of the Departments established priorities:
  1. Violations that present an imminent threat to health and safety or the environment;
  2. Building code violations consisting of non-permitted construction or failure to obtain permits for construction
  3. Land Use and Zoning violations
Complaints alleging code violations that do not fall within the priority rankings above will be processed in the order in which the complaints are received, and as resources allow.


Our policy is to maintain the confidentiality of Code Enforcement complaint files and computer records, including the identity of the complainant, to the extent legally possible.

Assisting Enforcement by Other Regulatory or Licensing Agencies

In some cases, City code violations also may constitute violations of federal and/or state statutes or administrative rule. For example, performing building construction without necessary permits may constitute violations of state laws and administrative rules governing the conduct of licensed contractors. Code Enforcement staff shall notify other agencies of known violations. 

Resolution of Code Complaints

It is the City’s policy to attempt to reach final, satisfactory resolutions of all code violation complaints. However, the City recognizes that not all complaints may be resolved successfully, due to factors outside the City’s control. Where the City determines that a code violation may not be successfully resolved within the established reasonable timelines, alternative methods of enforcement may be explored.

Non-Applicability to Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R's) or Civil Disputes

Many subdivisions and planned communities are subject to private, recorded covenants, conditions, and restrictions (hereafter “CC & R’s”).

Neighbor disputes such as property line fences or trees are civil matters and a good referral source for more information on neighbor disputes is a book entitled “Neighbor Law” printed by Nolo Press.

The City does not enforce private CC & R’s; or civil disputes.