Report an Abandoned Vehicle in San Mateo

Our Abandoned Vehicle Program exists to keep City streets free of abandoned vehicles, which cause blight and other quality of life issues while also reducing the number of available parking spaces. Our program is not a parking management solution for vehicles that are not truly abandoned.

Legal Basis

The San Mateo Municipal Code 11.40.120 (b)(1)  and Vehicle Code 22651(k) provide for the removal of a vehicle from a city street or highway if parked or left standing upon the street or highway for more than seventy-two (72) hours, without significant movement. To be considered moved, the vehicle must be driven at least one city block, (1/10 of a mile) every 72 hours, however, it may return to the same location. The mere pushing or rolling of a vehicle is not sufficient.

Report an Abandoned Vehicle

Abandoned Vehicle Reporting Process

  1. Report by Online Form: The initial investigation begins when the vehicle’s information reaches our traffic department through our online submission form. This form is only to be used for vehicle’s located in the city limits of San Mateo.
  2. Report by Phone: If you do not have access to a computer, you may call our Abandoned Vehicle Hotline (650) 522-7766. NOTE: Depending on the volume of calls, your phone submission may take longer to process.

    When calling, please have the following information available:

    • Your first name, last name, a call back phone number and your home address
    • The location of the vehicle you are reporting
    • The color, make, model and license plate of the vehicle you are reporting
  3. After receiving the initial report, our Parking Enforcement Officers must first inspect the vehicle to confirm that it does appear to be abandoned (indicators such as dust on the vehicle, spider webs around the wheels, expired registration, flat tires, missing major engine components, etc.).
  4. At this time, a warning notice will be left on the windshield of the vehicle. This notice warns the vehicle owner it has been marked as abandoned and must be moved.
  5. If at least 72 hours have elapsed from the time of inspection, and the vehicle has not moved, enforcement action may be taken such as issuing a citation or impounding the vehicle.

Please note that a Traffic Officer cannot simply tow a vehicle because you report it as abandoned. The removal process DOES NOT begin immediately after you leave a message on the abandoned vehicle hotline. We receive several hundred abandoned vehicle complaints each month, so our response will occur within 4 business days following your submission.

Reporting Abandoned Vehicles in San Mateo by Phone

Site of Abandoned Vehicle Division Contact Phone Number
Private Property
Code Enforcement Division
Public Property
Abandoned Vehicle Hotline