Persons recovering from addiction to drugs and/or alcohol are considered to be disabled under state and federal law.
Since the federal Fair Housing Act ("the Act") was amended by Congress in 1988 to add protections for persons with disabilities and families with children, there has been a great deal of litigation concerning the Act's effect on the ability of local governments to exercise control over group living arrangements, particularly for persons with disabilities. The Department of Justice has taken an active part in much of this litigation, often following referral of a matter by the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD"). Following is an overview of the Fair Housing Act's requirements in this area.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits a broad range of practices that discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. The Act does not pre-empt local zoning laws. However, the Act applies to municipalities and other local government entities and prohibits them from making zoning or land use decisions or implementing land use policies that exclude or otherwise discriminate against protected persons, including individuals with disabilities.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to:
Utilize land use policies or actions that treat groups of persons with disabilities less favorably than groups of non-disabled persons. An example would be an ordinance prohibiting housing for persons with disabilities or a specific type of disability, such as mental illness, from locating in a particular area, while allowing other groups of unrelated individuals to live together in that area.
Take action against, or deny a permit, for a home because of the disability of individuals who live or would live there. An example would be denying a building permit for a home because it was intended to provide housing for persons with mental retardation.
Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in land use and zoning policies and procedures where such accommodations may be necessary to afford persons or groups of persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to use and enjoy housing.
The Fair Housing Act requires jurisdictions to offer reasonable accommodation to meet the needs of disabled persons.
What constitutes a reasonable accommodation is a case-by-case determination.
Not all requested modifications of rules or policies are reasonable. If a requested modification imposes an undue financial or administrative burden on a local government, or if a modification creates a fundamental alteration in a local government's land use and zoning scheme, it is not a "reasonable" accommodation.
The Fair Housing Act does not protect persons who currently use illegal drugs, persons who have been convicted of the manufacture or sale of illegal drugs, or persons with or without disabilities who present a direct threat to the persons or property of others.
HUD and the Department of Justice encourage parties to group home disputes to explore all reasonable dispute resolution procedures, like mediation, as alternatives to litigation.
Adapted from the Joint Statement of the Department of Justice and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (August 18, 1999)
Alcoholism or Drug Abuse Recovery or Treatment facility - An adult alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facility that is licensed pursuant to Section 11834.01 of the California Health & Safety Code. Alcoholism or Drug Abuse Recovery or Treatment Facilities are a subset of Residential Care Facilities.
Conditional use permit (CUP) - A discretionary approval usually granted by the planning commission which allows a use or activity not allowed as a matter of right, based on specified findings.
Group home - A facility that is being used as a supportive living environment for persons who are considered handicapped under state or federal law.
Handicapped - As more specifically defined under the fair housing laws, a person who has a physical or mental impairment that limits one (1) or more major life activities, a person who is regarded as having that type of impairment, or a person who has a record of that type of impairment, not including current, illegal use of a controlled substance.
Integral facilities - Any combination of two (2) or more group homes which may or may not be located on the same or contiguous parcels of land, that are under the control and management of the same owner, operator, management company or licensee or any affiliate of any of them, and are integrated components of one (1) operation shall be referred to as integral facilities and shall be considered one (1) facility for purposes of applying federal, state and local laws to its operation. Examples of such integral facilities include, but are not limited to, the provision of housing in one (1) facility and recovery programming, treatment, meals, or any other service or services to program participants in another facility or facilities or by assigning staff or a consultant or consultants to provide services to the same program participants in more than one (1) licensed or unlicensed facility.
Integral uses - Any two (2) or more residential care programs commonly administered by the same owner, operator, management company or licensee, or any affiliate of any of them, in a manner in which participants in two (2) or more care programs participate simultaneously in any care or recovery activity or activities so commonly administered. Any such integral use shall be considered one (1) use for purposes of applying federal, state and local laws to its operation.
Operator - A company, business or individual who provides residential services, i.e., the placement of individuals in a residence, setting of house rules, and governing behavior of the residents as residents. Operator does not include a property owner or property manager that exclusively handles real estate contracting, property management and leasing of the property and that does not otherwise meet the definition of operator.
Permitted use - Any use allowed in a land use zoning district without requiring a discretionary approval, and subject to the provisions applicable to that district.
Residential Care Facility - A residential facility licensed by the state where care, services, or treatment is provided to persons living in a supportive community residential setting.
Single Housekeeping Unit - The occupants of a dwelling unit have established ties and familiarity with each other, jointly use common areas, interact with each other, share meals, household activities, and expenses and responsibilities; membership in the single housekeeping unit is fairly stable as opposed to transient, members have some control over who becomes a member of the household, and the residential activities of the household are conducted on a nonprofit basis. There is a rebuttable presumption that integral facilities do not constitute single housekeeping units. Additional indicia that a household is not operating as a single housekeeping unit include but are not limited to: the occupants do not share a lease agreement or ownership of the property; members of the household have separate, private entrances from other members; members of the household have locks on their bedroom doors; members of the household have separate food storage facilities, such as separate refrigerators.
Sober Living Home - a Group Home for persons who are recovering from a drug and/or alcohol addiction and who are considered handicapped under state or federal law. Sober living homes shall not include the following: (1) Residential Care Facilities; (2) any Sober Living Home that operates as a single housekeeping unit.
The difference between a Residential Care Facility and a Sober Living Home
A Residential Care Facility is one that is licensed by the California Department of Social Services (DSS) or the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). Residential Care facilities that provide drug and or alcohol abuse treatment are licensed by DHCS and are known as alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities. Homes are required to be licensed by the DHCS when at least one of the following services is provided: detoxification, group counseling sessions, individual counseling sessions, educational sessions, or alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment planning.
A Sober Living Home is a home used by people recovering from substance abuse, which serves as an interim environment between rehab and their future lives. These homes are not allowed to provide the same services as a DHCS licensed alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facility. Sober Living Homes are primarily meant to provide housing for people who have just come out of rehab and need a place to live that is structured and supportive for those in recovery.
How the City regulates sober living homes.
The City’s regulations for group homes, including sober living homes, and state licensed alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities, are found in Chapters XV and XVI of Title 13 (Zoning) Click Here and Article 23 of Title 9 (Licenses and Business Regulations) Click Here of the Costa Mesa Municipal Code. The general requirements are as follows:
Group homes, including sober living homes, with 6 or fewer residents, plus one house manager are allowed to locate in all residential zones with a special use permit (SUP), which requires:
A public hearing in front of the Development Services Director prior to issuance
Notice to all residents and property owners within 500’
Written Rules and regulations
Manager present 24-hours a day
o Garage and driveway must remain available for parking
Residents must park on site or within 400 feet
Compliance with all applicable provisions of the California Vehicle Code, such as those related to parking, stopping and licensure
No care and supervision is allowed
Full compliance with building and zoning codes
If a resident is evicted, operators must notify the resident’s emergency contact and provide transportation to their permanent address
If the resident has no home to return to or otherwise refuses transportation home, the operator must provide transportation to another facility if a bed is available
Sober living homes also require:
650’ separation from another sober living home or state licensed alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities
Occupants must be enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous
No use of alcohol or non-prescription drugs – violators must be evicted
Limits on the number of occupants subject to sex offender registration
A good neighbor policy that direct occupants to be considerate of neighbors, including refraining from engaging in excessively loud, profane or obnoxious behavior that would unduly interfere with a neighbor's use and enjoyment of their dwelling unit
No detoxification, counseling sessions or treatment or recovery planning allowed
State licensed alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities with 6 or fewer residents are regulated by the DHCS and are not subject to the City’s group home regulations pursuant to state law, but are subject to all other code requirements applicable to single-family dwellings.
Group homes, sober living homes, and DHCS licensed alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities with 7 or more residents may locate only in the multiple-family residential zones. The general requirements are:
A conditional use permit (CUP) must be obtained
Public hearing in front of the Planning Commission
Must be 650’ away from another group homes, sober living home, or State licensed alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facility
Sober living homes also require an operator’s permit which includes most of the same requirements as a SUP
Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes are permitted in single-family residential neighborhoods (R1 zones).
The state of California has determined that licensed facilities serving six or fewer residents are residential uses under state law, and cannot be subject to zoning regulations that do not apply generally to all residences in an area. Therefore, Residential Care Facilities serving six or fewer persons are permitted in the R1 zone. Group homes are subject to the City’s zoning regulations and require a SUP (CMMC 13-311).
Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes are permitted in multifamily residential zones (R2-MD, R2-HD, R3, PDR-LD, PDR-HD, PDR-NCM, PDC, and PDI).
Residential Care Facilities serving six or fewer persons are permitted in multifamily zones pursuant to state law. Group homes serving six or fewer residents require a SUP (CMMC 13-311). Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes serving seven or more persons require a CUP.
Pursuant to Federal regulations, the city is required to grant disabled individuals reasonable accommodation from zoning restrictions when necessary to allow equal use or enjoyment of a dwelling. An accommodation is reasonable if it does not cause undue hardship, fiscal, or administrative burdens on the municipality, or does not undermine the basic purpose a zoning ordinance seeks to achieve. A three-part test is applied to determining whether a reasonable accommodation is necessary:
(1) the accommodation must be reasonable and
(2) necessary, and must,
(3) allow a substance abuser equal opportunity to use and enjoy a particular dwelling.
The city must make exceptions in its zoning rules to afford people with disabilities the same access to housing as those who are without disabilities. However, fundamental or substantial modifications from municipal or zoning codes are not required.
When a state license is required.
The DHCS licenses facilities providing 24-hour residential nonmedical services to eligible adults who are recovering from alcohol or other drug misuse or abuse. Facilities are required to be licensed by the DHCS when they offer at least one of the following services:
Individual or group sessions
Recovery or treatment planning
Individualized services (e.g., vocational and employment, new skills training, social and recreational activities, peer support)
Sober Living Homes that provide group living arrangements for people who have graduated from drug and/or alcohol addiction programs, but do not provide care or supervision to those individuals, are not required to be licensed.
Overconcentration standards/separation requirements between Residential Care Facilities.
State law does not impose any separation requirements between DHCS licensed facilities serving those in recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction. However, the City has adopted a separation requirement of 650 feet between group homes and licensed facilities serving those in recovery. This standard only applies to those facilities subject the City’s permitting requirements (those facilities required to obtain a SUP or CUP).
Limitations on the number of Group Homes that can locate in a certain area.
The Department of Justice and HUD take the position, and most courts that have addressed the issue agree, that density restrictions are generally inconsistent with the Fair Housing Act. We also believe, however, that if a neighborhood came to be composed largely of group homes, that could create an institutional setting. Such a setting would be inconsistent with the objective of integrating persons with disabilities into the community. This objective does not, however, justify separations which have the effect of foreclosing group homes from locating in entire neighborhoods.
The City has established a separation standard of 650 feet between group homes and Residential Care Facilities serving those in recovery. This separation standard only applies to those facilities subject to the City’s permitting requirements. The intent is to allow about one such facility per block. The City adopted this standard to prevent neighborhoods from becoming institutionalized with multiple group homes. The intent of state law in allowing these facilities in residential neighborhoods is to allow those in recovery to live in a residential setting.
Group homes are not considered a business operation.
State law provides that cities must treat licensed facilities serving six or fewer residents as a single-family residential use. Federal and state fair housing laws protect people with disabilities from housing discrimination. Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts are disabled for purposes of anti-discrimination laws. When people in recovery live together in a sober living home, the city cannot discriminate on the basis of the disability, which means an ordinance cannot treat sober living homes differently than other similar uses in residential zones.
The City allows neighbors to provide input when the City is making a decision about granting a permit to a Group Home or licensed care facility to locate in a residential neighborhood.
The City modified its regulations to require a public hearing prior to approving a SUP. SUPs allow sober living homes serving six or fewer residents to operate in a residential zone. The City’s regulations stipulate that an SUP can only be denied if it fails to comply with the zoning code. The purpose of the hearing is to allow neighbors to provide evidence as to the facility’s compliance with the zoning code. Decisions regarding SUPs may be appealed to the Planning Commission.
Facilities serving more than seven residents require approval of a CUP. The Planning Commission must hold a public hearing prior to taking action on a CUP. The Commission may impose conditions of approval to ensure the use is compatible with the neighborhood. The decisions of the Planning Commission may be appealed to the City Council.
The City provides notices of these public hearings to all owners and occupants of property within 500 feet of the proposed group home. Notice is also published in the Daily Pilot at least ten days prior to the hearing, and notices are posted on the subject property. The City also maintains an email interest list and provides informal notice when hearings involving group homes are scheduled. To sign up for this list, Click here and enter in subject line:Interest list
Factors the City may consider when evaluating an application for a group home or licensed care facility
In the same way a local government would break the law if it rejected low-income housing in a community because of neighbors' fears that such housing would be occupied by racial minorities, a local government can violate the Fair Housing Act if it blocks a group home or denies a requested reasonable accommodation in response to neighbors' stereotypical fears or prejudices about persons with disabilities. This is so even if the individual government decision-makers are not themselves personally prejudiced against persons with disabilities. If the evidence shows that the decision-makers were responding to the wishes of their constituents, and that the constituents were motivated in substantial part by discriminatory concerns, that could be enough to prove a violation.
Of course, the City Council and Planning Commission are not bound by everything that is said by every person who speaks out at a public hearing. It is the record as a whole that will be determinative. If the record shows that there were valid reasons for denying an application that were not related to the disability of the prospective residents, the courts will give little weight to isolated discriminatory statements. If, however, the purportedly legitimate reasons advanced to support the action are not objectively valid, the courts are likely to treat them as pretextual, and to find that there has been discrimination.
The decision makers must base decisions on specific evidence regarding the application under consideration. If the facility is creating specific problems that interfere with the ability of surrounding residents to enjoy their property, those issues may properly influence the decision. However, City officials cannot base decisions to approve or deny these applications based on stereotypical fears or general concerns about possible impacts.
Types of conditions the City may impose when approving a group home or residential care facility.
When approving a CUP, the City may impose conditions necessary to ensure compliance with its regulations, and to address operational considerations that may be creating issues in the area. However, conditions may not discriminate against the residents of the home by denying them privileges enjoyed by other residents in the neighborhood. Since the City does not limit the number of cars that may be kept at any residence, for instance, the City may not impose conditions limiting the number of vehicles that can be kept at a group home.
Protections for individuals who may be evicted from a group home
The City requires operators to notify the resident’s emergency contact at least 48 before evicting a resident. The operator is also obligated to provide transportation back to the resident’s permanent address. Further, operators are required to contact OC Links, the County of Orange referral service, and the City’s Network for Homeless Solutions, to determine if services are available for the resident. If the resident refuses transportation back to their permanent address, and there is a bed available in another facility, the operator is required to provide transportation to that facility.
How to report disturbances and potential zoning violations.
The Community Improvement Division will respond to issues regarding noise, property maintenance, use of garage, or any other zoning violations. The phone number to contact is (714) 754-5623.
Complaints may also be reported online using the Costa Mesa Connect application here.
The Costa Mesa Police Department can respond to any disturbance complaints after normal business hours. The phone number to contact is (714) 754-5252.
If you would like to file a complaint directly to the State licensing agency, here is the link: DHCS complaints.
Locations of group homes and residential care facilities
The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) maintains a list of approved facilities here (the following link is not maintained by the city):
I received a violation notice from your office, but I have questions. Who can help me?
Each violation notice will have the code officer's contact information at the bottom. This will be in the form of the code officer's telephone number and email. Please call them directly regarding your notice. You can also call the Duty officer at (714) 754-5638 and they will direct you to the appropriate code staff.
I have a concern, but I don't see it listed under the ordinances and codes listed here. Where else could I find additional information?
Please call us. Although we may not be directly responsible for the concern you may have, this division partners with other City departments, Local/County agencies, and some State offices. We will try our best to send you in the right direction.
How many cases does code enforcement work on in a year?
Average Workload Indicators per fiscal year:
Number Code cases generated: 1,292
Number of code violations cleared: 1,130
Number of inspection warrants: 3
Number of criminal court cases: 15
Number of court appointed receivership's: 2
Number of administrative citations issued: 270
How quickly do you respond to a submitted concern?
In general, Code Staff responds within three business days of the submittal. Due the complexity of some submittals Code staff may take additional time to conduct research prior to responding. This is done in conjunction with balancing their current work load.
How do I file a concern?
Our Duty officer/main hotline is available at (714) 754-5638 from 8:00 am to 5:00 p.m.
Need to call about noise after hours? Call (714) 754-5252.
Use the City's Costa Mesa Connect online tool here, a simple online form or download the mobile version for your Apple or Android device. Just search for Costa Mesa Connect in the Apple store or Google play.
Code Enforcement is the prevention, detection, investigation and enforcement of violations of statutes or ordinances regulating public health, safety, business activities, building standards, land-use, and municipal affairs.
How you I report an issue online or with a smart phone app?
You can report issues such as potholes or graffiti through the city’s free smart phone app called Costa Mesa Connect. You can download the app for free from the Apple app store or Google Play (just type in “Costa Mesa Connect” in the search engine). You can also use Costa Mesa Connect here in the city’s website.
Why do I see the fire engine at the grocery store everyday, and who pays for their food?
The firefighters pay for their own food each day. If time permits and they are not busy running calls, you may see them shopping at a grocery store that is within their first-in area--the area in the city that each individual engine or truck is responsible for providing service. Firefighters do not get lunch breaks, or time off during the day, so many times you will see them leave the store while shopping to respond to an emergency call.
Why are there are so many firefighters at medical emergencies and at fire safety inspections?
Everything that we do requires us to work as a team, whatever the emergency. To arrive quickly, we must stay together and close to our fire apparatus (vehicles). Your safety and ours depends on the team being together and ready to respond to aggressively mitigate the emergency to which we have been called.
What information should I have when reporting a 9-1-1 emergency
When reporting a 9-1-1 emergency, be prepared to provide the exact location of the emergency, what is involved (auto, home, vegetation, etc.), number of persons involved, your location, and the phone number you are calling from so that you can be re-contacted if you become disconnected.
If possible, remain at the scene and provide emergency responders with your eyewitness account of what occurred or what occurred at the time of your arrival at the scene.
How long does it take a fire engine to get to a fire or medical emergency after 911 has been called?
It takes between 3-5 minutes for engines to arrive on scene after a 9-1-1 call has been placed.
What is the work schedule for firefighters?
Firefighters are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Currently, our department works what is called a 3/4 schedule. This means our firefighters work a 24-hour shift every other day for five days and are then off for four days. We have three shifts that rotate through this schedule.
When responding to a call in the “middle of the night” do the firefighters have to use the sirens even though traffic is minimal?
Yes, the state vehicle code requires that while responding Code Three, an emergency response vehicle must have all emergency lights on and the siren sounding. A Code Three response is initiated when life, property or the environment is in immediate danger. Some examples are chest pain, difficulty breathing, fire, hazardous materials spill, and auto accidents.)
Why did you chop that big hole in my roof? The fire was in the kitchen, not the attic!
During a structure fire, temperatures inside a structure are often 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. By cutting a hole in the roof and ventilating the building, the heat is allowed to escape through the roof thereby making it safer for firefighters to enter the building and apply water directly on the fire. This extinguishing strategy is key to stopping a structure fire quickly, and actually helps minimize damage to other rooms, and, most importantly, personal belongings.
When I call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency, why does the fire department show up?
The firefighters are the first responders for all medical emergencies. Our six fire stations are strategically located throughout Costa Mesa so that our response times can have a positive effect on medical emergencies. All of the fire engines in Costa Mesa are Paramedic engines and provide Advanced Life Support (ALS), while the ladder trucks are staffed with Emergency Medical Technicians who provide Basic Life Support (BLS). Additionally, while a private ambulance company will charge a fee to show up and provide care, the fire department is a free service for residents of the city.
What do firefighters do when they are not on emergency calls?
Firefighters work 24 hour shifts at their duty station. Training and equipment maintenance takes up a good deal of firefighter’s time when they are not on call. Firefighters constantly train so they are ready to handle any type of emergency. Firefighters also conduct daily fire safety inspections in every business, maintain and clean their stations, and educate the community through events such as school visits and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.
What can I expect when the Fire Department conducts a fire inspection in my place of business?
The Fire Department conducts fire and life safety occupancy inspections in each business within the city on an annual basis. Areas that are inspected include those in which the general public has access. Items such as panic hardware, smoke detectors, fire alarms, automatic fire sprinkler systems and portable fire extinguishers are inspected to ensure operational readiness.
Additionally, exit lights and occupant load signs must be present. Should a violation exist, a Notice of Correction will be issued to the responsible party and generally 21 days will be granted to correct the defects. If additional time is necessary, you may contact the Fire Prevention Bureau and request an extension.
Why does the Fire Department bring the fire engine just for a simple inspection?
Two reasons: First, these inspections are conducted by on-duty engine companies that must be ready to respond to an emergency call from the field. This is why you almost always see the personnel together as a crew and have the fire engine with them when they are out of the fire station. Second, an important part of the value of the public safety inspection is to familiarize your local firefighters with the buildings and businesses in Costa Mesa. While they check for hazards and consult with business owners on how best to eliminate or minimize the likelihood of a fire, they also pre-plan, or familiarize themselves with access points and the layout of the facility.
How often do I need to change the battery in my smoke detector?
We recommend that residents change the batteries in smoke detectors every six months. A good time to change the batteries is during the spring and fall time changes. Change your clock, change your batteries.
Where can I get information about current volunteer opportunities?
Current volunteer opportunities can be viewed here.
Where can I find employee compensation and benefit information?
The employee compensation and benefit report along with employee association contracts, salary resolutions and job descriptions are available for viewing here.
I am interested in a position with the City but it is not listed on the employment opportunites page?
If the position is not listed on the Employment Opportunities page, the City is not currently recruiting for the position. You may fill out an online interest card in order to be automatically notified if a recruitment opens. To fill out an online interest card, click here to view the list of City positions. Click on the position you are interested in, click on the link stating "Email me when jobs like this become available and complete the online form."
What employment opportunities does the City have and how can I apply for a job?
Click here for information about employment opportunities.
How do I schedule a ride along?
Any community member (18 years or older) may participate in our ride along program. To schedule a ride along, you may call (714) 754-5370.
How much does it cost to get a police report?
$9 check or cash payable to "City of Costa Mesa."
Does Costa Mesa police provide Livescan (fingerprinting) services?
Yes, although appointments are required due to the large volume of Livescan applicants. You can make an appointment by calling (714) 754-5033.
How can I get a restraining order?
It depends on what type of a restraining order your need. To obtain a domestic violence restraining order, you can call the Domestic Assistance Program at (714) 935-7956. To obtain a civil harassment restraining order, you can visit the Orange County Superior Court website.
Do I have to pay for a bicycle license?
No, bicycle licenses are free for Costa Mesa residents. Bicycle licenses can be obtained at the police department’s front desk or any fire station.
Where are the Costa Mesa parks and community centers?
You can find all Parks, Recreation, and Community Centers on this map. Or you can call the community centers at the following numbers:
Balearic Community Center
Downtown Recreation Center
Downtown Aquatic Center
Neighborhood Community Center (closed for construction)
Costa Mesa Senior Center
What time does the park open/close?
City parks are open from dawn to dusk.
What happens if it rains on the day of my event? Do I get a refund?
In the event of rain, please call (714) 754-5300 within 72 hours to obtain a refund of your park reservation fees and/or deposit. The fees will not be automatically refunded after 72 hours. A refund must be requested. Please allow 2-6 weeks for your refund to be processed. Another option would be to reschedule your event over the phone, free of charge.
What do I do if someone else is using the area I reserved on the day of my event?
Show your reservation permit to the other party and ask them to leave. If they do not cooperate, call the park rangers at (714) 754-5252, and they will come to assist you.
Can I host a birthday party at the park without a reservation?
Having a reservation allows you to have exclusive use of the shelter or park area. Without a reservation, the area you wish to use may already be in use by another person. Also, you may not deny access to the park shelter or area to the general public.
What form of payment is accepted?
Credit cards (Visa or Master Card), cash or check. Some exceptions may apply.
I want to cancel my reservation. What do I need to do?
Cancellations can begin over the phone during normal business hours. A written cancellation notice may be requested. A $25 transfer and cancellation fee will apply.
Business Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
What do I do if I reserved the wrong date and/or park for my event?
You will be able to make changes on your reservation provided that the date and park you want are still available. The City requires changes to be requested at least two weeks prior to the desired date. Transfers have to be done in person at the Parks and Community Services counter on the third floor of City Hall and a $25 transfer or cancellation fee will apply.
When will I receive a refund for my park reservation deposit?
It takes approximately 2-6 weeks after your event to receive a refund. Refunds are made only if the park area is left in a clean and damage-free condition all vendor documents were received and verified prior to event date.
Are there electrical outlets for use by the public at the park shelters?
TeWinkle Park, Shelter 1, is the only shelter that has electrical outlets for public use. The fee for use of the electrical outlet is $40 per day. The outlet cannot be used for inflatable bounce houses.
Am I allowed to bring my own barbecue to a city park?
Yes, you can bring your own barbeque provided that you abide by the City's barbecue rules and regulations.
Can I make a park reservation over the phone or online?
No. You must come to the Parks & Community Services counter on the third floor of City Hall between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to make a reservation and pay the required fees.
Do I need a permit to fly model aircrafts/drones airplanes at Fairview Park?
Yes. A permit to fly radio-controlled model aircraft/drones is required at Fairview Park. You must also show proof of adequate liability insurance in the form of a current Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) membership card or a current homeowner's/personal liability insurance policy specifically covering model airplane/aircraft flying, with a minimum limit of $500,000. Rules and regulations for flying the model aircraft can be found in the Costa Mesa Municipal Code (Title 12, Chapter II, Articles 2 and 3). A permit can be obtained at City Hall, Parks & Community Services Department, 3rd floor.
Can I put a hold on a park reservation before paying the fee?
No. Reservations are made in person on a first-come, first-paid basis.
Do I need a reservation to use a picnic shelter at a city park?
Yes. If you want the shelter reserved exclusively for your use, you must come to City Hall, Parks & Community Services Department, third floor to make a reservation. Fees vary depending on the number of guests and whether you are a Costa Mesa resident. A deposit is also required for petting zoos, pony rides, other animal attractions, caterers and vendors, and large park rentals. For additional information, call (714) 754-5300.
How do I contact a Parks and Recreation commissioner?
Members of the Costa Mesa Parks and Recreation Commission can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can call the Commission staff support at (714) 754-5300.
How do I make a reservation for a park shelter or picnic area?
Reservations must be made in person at least 3 days prior, or up to 1 year in advance of the desired date. No reservations will be accepted without payment of the required fees. Call the Parks & Community Services Department at (714) 754-5300 or check the Park Reservation Schedule. Then come to City Hall, 77 Fair Drive, 3rd floor, Parks & Community Services Department, Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to reserve the park and pay the fees.
How do I obtain a parcel at the Del Mar or Hamilton Community Garden?
The City currently has two community gardens. The Del Mar Garden at 170 Del Mar Ave. has 60 garden parcels. The Hamilton Garden at 523 Hamilton Street has 42 garden parcels.
Both gardens have waiting lists and as parcels become available, people on the waiting list are notified.
To check status of the waiting list for the gardens, send an e-mail to Cecily Renteria and provide your name, home address, phone number and e-mail address. The fees for a garden parcel are $60 per year along with a $120 garden key deposit. The garden parcels are renewed every January.
Fees are not prorated. If you need additional information, click here or call 714-754-5300.
How long may I reserve the park shelter or picnic area?
As of September 1, 2017, a minimum of 4 hours is required for reserving and must be during park operating hours. (dawn to dusk)
Do I need a reservation to have a picnic on an open grass area?
Yes, if you would like the area to be for your use only. Otherwise, it is open to the general public. If you are using an open space area, you are not allowed to have a bounce house, caterer, or animal attractions.
How long will a Costa Mesa green building program last?
Although green installation idea is not new, a green building program is a relatively new concept to Orange County. The City Council adopted the green building program again this year, to commence on, September 17, 2008, and to run through June 30, 2009.
How can I become green at home?
Update your lighting
Make it a policy to buy energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. You can now get a variety of shapes and perfectly match the color hue and lighting for each room. They look good and use at least two-thirds less power than regular lighting.
Buy Energy Star
When you are ready to buy new home appliances, buy smart. Check for the Energy Star rating. These more efficient machines can reduce your utility bill as much as 30-percent. Energy Star is a program sponsored by the EPA and the Department of Energy.
Those clunky power adaptors draw energy from the wall all the time. Unplug them individually or attach them to a power strip and turn off the whole switch when not in use. Around 75-percent of all electricity in a home comes from appliances that are turned off, but are still plugged in. Make sure that you only have those appliances plugged in where you're actually using the electricity. You will save on bills and we as a society will save on energy.
Practically every appliance uses electricity even when it's switched off. Unless it needs power to retain programming memory, hit the switch. Better yet, make it a family practice.
You can find out how much energy your home uses each year with an energy audit. Many utility providers and state energy departments will audit your home free or at low cost to help you find ways to be more energy efficient.
Make sure your ducts are properly insulated and install weather-stripping around windows and doors for a better seal. Tax credits on efficiency-increasing heating and cooling equipment make now a great time to upgrade. And remember, insulation pays for itself year round.
Invest in large, live houseplants that will help keep your indoor air fresher.
Place a water bottle filled with liquid or pennies into your toilet's water tank. This will cause the tank to use less water every time you flush.
Solar Water Heater
Consider eventually installing a solar hot water heater on your property. It would cost about $8,500 for a family of four. You can apply for federal and state tax credits, which add up to almost 50-percent. It'll take about six and a half years for the system to break even on its investment, then you're making free hot water.
Many utility companies offer renewable energy products that can be purchased as a percent of total energy use or in blocks of kilowatts. Buying green energy helps support the development and use of renewable fuel sources.
How can I become green through recycling?
There are few things you can't turn into something environmentally friendly while making your pocket a little greener in the process.
Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
Using simple ingredients such as baking soda, soap and vinegar, you can make cheap, easy, and non-toxic cleaning products, save money, time, and your indoor air quality. This is especially important if you have kids, pets or if there are elderly people in your home who are sensitive to chemicals in the air so you and your home will be healthier.
Paint can be made with the same volatile organic compounds found in nail polish or gasoline. Major manufacturers and some boutique brands have introduced low VOC paint. It spreads, covers, and leaves the room smelling just fine.
Limit your use of aerosol cans. Because they have limited recycling value, the containers will probably wind up in a landfill. Instead of aerosols, look for spray bottles, liquids, powders, and roll-ons.
Paper towels and napkins can be made from recycled paper, though in some cases the recycling costs more than making a brand new product. You won't hear that about cloth napkins, which can be washed and re-used again and again.
By making sure your lint filter is clean and your dryer exhaust free to open and close, you are essentially tuning up the efficiency of your appliance. It will run better and be more cost efficient.
For the ultimate in low cost laundry drying, put the clothes on either a drying rack or go outside and use the clothesline.
Trees and shrubs provide shade during the summer and can help shield your house from frigid winter winds. Both can help lower your energy bill.
Walking the Dog
Instead of plastic bags, scoop your doggie's doo in biodegradable bags.
Compost your leftovers
Composting helps reduce the amount of waste you send to the landfill. In the process, you create free, healthy fertilizer for your garden.
Collect the Rain
Place a barrel under a gutter downspout and let it fill over time. That rain water can be used for your plants and gardens.
How can I become green at work?
Green at home is one thing; green at the office has its own set of special challenges. Going green is a lifestyle choice, not just a home activity. So what are some steps you can take at work to make things more environmentally friendly?
Buy a laptop
Even an oversize laptop runs more efficiently and takes less energy than a desktop.
The paper trail follows many of us, adding hundreds of pounds of waste. You can reduce it with just a few changes. Save printing: send documents by email and keep files on your computer or flash drive, not a filing cabinet.
Print Double Sides
You can save plenty of paper by programming your printer to use both sides of the paper. In the case of a long report, do you really need 500 one-sided pages?
Refill and Reuse Cups
Many of us get take our coffee in the morning and were using plastic and cardboard cups - bring your own mug. You can leave one at work; you can even often times bring a reusable mug as you're commuting in your car. It can be refilled over and over again. Wash it at home it's a nice habit to get into that saves you one cup a day.
Pay Your Bills Online
It's not only quicker, cheaper, and easier to pay by computer; it also puts a major dent in the paper waste pile.
Recycle Your Appliances
Not just the big ones. Cell phones, PDAs, and laptops can all find a new purpose after you're done with them. Many organizations refurbish them for low-income families or schools.
Become Battery Smart
Stretch your battery use. A battery too drained to power a flashlight might be perfect to operate your TV remote. Before you pitch it - switch it!
Motion sensors, dimmers, and timers can be set to turn things on and off when needed.
Ask your commercial building manager about using gray water tanks. It's a system that recycles water from your building's toilets, washing machines and dishwashers. Impractical? Don't say that around New Jersey's Aspen Ice Skating Rink where the septic water is collected, treated and put back on the rink. At this point, the systems are a bit too costly for one-family use, but if you're in a commercial building or a planned community, consider making the water work for you.
Speaking of water, instead of bottled water around the meeting table, filter your tap for drinking water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it produces large amounts of wasteful containers.
How can I become green with my car?
Even if you can't buy the most environmentally friendly car, there are still plenty of things you can do to get from one place to another with minimum energy. Getting to work, school and running errands all add to your energy budget. To go green you don't have to give up transportation, just use it a bit more wisely.
Work From Home
Instant messaging and video conferencing now allow you to hold conferences or even take online classes. This means you save time and gas.
Use Public Transportation
Trains, buses, boats, car pools, bicycles, and your own feet.
When driving is necessary, use an inexpensive hourly rental car.
Even if you can't afford a fancy hybrid, there are plenty of cars that get great mileage. A car that gives you another 10 more miles to the gallon puts $1,000 dollars a year back in your pocket!
Properly inflate your tires, change your air filter and drive 55 mph on the highway.
Using bio fuels goes way beyond ethanol. Look for environmentally friendly oil car fluids and, of course, read how to use and dispose of them properly.
Car Air Conditioning
It's practically standard on modern cars. Use it wisely. At higher speeds, open windows create drag and lower your mileage. Roll them up and use the air and recirculation. At slower speeds and around town, roll down your windows and catch a cool breeze.
One Right Turn Deserves Another
The time spent in your car idling while waiting to turn against oncoming traffic burns fuel and costs millions each year. In metro New York, United Parcel Service (UPS) reduced emissions by 1,000 metric tons with a software map program customized for every driver to minimize lefts.
Avoid the drive thru – instead of idling in line with your engine running for several minutes, save gas by parking and going inside for your order.
Commercial car washes can be more efficient than home washing. Check to make sure that they clean and recycle the water.
How can I become green through recycling?
Smart recycling can be environmentally sound and pleasing, too. Companies like IceStone make durable surfaces made from recycled materials, like glass and concrete. Recycling is not limited to bottles. Used doors, windows, and fixtures can all be bought at a fraction of the new price.
Do I need a building permit?
There are very few exemptions to the requirements for building permits. As a general rule, building permits are required for the construction of structures, additions, alterations, retaining walls, and most miscellaneous structures. It is suggested you check with the Building Division prior to constructing masonry walls and all types of fencing as there may be requirements for permits. Re-roofing also requires a building permit. Swimming pool enclosures require plan review, permits and inspection.
Electrical, plumbing and mechanical permits are required for new construction, alterations to existing systems, most repairs to existing systems, etc.
Prior to commencement of work, it is recommended you call the Building Division and check for permit requirements. You can reach the Building Division at (714) 754-5273.
How do I check building permit information?
Permit records must be reviewed at the Building Division counter on the second floor of City Hall. Records may be reviewed Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
How do I obtain a business license?
Contractors may obtain a business license when applying for permits. You may download the application by using this form [PDF]. Contractors who need to renew their business licenses may also pay the renewal fee when obtaining permits.
If you have specific questions pertaining to the business license process, it is suggested you contact the Business License office at (714) 754-5235.
The Business License office is on the first floor of City Hall.
How do I obtain a film permit?
Permit applications are processed through the City Manager's Office and must be received a minimum six (6) business days prior to the film prep and shoot date. You can apply online using this form [PDF]
How do I obtain building permits?
The scope of work determines how permits are obtained. In most instances, permits for attached patio covers, block walls/fences up to six feet in height, in-ground pools, retaining walls up to four feet in height, storage sheds, etc., may be issued at the counter. A minimum of two site plans are required. The site plan must indicate the property layout and show the location of the proposed work. Standard plans are available for block wall and patio construction.
Permits for minor residential repair work, such as water heater change outs, electrical service upgrade, furnace change outs, etc. are generally issued at the counter.
Permits for larger projects usually require plan check.
The Building Division counter staff is available to assist you in obtaining your construction-related permits. The Building Division counter is open Monday through Friday (except holidays), 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Note: It is suggested you arrive at the Building Division counter no later than 4 p.m. if possible. This will allow adequate processing time for obtaining over the counter permits and/or plan check submittal.
How do I speak with an inspector?
Office hours for contact with the Inspection staff are between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Due to the nature of their work, they spend most of the day in the field conducting inspections. You may leave a message on their voice mail.
The City of Costa Mesa Building Division provides construction permits, inspections, plan checks, and code enforcement. Business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m, Monday through Friday. The office is located at 77 Fair Drive, 2nd Floor, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
Property owners and licensed contractors may obtain permits for construction-related activity at a site. An agent may obtain permits on behalf of the property owner or licensed contractor upon submittal of the completed authorized agent forms.
Agent for property owner
Owner Builder Verification.
Owner Builder Information Property owners who are considering allowing an authorized agent to pull permits on their behalf should review the Owner Builder Information prior to signing the Owner Builder Verification/authorization form. Property owners who are considering pulling permits as owner/builder should review the Owner Builder Information prior to signing the Owner Builder Verification form.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the Owner Builder Information or the authorized agent process please contact one of the Building Technicians:
Agent for Contractor
The Declaration of Authorization for Agents of Contractors to Apply for Permits must be notarized.