ENVIRONMENTAL / CODE ENFORCEMENT
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I file a complaint and what should I do if I believe there is a violation?
The Environmental Division responds to complaints of possible violations of the Torrance Municipal Code. Such violations may include enforcement of property maintenance and nuisance codes, both community noise and airport noise codes, inoperative vehicles, weed abatement and zoning and land use code violations. To report a suspected violation, call the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929 to report any suspected violations. You will need to provide the address of the property in question.
As a property owner, why can't I keep my property the way I want it?
Everybody's rights are protected under the law. You have certain freedoms as long as they do not infringe on the freedoms of others. When it comes to property, the condition of your property and the activities that take place on it impact the property values and quality of life of your neighbors and community. Therefore, the City of Torrance has implemented codes to regulate property maintenance and health and safety issues.
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?
No. Anyone can make an anonymous complaint, but providing Environmental Division staff with a name and phone number will enable the Code Enforcement Officer to provide the best follow-up action possible. Please be assured that all callers' identities are protected. Our files are not readily available to the general public. Many times we need to contact the caller to confirm either continuing problems or that the violation has been eliminated. It is also important to be able to contact the caller in the event we find that the "problem" is not a violation enforceable by our Division or, maybe, not even a violation at all. If a caller is anonymous and we're unable to let them know these circumstances, the caller may be left with the negative impression that we have ignored their complaint.
"This" has been here for years, how come you're enforcing it now?
The fact that a violation may be in existence for many years simply means that it has not been "caught". Often a citizen complaint brings us to a property where we can document the violation once brought to our attention. To make an official complaint, call the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929. You will need to provide the address of the property in question.
Can you do anything about the trashy conditions on the property next to me?
Yes. To make an official complaint, call the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929. You will need to provide the address of the property in question.
What can I do about a property that has overgrown weeds? Bushes?
Call the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929 to make an official complaint. You will need to provide the address of the property in question.
How tall can bushes/shrubbery be in the front yard?
Bushes/shrubbery, per Torrance Municipal Code (Section 92.13.1), cannot be higher than Four (4) feet. For further information, please contact the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929.
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 mature landscape conditions exist. Code Enforcement does not have the authority to require a property owner to trim or remove this type of vegetation unless it overhangs into a public right-of-way impeding either pedestrian or vehicular traffic or unless the vegetation poses a risk to health and safety or is dead. 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 Dispute Resolution services or the court system, with or without an attorney.
South Bay Center for Dispute Resolution (310) 376-7007.
Can I pave my front yard? Do I need to have landscape?
The front yard, per Torrance Municipal Code (Section 92.5.14), may not be paved more than 50% and must have landscape that is maintained.
Can I park my car on the lawn/my front yard?
No. Torrance Municipal Code (Section 92.32.6) strictly prohibits the Parking of recreational vehicles, campers, boats, cars or other mobile equipment on the grass, dirt or other landscaped areas surrounding a house.
Can I or family members live in a recreational vehicle?
Private Property: No, not permanently. Torrance Municipal Code (Section 92.5.12) does not allow recreational vehicles to be used for permanent housing.
Public Property: No. For more information contact the Torrance Police Department at (310) 328-3456.
How do I report non-operational or abandoned vehicles?
On Private Property: Call the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929 to make an official complaint.
On the Street: A vehicle can only be parked in the same spot for 72 hours. If you become suspicious of a certain vehicle that has exceeded the 72-hour limit, please call the Torrance Police Department's Traffic Division at (310) 618-5557.
What are the City regulations/codes for oversized vehicle parking and who do I contact?
The City of Torrance does not allow permanent or full time parking of oversized vehicles on the street. For Temporary use parking permits, contact the Transportation Planning Division at (310) 618-5990. If you think there is a violation please contact the Torrance Police Department at (310) 328-3456.
What department(s) do I need to contact when renovating my home or building a new home?
For building permit information contact the Building & Safety Division at (310) 618-5910. For information on zoning & land use contact the Development Review Division at (310) 618-5990.
Does the City have regulations/codes for Construction hours, construction noise and who do I call?
Yes. Contact the Building & Safety Division at (310) 618-5910.
What do I need to pass the Environmental Final on my home or business?
Please visit the following link for more information: "Environmental Inspection for Final"
Are you allowed to use your garage as a living space?
No. Torrance Municipal Code (Sections 91.2.28 & 93.2.1) prohibits the conversion of a garage into living quarters. To report a suspected violation, contact the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929. You will need to provide the address of the property in question.
How many people can live in a Single Family residence?
Torrance Municipal Code does not regulate the number of related nor non-related persons who may reside in one house.
I think I have mold in my house/apartment. Who do I call?
You should be aware that the identification of types of molds and the determination of the possible toxic nature of them is a complex science and may require the hiring of professional experts in the field. If you have health concerns, contact the Los Angeles County Health Department at (213) 250-8055.
To address building concerns, i.e. leaking plumbing or roofing, you can contact the Building and Safety Division at (310) 618-5910.
Should I be concerned about stagnant water on my property?
Yes. Torrance Municipal Code prohibits stagnant water from standing/collecting on private property.
Should I be concerned about my neighbor's pool that is stagnant and green?
Yes. Torrance Municipal Code (Section 92.32.5) prohibits stagnant water from standing/collecting on private property. Call the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929 to make an official complaint. You will need to provide the address of the property in question.
Can I drain my pool into the street or city gutters?
No. A pool cannot be drained into the street. It must be drained into your sewer system usually through an exterior cleanout. For more information please refer to the NPDES Pool Pamphlet.
If you witness someone draining a pool or spa into the street call the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929 at the time the event is occurring. If the event is occurring during the weekend, holidays or any hour that is not standard business hours, please call the Torrance Fire Department at (310) 781-7042. You will need to provide the address of the property in question.
Do I need a license or permit to run a business out of my house/home?
Yes. Every person engaged in operating a home occupation shall obtain a City Business License and a Home Occupation Permit.
Some restrictions for a business in your home also include but not limited to:
- no employees at the residence
- no walk-in customers
- no displays
- limited stock storage
- no products sold at the home
- limited mechanical equipment used
To obtain a Business License please call the Business License & Permits office at (310) 618-5923. For information on obtaining a Home Occupation Permit call the Development Review Division at (310) 618-5990.
Do I need a permit for a yard/garage sale? How many can I have?
At this time the City of Torrance does not require a permit for garage/yard sales. We allow two sales per calendar year. It is illegal to post temporary signs/"Yard Sale" signs on any Public property, trees, utility poles and/or Traffic signals (per Torrance Municipal Code and California Penal Code).
Can I post signs on telephones poles or public property?
No. California Penal code prohibits posting on telephone, street light, utility poles and traffic standards and prohibits other signage on Public property (Torrance Municipal code has specific exemptions for realty signs). Call the Environmental Division for further information or to file a complaint at (310) 618-5929.
Do I need a permit for my business sign?
Yes. Business signage requires a Sign Permit. Contact the Environmental Division for information on the type and size of signs allowed for your business. The Environmental Division can then issue the permit for the sign.
You may contact the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929.
Do I need a permit for a banner?
Yes. All temporary banners require a Banner Permit. For more information on Banner Permits, please contact the Environmental Division at (310) 618-5929.
What are the City regulations/codes regarding handbills on private property and/or vehicles?
Handbills may be placed on the door of a residence or business or handed to a person at the property providing there are no signs prohibiting the delivery of handbills (i.e. NO SOLICITORS, NO TRESPASSING, etc), per Torrance Municipal Code (Sections 33.3.2 & 33.3.6).
NO handbills shall be placed on any vehicles per the Torrance Municipal Code (Section 33.3.3).