Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I determine where my property lines are?
Your property lines can be determined by a licensed surveyor completing a survey of your property. The City has plans that show your lot dimensions; however, you cannot determine the exact location of your lot lines without a survey of the property. The City does not recommend any specific surveyor or survey company. Please check your phone book for a list of surveyors.
2. Where can I get a copy of "as-built" plans of my house/site/commercial building?
You may contact the Building and Safety Department to find out if we have a set of plans for your house/site/commercial building on microfilm.
3. Do I need a permit for flatwork/to pave my driveway?
No permits are required for flatwork or paving for an existing driveway. However, if you propose to relocate the driveway, you must contact the Departments of Planning and Public Works.
4. Do I need a permit to reface my sign?
Yes. Planning Department approval and a building permit is required.
5. What is the zoning on my property?
Please contact the Planning Division at 714-536-5271 to obtain zoning information.
6. What can I build on my property?
Once you obtain the zoning and General Plan designation for your property from the Planning Department, you can view our Zoning Code and review all permitted uses within your zoning district.
7. I’m building a room addition. What are my setbacks?
Setback information can be obtained from out Zoning Code. You must know the zoning designation of your property in order to determine the setback information. Zoning information is available by contacting the Planning Division at 714-536-5271.
8. Can I park my RV in the front yard?
RV’s or oversized vehicles such as campers, trailers, and boats on trailers may be parked on the paved driveway area or on a paved area between the driveway and the nearest side property line if they do not project over any property line and the area is kept free of trash, debris, and parts.
An oversized vehicle is any vehicle that exceeds 25 feet in length, 7 in width, 7 in height, or a weight of 10,000 pounds, motorized or non-motorized.
**Commercial oversized vehicles or special purpose machines are prohibited in any yard area.
10. What new housing developments are going on in HB?
Contact the Planning Division at 714-536-5271 or the Building Division at 714-536-5241 to obtain information of new development within the City of Huntington Beach
11. I would like to obtain a temporary banner permit for my new business what is the process?
You will need to fill out a temporary banner permit application and submit the application with the filing fee of $78 at the Planning Counter. You are permitted to have a banner 90 days per calendar year. Your business frontage to the street determines the size of the sign: You are allowed one square foot of sign area per linear foot of building frontage. For example, if your building faces Beach Boulevard and the linear frontage is 45 feet then you would be allowed a 45 square foot temporary banner.
12. What are the requirements to build a block wall or fence?
You may obtain the fence requirements in the Zoning Code in Chapter 230.88 or you may contact the Planning Division at 714-536-5271.
13. What is Planning and what do planners do?
Planners review entitlement submittals and ensure that proposals meet City codes. Planners are also responsible for processing environmental documents, ensuring the compatibility of proposed projects with existing development, preparing long range policy documents and updating the City's General Plan and Zoning Code.
14. What is a Variance?
A variance is a permit issued to a landowner by an administrative agency (zoning administrator, planning commission, or the city council acting as an administrative agency) to deviate from development standards (e.g. parking, setbacks) set forth in the zoning regulations. In order to be approved for a variance the proposal must meet several State-mandated findings.
15. How can I set up a business in my home?
Please contact the Business License Division at 714-536-5200 to determine home occupation requirements and to apply for a home occupation permit. You may obtain additional information from Chapter 230.12 of the zoning code.
16. Do I need a permit to build a wall? Or can I add some lattice above my existing block wall?
Building permits are required for any walls which are taller than 42 inches. Building permit applications are available on-line from the Building Division. Generally, the maximum height permitted in the City of Huntington Beach is 6 feet; however, the Zoning Code does permit walls at 8 feet provided the property abuts an arterial street. Lattice work or any type of addition to an existing block wall will not be permitted unless the addition matches the existing wall. Please contact the Planning Division at 714-536-5271 to obtain specific information on block walls and fences.
17. What is the parking requirement for my business addition?
The parking requirements differ depending on the type of the use. Specific parking requirements are available in the Huntington Beach Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance.
******CODE ENFORCEMENT QUESTIONS******
1. My neighbor’s tree branches overhang onto my property and are dropping leaves into my pool/patio/garden, etc. – can the City make them trim the branches or remove the tree? –
This is a commonly asked question because the problem occurs in nearly every residential neighborhood where aging landscape conditions exist. Code Enforcement does not have the authority to require a property owner to trim or remove any of their vegetation unless it overhangs into a public right-of-way - impeding either pedestrian or vehicular traffic, or unless the vegetation is dead and presents a potential fire hazard.
Instead, this particular question is a good example of a civil matter between property owners. Code Enforcement does recommend callers attempt to work this out amicably with their neighbor; however, if both parties are unable to resolve the problem satisfactorily then they have the option of working through the court system, with or without an attorney. Code Enforcement also suggests that any offending branches/vegetation may be trimmed back to the caller’s property line, as long as the trimming does not impact the future life of the plant.
2. The house next door is a rental and the tenants are messy. There are several dead cars in the driveway, the house paint is peeling, and they constantly park on the lawn – can you make the owner do something?
Yes we can! Code Enforcement works with both property owners and their tenants when enforcing responsible property maintenance standards. The property owner is usually contacted by mail regarding sub-standard conditions that occur at the property and tenants are contacted on site about violations that require their attention. The property owner is ultimately held jointly responsible for any continuing problems that result from the tenant’s lack of compliance.
Of the specific problems at the property, the repair of any damaged or deteriorated house paint would be the responsibility of the property owner. Any structural or safety issue that would require a substantial financial investment to correct is usually the property owner’s responsibility, such as a leaking roof, dilapidated fencing, a cracked and broken driveway, etc. Tenants have legal custody and control of the property so they are required to correct the violations that are of their making. They would be held accountable for either repairing the inoperable vehicles or removing them from public view and will be the ones cited if any parking upon unpaved surfaces reoccurs. They would also be held accountable for providing a continuing program of landscape maintenance to ensure attractive and thriving vegetation and the removal of any trash, discards, or litter accumulations about the property, keeping trash containers screened from public view, etc.
3. What will Code Enforcement do if I refuse to comply with the City's Municipal Code?
Code Enforcement attempts to solicit voluntary compliance with the property maintenance, health & safety, and other quality of life violations that come to their attention. Failure to gain compliance within a reasonable period of time may result in one or more of the following enforcement options at our disposal:
- A Civil Citation may be issued. First Citation is $250 per Code violation, 2nd Cite is $500 each, and if the violation continues, a Citation may be issued for $1,000 per violation, per day as it continues.
A Notice to Appear Citation may be issued requiring the violator to respond to Westminster Court for a Judicial Hearing. If the violator is found guilty the Court will assess the penalty amount and possibly restitution to the City.
A Criminal Complaint may be filed in court through the City Attorney's office. This results in a trial and if found guilty the violator will not only pay penalties, but also additional administrative costs.
If the violations present an immediate threat to health and safety, Code Enforcement may provide abatement measures through a Notice and Order procedure. This action will result in all costs incurred being assessed against the property in the form of a lien.
In some instances, with continuing violations, it is possible for all discretionary permits, licenses, the certificate of occupancy, etc., to be revoked by the City.
4. My neighbor and his buddies do car repair work every weekend and the cars are always different ones. I think he's running a business at his house - can you stop him?
Yes. Even though the Municipal Code provides for some Home Occupation activities, doing motor vehicle repair work for commercial purposes is not permitted. Code Enforcement works weekend shifts to better enable us to observe this type of violation and make contact while it is occurring. One of the easiest ways to eliminate this problem is to require all vehicle repair work done at the residence be only on those vehicles registered to the property. The regulations also prohibit employees, i.e., the “buddies," to report to the property for work and even further prohibits the use of the garage as part of the home occupation activity. FYI – There are also regulations concerning homeowner/tenant repair work on personal vehicles. Only temporary emergency repairs, like changing a battery or tire, may be conducted outside the confines of the garage. Inoperable vehicles and/or vehicle parts are not permitted on private property, in public view.
5. I want to report a property maintenance problem in my neighborhood but I don't want anyone to know I called. Do I have to give you my name?
Please be assured that your identity is protected by the Government Code and is never released to anyone outside of staff. Our files are not readily available to the general public. Code Enforcement must have your name and phone number to provide the best follow-up action possible for every complaint. Many times we need to contact you to confirm either continuing problems or that the violation has been eliminated to your satisfaction. It is also important to be able to contact you in the event we find that the “problem” is not a violation enforceable by our department or, maybe, not even a violation at all. If you are anonymous and we’re unable to let you know these circumstances, you will be left with the negative impression that we have ignored your complaint. For the record, when people leave anonymous complaints that do not constitute a hazardous condition, those complaints become the very lowest priority in our caseload.
The Huntington Beach Fire Department conducts free home fire safety inspections for seniors. You can also get a free smoke detector with a 10 year battery and carbon monoxide detector installed. This free service is provided by Project SHIP senior home inspection program volunteers. To schedule an appointment call 714-374-1615.