ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SAN RAMON REPEALING AND REPLACING TITLE B, DIVISION B7 (PUBLIC PEACE, MORALS AND WELFARE), CHAPTER IV (ALARM SYSTEMS) OF THE SAN RAMON MUNICIPAL CODE
THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN RAMON DOES ORDAIN as follows:
SECTION 1: TITLE B, DIVISION B7 (Public Peace, Morals and Welfare), CHAPTER IV (Alarm Systems) of the Municipal Code of the City of San Ramon is hereby repealed in its entirety and replaced with the following:
CHAPTER IV (Alarm Systems)
B7-31. Purpose and Scope.
The City Council finds and declares as follows:
A. The purpose of this chapter is to establish reasonable standards for alarm system users, to ensure that alarm owners are held responsible for the proper use and operation of their alarm systems, and to encourage the use of security systems and best practices.
B. There are significant burdens placed on San Ramon Police Department resources due to responding to excessive false alarm calls.
C. The requirements and restrictions imposed by this chapter are reasonably necessary to reduce the incidents of false alarms reported to the San Ramon Police Department. A reduction in these types of alarms will enhance the availability of San Ramon Police Officers and increase their ability to respond rapidly when emergencies or critical incidents occur involving members of the San Ramon Community.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
“Alarm Administrator” means a person or persons designated by the City to administer the provisions of this chapter.
“Alarm Event” means an occurrence that triggers an Alarm System activation, to which Police is requested to respond by an Alarm User or a Monitoring Agency.
“Alarm Installer/Alarm Installation Company” means a person, company, firm, or corporation which has the contractual agreement with the Alarm User and is engaged in selling, leasing, installing, servicing or monitoring Alarm Systems. This entity shall be licensed in compliance with city, county and state laws.
“Alarm Permit” means a permit issued to an Alarm User by the City, allowing the operation of an Alarm System within the City during the Permit Year.
“Alarm System” means an assembly of equipment installed at a fixed location designed to detect and/or verify an occurrence of an illegal or unauthorized entry or activity, and trigger an Alarm Event.
“Alarm User” means any person, corporation, partnership, proprietorship, governmental or educational entity or any other entity owning, leasing or operating an Alarm System, or on whose premises an Alarm System is maintained for the protection of such premises.
“Cancellation” means that the Monitoring Agency provides notification to Police that response by law enforcement is no longer being requested.
“Enhanced Call Confirmation” means a reasonable attempt by the Monitoring Agency to contact the alarm site and/or Alarm User, to determine whether an Alarm Event is valid before requesting law enforcement’s response.
“False Alarm” means the activation of an Alarm System when, upon observation by Police, there is no evidence of unauthorized entry, robbery or other such crime attempted in or on the premises.
“Habitual Alarm” means an Alarm System that produces repeated False Alarms.
“Monitoring Agency” means a person, company, firm, or corporation responsible for monitoring the Alarm System’s activity, responding to an Alarm Event and contacting Alarm User for a response, if necessary. This entity shall be licensed in compliance with city, county and state laws.
“Permit Year” means the twelve (12) month period, beginning on January 1st and ending on December 31st of each calendar year, in which an Alarm Permit is issued.
“Police” means the City of San Ramon Police Department.
“Verified Alarm” means an Alarm Event in which a trained central station operator or Monitoring Agency utilizing standardized protocol has determined a high probability of the presence of a human(s) and that a criminal offense is in progress.
B7-33 through B7-35.-Reserved
B7-36. Alarm Permit.
A. Permit Required.
1. No person shall use an Alarm System without first obtaining an Alarm Permit for such Alarm System from the City.
2. Each Alarm Permit shall be assigned a unique permit number.
3. Multiple Alarm Systems. For properties with multiple Alarm Systems, a separate Alarm Permit shall be required for each separate and distinct address or tenant.
4. No fee shall be required for the initial Alarm Permit.
5. The initial Alarm Permit will be valid for the remainder of the Permit Year in which it was issued.
1. The Alarm Permit registration form shall be provided by the City.
2. An Alarm User shall request an Alarm Permit registration form from the City and submit the completed Alarm Permit registration form within fifteen (15) days after the Alarm System installation.
3. Type of Verified Alarm System. If an Alarm User has a Verified Alarm System protecting the premise, the Alarm User shall identify the type of verification system used (for example, video verification or audio verification) in the Alarm Permit registration form.
4. Installer of the Alarm System. The Alarm Permit registration form shall require the name of Alarm Installer/Alarm Installation Company that installed the Alarm System or, if the Alarm System is installed by the Alarm User, DIY (“Do It Yourself”) is indicated.
5. Monitoring Agency. The Alarm Permit registration form shall require the name of the Monitoring Agency responsible for monitoring the Alarm Services per Section B7-39.
C. Transfer of Possession.
1. If the premises at which an Alarm System is maintained transfers possession, the person taking possession of the property shall file a registration form for an Alarm Permit within thirty (30) days of taking possession of the property.
2. Alarm Permits are not transferable and are distinctly held by an identified Alarm User.
D. Reporting Updated Information.
1. Whenever the information provided on the Alarm Permit registration form changes, the Alarm User shall provide current information to the City within thirty (30) days of the change.
2. Each year after the issuance of the Alarm Permit, permit holders will receive from the City a form requesting updated information for their Alarm Permit. The permit holder shall complete and return this form to the City whether or not any of the requested information has changed. Failure to comply will constitute a violation and may result in a civil penalty.
E. Annual Renewal Permit.
1. The Alarm User shall renew their Alarm Permit annually on January 1st of each Permit Year with no fee.
2. Police response to an Alarm Event at a property without a valid annual renewal will be subject to the same penalty as failing to register for an Alarm Permit per Section B7-41.A.3.
B7-37. Duties of the Alarm User.
A. Maintain the premises and the Alarm System in a manner that will reduce or eliminate False Alarms.
B. Take reasonable steps to prevent a Habitual Alarm. Police may, in its discretion, discontinue police responses to Alarm Events from Alarm Users who frequently have Habitual Alarms and such Alarm Users fail to rectify their Habitual Alarm in a timely manner.
C. Provide the Alarm Permit number to the Monitoring Agency and, if applicable, to the Alarm Installer/Alarm Installation Company if they are acting as the Monitoring Agency to facilitate Police dispatch to an Alarm Event.
D. Respond or cause a representative key holder to respond to the Alarm System’s location within a reasonable amount of time when notified by the Police.
E. Not intentionally cause an Alarm Event for any reason other than an occurrence or activity that the Alarm System was intended to report.
F. Obtain a new Alarm Permit from the City and provide current information if there is a change in address or ownership of the location of the Alarm System per Section B7-36.C.
G. Maintain a current, valid Alarm Permit which includes seeking timely annual renewals of the Alarm Permit.
H. Accept responsibility for the Alarm System and undertake the same duties as described in Section B7-39 (Duties of the Monitoring Agency) when the Alarm User installs the system themselves (i.e. DIY “Do It Yourself”).
B7-38. Duties of the Alarm Installer/Alarm Installation Company.
Every Alarm Installer/Alarm Installation Company that enters into a contract with an Alarm User in the City shall obtain and maintain any required city license(s).
B7-39. Duties of the Monitoring Agency.
Every Monitoring Agency that enters into a contract with an Alarm User in the City shall comply with the following:
A. Obtain and maintain the required state, county and/or city license(s).
B. Respond twenty-four (24) hours a day to an Alarm Event, when notified, and contact the Alarm User for a response, if requested.
C. Ensure the monitoring center utilizes Enhanced Call Confirmation.
D. Ensure the monitoring center will make reasonable attempts to contact Alarm User or its designee prior to contacting Police dispatch and requesting Police response to an Alarm Event.
E. Communicate to Police dispatch any available information regarding specifics of the Alarm Event.
F. Communicate a Cancellation to the Police dispatch as soon as possible following a determination that Police response to an Alarm Event is unnecessary.
B7-40. Prohibited Acts.
A. It shall be unlawful to activate an Alarm System for the purpose of summoning Police when no burglary, robbery, or other crime dangerous to life or property is being committed or attempted on the premises, or otherwise to cause a False Alarm.
B. It shall be unlawful to install, maintain, or use an audible Alarm System which can sound continually for more than ten (10) minutes.
B7-41. Violation-Civil Penalties and Infraction.
A. Civil Penalties for False Alarms and Failure to Register/Renew Alarm Permit.
1. Civil penalties for Police response to False Alarms within a Permit Year may be assessed against an Alarm User. There is no charge and only a warning letter issued for the First False Alarm within a Permit Year; however, the Second False Alarm and above within a Permit Year will be charged at the fine amounts outlined below:
Number of False Alarms Action Taken Fines
1 Written Warning: $0
2 Written Notice: $50
3 Written Notice: $150
4 and above Written Notice: $300
2. If Cancellation occurs prior to Police arriving at the scene, this is not considered a False Alarm for the purpose of civil penalty and none shall be assessed.
3. Failure to obtain or to renew an Alarm Permit shall be an assessment of a civil penalty in the amount of $25 for each violation.
4. An Alarm User who is found to have multiple False Alarms, and an unregistered Alarm System or a lapsed Alarm Permit in a Permit Year, shall incur a civil penalty in the amount of $25 that is in addition to any of the False Alarm fines outlined in B7-41.A.
5. Payment of Civil Penalties. Civil penalties shall be paid to the City within the timeframe stated in Section A1-40 of this Code.
6. Hardship Waiver. The Chief of Police or designee shall review all requests for a hardship waiver and may grant a hardship waiver to reduce an Alarm User’s fine amount after a Second and Third False Alarm upon showing that: (a) Alarm User has made a bona fide effort to comply after the Second and Third False Alarms, and (b) payment of the full amount of the fine would impose an undue financial burden on the Alarm User.
B. Infraction. Any violation of this chapter is an infraction.
B7-42. Enforcement of Violations.
The City may enforce violations of this chapter by civil and/or administrative actions, including but not limited to, issuance of administrative citations under Title A of this Code.
B7-43 through B7-45.-Reserved
A. Appeals Process.
1. Written Notice of Appeal.
a. Assessments of civil penalties and other enforcement decisions made under this chapter and issued by administrative citation may be appealed by filing a written notice of appeal with the Police within thirty (30) days from the date of the administrative citation.
b. The written notice of appeal should state the basis for the appeal and include copies of any relevant evidence to support the appeal.
c. The failure to give written notice of appeal within the time period stated above in subsection A.1.a. shall constitute a waiver of the right to contest the assessment of civil penalties or other enforcement decisions.
2. Hearing on Appeal.
a. Appeals shall be heard through the administrative citation hearing process established in Sections A1-41 through A1-47 of this Code, except that the Chief of Police or designee shall act as the hearing officer.
B. Appeal Standard.
1. The hearing officer shall review an appeal of the assessment of civil penalties or other enforcement decisions identified in the administrative citation using a preponderance of the evidence standard.
2. Notwithstanding a determination that the preponderance of the evidence supports the assessment of civil penalties or other enforcement decision identified in the administrative citation, the hearing officer shall have the discretion to dismiss or reduce civil penalties or reverse any other enforcement decision where warranted.
C. Judicial Review of the Hearing Decision.
The hearing officer’s decision shall be final, but may be subject to judicial review as specified in Section A1-50 of this Code.
In the interest of public safety, all information contained in and gathered through the Alarm Permit registration forms, False Alarm records, applications for appeals and any other alarm records or information received or requested by the City pursuant to this chapter shall be held in confidence by all employees and/or representatives of the City.
B7-48. Government Immunity.
A. Alarm Permit issuance is not intended to, nor will it, create a contract, duty or obligation, either expressed or implied, of Police response.
B. Any and all liability and consequential damage resulting from the failure of Police to respond to an Alarm Event is hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity as provided by law is retained.
C. By applying for an Alarm Permit, the Alarm User acknowledges that the Police response may be influenced by factors such as: the availability of Police units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing levels and prior response history.
B7-49 through B7-57.-Reserved
SECTION 2: CEQA
The City Council finds that this ordinance is not subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to Sections 15378 and 15061 of the CEQA Guidelines in that the activity has no potential for resulting in a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment.
SECTION 3: Severability
If any part of this Ordinance is held invalid for any reason by a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portion of this Ordinance, and the City Council hereby declares that it would have passed the remainder of the Ordinance if such invalid portion thereof had been deleted.
SECTION 4: Effective Date
This ordinance shall take effect thirty (30) days from the date of its passage. Before the expiration of fifteen (15) days after its passage, this ordinance shall be posted in three (3) places within the City of San Ramon along with the names of the members of the City Council voting for and against the same.
The foregoing ordinance was introduced at the meeting of the City Council of the City of San Ramon on November 23, 2021