Help Protect Our Community from Wildfires
Weed Abatement Ordinance Overview
To help reduce the threat of fires during wildfire season, the City of Santa Rosa has a Weed Abatement Ordinance that requires applicable property owners to cut weeds and grasses that are over four inches in height once fire season is declared, and maintain that level of compliance throughout the duration of the season. Please read all information on this page to understand the requirements of the Ordinance, who the Ordinance applies to, and the process for inspections.
The City of Santa Rosa Fire Department officially declares May 17, 2021, as the start of the 2021 wildfire season in Santa Rosa; Fire Department staff will begin property inspections to ensure compliance with the Weed Abatement Ordinance after May 17.
Property Owner Responsibility
The Weed Abatement Ordinance applies to property owners of any of the following:
- Properties located in the Wildland Urban-Interface (WUI) Area
- Developed properties over .5 acres with over .5 acres of unimproved land
- Undeveloped properties (vacant lots) including those in the fire rebuilding areas
These property owners must cut weeds and seasonal grasses that are over four inches in height on their property. Because weeds and seasonal grasses will likely grow back throughout the late spring and summer months, property owners will need to ensure their parcels remain in compliance until the fire season is declared over. Owners of properties that do not take action to comply may be cited and abated by the City of Santa Rosa and held responsible for the costs incurred (RES-2017-028).
Property owners are encouraged to proactively comply with the Ordinance in advance of Fire Season and maintain parcels throughout the year.
Fire Department Inspections
Fire Department staff begin conducting inspections of applicable parcels after fire season has been declared locally (Fire Season begins May 17th this year).
Every vacant lot in Santa Rosa will be inspected along with each parcel within the designated Wildland Urban Interface Area -- the Department automatically conducts around 13,000 inspections annually once the season is declared.
Inspections are performed to ensure properties are in compliance with the requirements of Chapter 9-08 of the City Code regarding abatement of Weeds. The Fire Department will enforce compliance throughout the fire season per City Ordinance No. 3681.
Weed Abatement on City-Maintained Properties
The schedule for abating weeds on City-maintained property prioritizes addressing areas of high-fire threat first. Therefore, the community may observe unsightly weeds and high grass in lower priority areas — outside of the wildland urban interface — for longer periods of time. The general prioritization order for weed abatement on City-maintained properties is as follows:
- Larger open spaces and areas in the WUI including Skyhawk and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Trail off Carissa Avenue
- Smaller parks and open spaces in Fountaingrove and Hidden Valley
- Other areas in or adjacent to the WUI area
- Other City parcels outside of WUI, focusing first on larger undeveloped areas such as those that exist within A Place to Play and Youth parks
Report a Weed Abatement Nuisance
To report a weed abatement nuisance, follow the below steps.
1. Download and complete the Weed Abatement Complaint Form (PDF)
- All complaints must be filed in writing.
- Including photos with the complaint form is helpful.
- The information provided will be kept confidential.
2. Choose one of the following methods to submit the form to the Santa Rose Fire Department:
- Fax: 707-543-3520
- Email: email@example.com
- Mail to: City of Santa Rosa Weed Abatement Program
2373 Circadian Way
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
Weed Abatement staff respond to each complaint; however, they may not follow up with you unless they have questions. Complaints received after the declaration of Fire Season will be reviewed to see if the parcel meets the criteria as noted above and followed up on if applicable. If the complaint does not meet the criteria, it will be forwarded to Code Enforcement for investigation. In addition, due to laws prohibiting illegal searches, inspectors will not look over fences, climb fences, enter a backyard or enter a residence to confirm weed complaints. All weed violations must be visible from the street and must be in the City of Santa Rosa’s jurisdiction.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where does Weed Abatement apply?
- All undeveloped parcels (vacant lots), including those in the fire rebuilding areas
- All developed parcels over .5 acres having over .5 acres of unimproved land
- All parcels located within the Wildland Urban Interface Fire Areas
What is Weed Abatement?
Weed abatement is the actual removal of combustible growth and material from property actual removal of weeds and/or rubbish as performed by the parcel owner or a contractor hired by the parcel owner. Parcels that are not in compliance and have received notices and have not taken action to comply with their notices will be sent to a contractor hired by the City of Santa Rosa Fire Department. The parcel owner will be held responsible for all costs incurred including the initial inspection fees (including the investigation, inspection, preparation, service, and/or publication or administrative notices and other related clerical costs performed by the Fire Department).
Does the Fire Department spray for weeds or perform the removal of weeds/rubbish?
No. The property owner is responsible for removal of weeds/rubbish. The Fire Department inspects the property for compliance.
What do I do if I receive a notice?
Each year, information regarding the weed abatement program is included in water bills and messaged to the public through various methods including social media and our website. Please inspect your property and take whatever actions are necessary to bring your property into compliance before it is inspected.
Inspect your property frequently throughout the year. You are required to maintain your property per the ordinance #3681 throughout until the end of the fire season.
- If the property is maintained properly and is in compliance when inspected by the City, owners will not be charged for the inspection.
- If a property is not in compliance when inspected by the City, the owner will then receive a reminder notice and a re-inspection will occur after a minimum of 2 weeks.
- If a property remains uncorrected during the second inspection, the property owner will be issued a violation notice and charged for all costs related to the inspection and re- inspection of that property.
If you are maintaining your property to be in compliance, we thank you and appreciate your fire prevention efforts.
What does it mean if I have received a "violation notice"?
Property owners are responsible to maintain their properties to be in compliance at all times and inspections are conducted throughout the fire season. If a property is not in compliance when inspected by the City, the owner will then receive a notice of violation and a re-inspection will occur after a minimum of 2 weeks.
The violation notice that has been received should list any violation that was found on the property as well as a timeline for when the property is scheduled to be inspected again.
Property owners are required to correct all violations on the property as soon as possible to avoid additional charges from the City.
Because the property was not in compliance with the requirements of the City's Ordinance when it was inspected for the second time, you are being charged for the Fire Department's costs related to all inspections of your property.
If the violation(s) listed is/are not corrected prior to the next inspection, the City is authorized to hire a contractor to abate the property at the property owner's expense, in addition to any other charges and all expenses related to the inspections of the property. Any unpaid charges will be added to the property owner's tax bill as a lien on the property.
Can I dispute a violation or an invoice?
- Yes. You must provide the following information in writing:
- Invoice number
- Parcel number
- Photo documentation that your issues have been resolved per the requirements of the Ordinance
- Any receipts and/or evidence that you have that pertain to the resolution of the issue
- A signed letter explaining why you are disputing the violation
- Send to:
Santa Rosa Fire Department
Weed Abatement: Dispute
2373 Circadian Way
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
What if I do nothing?
If the violation(s) listed is/and not corrected prior to the next inspection, the City is authorized to hire a contractor to abate the property at the property owner’s expense in addition to any other charges and all expenses related to the inspections of the property.
Will I be charged for that?
Yes. You will be responsible for all costs incurred for the contractor, inspections, and administration fees. These fees can be attached to your tax roll for you parcel.
What if I am the new owner, and the previous notices were not received by me?
We ask that you dispute that charges following the instructions above. The charges will follow the parcel, and may be added to the tax roll for that property. Any previous owner information is helpful.
What if the parcel is owned by a group/corporation, and I was not receiving my mail at my mailing address?
The mailing address is provided through the Sonoma County Assessor’s Office that the group/corporation designated. The group/corporation is still responsible for any and all costs incurred for the parcel. It is strongly recommended that any changes are updated at the County Recorder’s Office.