Frequently Asked Questions

This is one of the most popular questions we are asked.
Crews work 48 shifts, and have to provide their own meals.  Every day a cook is selected at each station and it is their responsibility to come up with a menu and shop.  After every meal the bill is divided amongst the crew members and everyone pays their equal parts.  Our number one responsibility is to serve this community and its citizens.  In order to provide the most effective and rapid care, the crews take the apparatus to the stores so they can stay in service, and respond to any emergencies that occurs in the city.

The City Attorney handles legal matters specific to the City of Alameda and prosecutes violations of the ordinances of the City.


The District Attorney’s office prosecutes all misdemeanor and felony matters arising under state law occurring within Alameda County.  For inquiries regarding criminal cases involving the District Attorney’s office, please call (510) 272-6222 or visit its website as

Typically, utilities may be permitted in accessory buildings. One sink may be permitted and work benches may also be allowed. However, such amenities may not displace existing parking spaces in a garage. All utilities are subject to zoning, building code, and other permit requirements.

No. Accessory buildings within the required rear yard are limited to one story. Accessory buildings not located within the required rear yard would be subject to requirements for main buildings.

Accessory buildings may have only one story but may not exceed fifteen feet (15') at a gable roof ridge or ten (10') feet at the top of the wall.

If the required rear yard is 1,000 square feet or less, your accessory building may be permitted up to a size of 400 square feet. For properties with required rear yards of 1,000 square feet or more, the accessory buildings may not occupy more than 40% of the required rear yard.

Garages, sheds, and other accessory buildings may be built up to the side and/or rear property lines when the building is located seventy-five feet (75') or more from the front property line. Walls located closer than three feet (3'0") to a property line may have no openings and shall be of one hour fire-resistive construction.


The required rear yard is usually within twenty (20') feet of the rear property line. Please check with planning staff to verify requirements specifically for your property.

A Building Permit and Planning Permit/Design Review is required when an accessory building is more than 120 square feet in size (12 feet x 10 feet exterior dimensions). When utilities, i.e. electrical, plumbing, mechanical, etc., are present, permits will be required regardless of the size of the accessory building.

An accessory building is a detached subordinate building, any part of which is within a required minimum yard of the subject Zoning District, and the use of which is incidental to that of the main building on the same lot, or to the use of the land. For properties within a Residential zone, or with a Residential use, the use of such accessory buildings are restricted to garages, carports, storage sheds, and similar buildings which are found by the Building Official to conform to the "U" (utility) occupancy classification.

Chain link fences are prohibited on any residentially zoned or developed parcel. However, chain link fences up to six (6’) in height may be permitted in rear and side yards on residential properties, where such yard is not a street side yard nor a rear yard of a corner or double frontage lot, and where any such yard us bit adjacent to public and quasi-public land uses. Chain link fencing may be allowed in other areas, subject to Use Permit application and approval. 

Arbors and decorative fence posts are allowed, but they require a Planning Permit approval. The Permit is required to review compatibility and safety with its surroundings.

See-through style material refers to any fencing material in which the amount of opaque fence material, excluding its supporting posts, is less than 50% of any square foot of said fencing material. Materials may include, but is not limited to, pickets, lattices, or decorative wrought iron.

In required setback areas on commercial and industrial properties, fences may not exceed to eight (8’) feet in height, except in visibility zones.

Front Yard

Fences may be up to three (3’) feet tall, and may be extended up to four (4’) feet with see-through fencing material. Front yard fences may be further extended to (5’) feet tall upon approval of a Planning Permit.


Side and Rear Yard

Fences may be up to six (6’) feet tall and may be extended up to eight (8’) feet with see-through fencing material, except in visibility zones. In visibility zones, no fence may exceed three (3’) feet in height.


Please note: The “visibility zone” is generally the area on the corner of two intersecting roads. The “visibility zone” is determined by the City Engineer and the dimensions of this zone are based on traffic and safety considerations.

Prohibited materials include barbed wire, razor wire, and other similar materials are not permitted as any part of any barrier or fence.

A Building Permit (Permit Application) is required for fences that exceed seven (7) feet tall. Certain types of solid fences, such masonry walls, will require a Building Permit regardless of height. A Planning Permit may also be required under certain circumstances described below. Please consult City staff prior to starting construction.

Decks that are less than 50 square feet, have no exterior access and are cantilevered or supported from the main structure may extend three feet into the required front, rear or street side-yard. Such a deck must maintain a setback at least 3 feet from any property line and cannot project more than 6 feet from the supporting wall to its furthest outward extension.


Deck Height

Setback Requirement

Design Review

12 inches and under

No Setback


Over 12 inches/up to 30 inches

Three foot at rear and side yards


Over 30 inches/up to 6 feet

Over 6 feet

Same setback as main structure

Same setback as main structure

Design Review

Design Review


As part of Design Review, screening and/or landscaping may be required to mitigate potential privacy impacts. Roof decks may be required to provide a 6-foot architecturally compatible visual screen to ensure privacy to neighboring properties.

Decks above 30 inches and more than 200 square feet are included in the main building lot coverage calculation. Decks are calculated at 50 percent of their area in excess of 200 square feet.

Heights and setbacks of decks on slopes higher than 10 percent are calculated based on the average height of numerous points. The top elevation of railings and privacy screens cannot exceed the building height limit.

Decks higher than 30 inches that are not encompassed by the exterior walls of the main building structure require guardrails at least 42 inches in height at the edges. Guardrails must withstand a 20-pound per foot load applied at the top of the rail.  Intermediate members in open-type railing cannot be spaced more than 6 inches apart.

A deck is a flat, uncovered platform constructed of wood, concrete, or any impervious material, extending at grade or elevated over yard areas or atop a structure.  All uncovered terraces, patios, or porches are considered and regulated under the same rules for decks.

The City’s Employment Application can be downloaded in Adobe PDF format and either mailed or dropped off in person to the Human Resources Department.

Call (510) 747-6830 from 7:30am to 8:30am Monday through Thursday to speak to a building inspector. Please be prepared to give the inspector the job address and permit number. Inspections should be scheduled at least two days in advance.

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 7:30am until 4:30pm. Tuesdays from 7:30am until 4:00pm. The department is closed to the public on Fridays.

Permit histories are available online for all permits dating back to 1982. For a complete, certified permit history for all work back to 1909 please visit the Permit Center.

Yes, it is possible to order copies of commercial and residential plans through the Permit Center. However, if the plans are stamped and/or signed by a licensed engineer or architect, a letter of release from the licensed professional must be provided to a staff member for approval before copies can be ordered.

Plans without licensed professional stamps and/or signatures can be readily ordered. Please contact the Permit Center for cost related to copies at (510) 747-6800.

Fences over six feet high require permits. Fences that are six feet or less in height do not require permits.


According to the local Zoning Ordinance, fences located within residential districts may be permitted if they meet the minimum setbacks. For example, on corner lots, fences are restricted to thirty-inches nearest the radius of the street corner. To verify fence height requirements on your property, contact a Planning Department staff member at (510) 747-6850.

You will only need a permit if your detached asscessory structure is more than 120 square feet OR more than 12 feet high. Even if your structure is smaller than this, you may need planning approval for setback requirements.

Beginning July 1, 2011 all single family dwellings must have carbon monoxide detectors installed outside of each separate dwelling unit sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom(s) and on every level of a dwelling unit including basements. See handput for further details.

Monday through Saturday 7:00am to 7:00pm

Just fill out this form and submit it to

Code Enforcement

2263 Santa Clara Ave, Rm. 190

Alameda, CA 94501


or Fax to (510) 747-6804

Please contact Code Enforcement staff at (510) 747-6800 for further details.

Because it is a misdemeanor to do so unless you have a written notification from the Chief Building Official.

Please refer to this Asbestos Fact Sheet from the California Department of Public Health.

Visit the California Department of Public Health website. The City's inspectors are not mold specialists and cannot conduct any specialized mold testing.

Unfortunately this is a civil issue. Visit your local library and check out "Neighbor Laws". This book will be a good resource on what you can or cannot do.

Please contact the Housing Development Division  at (510)747-4316.

All individuals, partnerships, corporations, and sole proprietors conducting business in the City of Alameda are required to have a business license. This includes persons dealing with residential and commercial real estate rentals or who operate home-based businesses within the city. For more information contact the Finance Department at (510) 747-4881.

The Alameda One-Stop Career Center located at the College of Alameda helps local businesses with training, pre-screening and interviewing of applicants, and with referrals of pre-qualified candidates. The One-Stop Center draws its applicants from college students, Alameda residents, and 14 other area centers that form the East Bay Works labor resource pool. For more information, please contact the One-Stop Career Center at (510) 748-2208.

If you need help starting or growing a small business, please contact the City’s Economic Development Department at (510)747-6890.  You may also download our “How to Start a Business Guide” and refer to the Starting a Business section of our website.

Currently the City does not have any property for sale.  For property to lease, please contact the City’s property management company, PM Realty Group at (510) 749-0304.

Contact the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, (510) 667-7721. They provide restraining order service for a fee. The Alameda Police Department only serves Emergency Protective Orders (EPO)

Alameda Police Department does not give out warrant information over the telephone. Please go to any police department or local court with a valid I.D. to determine a warrant status.

Sometimes we can do better and we always want to improve. To file a complaint,  review the Citizen Complain Brochure, Click Here.  After viewing the Citizen Complain Brochure, if you want to speak to an on duty Patrol Sergeant, call (510) 337-8824 and provide your contact information for a call back if he/she is not available.  If you want to file a formal complaint, you can download a formal complaint form, Click Here, and come to APD to drop off the completed form at the front counter with the on duty Patrol Sergeant or Inspectional Services Sergeant.

We always like to hear if we do a good job! If there is a specific officer/police technician you want to recognize, please take the time to call the on duty Patrol Sergeant at (510) 337-8824 and provide your contact information for a call back if he/she is not available. OR, you can write a quick letter addressed to the Chief of Police, so a copy of it can be submitted to the officer/police technician's personnel file for recognition.  If you do not have or remember the officer/police technician's name, when you call, please provide the date and time of the contact so the on duty Patrol Sergeant can research the call and provide that infromation to you.

Complete a request form at the Records Counter, Monday through Thursday from 10 to 4 p.m. You will be contacted when the report is ready for viewing. A fee will be charged should you wish to purchase a copy of the report. Call a Records Clerk at (510) 337-8411 for further information.

Moving violation citations are paid at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, 661 Washington Street, Oakland, (510) 627-4701.

For parking citations, Click Here.

Equipment violation citations can be signed off at the Alameda Police Department or by any police officer in any city.

Yes, but the following is required:

  • A letter with your signature authorizing the person to pick up your vehicle.
  • A legible copy of your driver license or identification card.
  • The person picking up the vehicle release must have a valid driver license.
  • The vehicle must be currently registered and insured.

If your vehicle was towed for any reason, other than a recovered stolen vehicle, the fee is $125.00 (cash or credit during normal Records business hours; cash only during non-business hours) payable at the time of release. There will be additional fees at the tow company for their services. If you are a victim of a stolen vehicle, the Alameda Police Department fee of $125.00 is waived; however, there will be additional fees at the tow company.

If your vehicle was towed because the driver was unlicensed or had a suspended license, the registered owner must come to a tow hearing on Tuesdays or Thursdays at 2 pm. It is suggested you arrive at the police department by 1:45 p.m. You must bring proof of ownership and the $125 fee (cash only). There will be additional fees at the tow company for their services. A licensed driver, proof of insurance, and current registration must also be brought to the tow hearing.

To locate your vehicle the following information is required:

  • Vehicle license plate number or VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) number.
  • Registered owner's name and address.
  • Year of the vehicle and vehicle make.
  • Last known location of vehicle.

Collision reports cost $11. Police reports cost $0.30 per page for the first five pages and $0.10 per page thereafter.

To purchase a copy of a releasable crime report, you must complete an "Application for Release of Information" request form by visiting our Records Unit, Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Releasable reports should be available for purchase within 10 days of receipt of the request form, unless the investigation is incomplete. When the report is ready, a Records Clerk will contact you for pick up.
You will need to show a picture I.D. and pay the fee at that time.

For information about the status of your request, please contact the Records Unit at (510) 337-8411,
Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Please call (510) 337-8411 or come to the Records Unit at 1555 Oak St, Alameda, Monday-Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You will be required to give:

  • Name
  • Picture I.D.
  • Date of birth
  • Report Number
  • Type of Report (e.g. traffic accident, crime, or other)
  • Date, time, and location of occurrence

Copies of releasable crime reports are available to authorized parties. Government Code 6254 and case law restricts the supplying of police reports in certain circumstances. Once a crime report is filed with the District Attorney's office, suspects, victims, and other interested parties should contact the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse, 661 Washington Street, Oakland, CA (510) 268-7500.

Reports are usually ready for pick up at the Records window at APD in 5 to 10 working days.

Current job opportunities are listed here.

View open positions and apply either online, in person, or by mail.

Create an online profile at to be automatically notified when the City opens a new recruitment.

New jobs are posted as positions become available.

The recruitment bulletin will contain a list of the job duties and the minimum requirements of a current recruitment. To view the job duties and requirements of a position not currently open, click here.

Applications are only accepted for positions that are currently open for recruitment. The City does not keep applications or resumes on file. Create an online profile at to be automatically notified when the City opens a new recruitment.

The City does not keep applications on file. Applications are only accepted for positions that are currently open for recruitment. Create an online profile at to be automatically notified when the City opens a new recruitment.

Resumes are not accepted in lieu of a City application, but if you are applying for an open position it can be attached or uploaded with your application.

Typically, notifications are sent by email 2-3 weeks after the closing date of a job. After that time, applicants can email to inquire on the status of the recruitment.

View Benefits by bargaining unit or click on the specific position you are interested in for the relevant Benefits link.

  • Download and complete the City Claim Form (See Filing a Claim for link); or

  • Pick up a City Claim Form from the City Attorney's Office - 2263 Santa Clara Avenue, room 280, or City Clerk's Office - 2263 Santa Clara Avenue, room 380; or

  • Call the City Attorney’s Office (510-747-4750) and request that a City Claim Form be emailed to you.

The City Clerk will forward the claim to the City Attorney's Office. A claim must be filed with the City Clerk's Office in a timely fashion as prescribed by law.  The Risk Manager oversees all claims.



Alameda County Law Library

125 - 12th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 208-4800


Every county in California has a law library that is open to the public and free to use.  You can find a link to each library’s website on San Francisco Law Library’s website


No.  The City Attorney is the attorney for the City of Alameda.  The City Attorney’s Office provides legal services to the Mayor, City Council, City Clerk, City Boards and Commissions, and all city departments of the City of Alameda. 


For a list of organizations in Alameda County that may be helpful to citizens in seeking legal representation and/or answers to general legal questions please visit the Resources section of the City Attorney webpage.



Please contact the Human Resources Department at 510-747-4900.  Staff can verify employment including the position title, employment hire and separation dates.  Salary information can be obtained by faxing your request to 510-865-4043.  A signed release may be required.

The Alameda Municipal Code can be accessed at:

  1. (You can search within the Alameda Municipal Code for a particular topic or section);
  2. The Alameda Main Library, as well as its branches, has a copy of the Alameda Municipal Code; to
  3. Contact the City Clerk's Office at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue, Room 380, 510-747-4800.

For zoning and planning issues, call the Planning Division of the Community Development Department at (510) 747-6800 or (510) 747-6850.



Superior Court of the County of Alameda - Small Claims Court locations


Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse,

661 Washington Street,

Oakland, CA 94607



Hayward Hall of Justice

24405 Amador Street

Hayward, CA 94544


Small Claims actions can also be filed at:



George E. McDonald Hall of Justice

2233 Shoreline Drive
Alameda, California 94501
Phone: (510) 263-4300

The City provides ambulance transport services, it is not a private ambulance service. This allows the City to provide a higher level of service to the community than would be possible if they contracted with a private provider.


This is evident in the faster response times to medical emergencies to initiate care that the current service provides. In critical medical emergencies where seconds can make a difference between life and death this is a very important detail.

A fire truck, also known as a ladder truck, carries multiple ground ladders of varying length and purpose; an aerial ladder used to reach upper floors of buildings; rescue equipment for forcible entry, extrication, etc; numerous power tools such as chain saws, ventilation fans, and lighting equipment.


A fire engine, also known as a fire pumper, carries thousands of feet of fire hose, nozzles, hose couplings and other equipment. It also carries 500 gallons of water in a tank for a quick attack on a fire which is critical to fire control until they can establish a dedicated water supply from a fire hydrant.

Multiple fire engines and/or trucks will only show up to a single vehicle accident if there are extenuating circumstances involved which could require additional personnel. An example of this would be an accident with someone trapped in a vehicle who needs extrication.


Under this circumstance we would send a fire engine, with a paramedic, and carrying hose and water supply. This is necessary as there is a potential for fire in any vehicle accident. We would also send a fire truck which carries rescue equipment and power tools. All of these operations require enough trained personnel to manipulate equipment and extricate the trapped person successfully.  Under these circumstances we would also have an ambulance respond in case there is a medical emergency.

A fall for a senior citizen is often a very frightening and sometimes life altering incident. One of the major causes of traumatic injuries to seniors is from falling down. We take these types of emergency responses very seriously because of our experience.


The Alameda Fire Department is required to comply with the Alameda County Emergency Medical Services protocols call for medical emergencies. These protocols require a fire engine or truck with at least one paramedic to be on scene at all emergency medical calls. They also require a transport provider (ambulance) to respond with at least one paramedic to all emergency medical calls.


In Alameda the Fire Department provides ambulance first responder (fire engine or truck) and transport provider (ambulance) services. In other parts of the County a private ambulance company provides the transport services. So, for example, if you are involved in a medical emergency in Hayward, a Hayward Fire Engine and a Paramedics Plus ambulance will show up.

Firefighters in Alameda work a 48 consecutive hour shift. They work together as a three person crew on a fire engine or truck or as a two person crew on a fire ambulance. Keeping the crew together at all times is critical to facilitate responses to emergencies. Breaking up a crew to send one person shopping or on other details would delay these responses.


While they are on duty they eat their meals at the firehouse. In order to purchase the food they need they shop at local establishments. When you see a fire engine or fire truck at a grocery store it is because the firefighters assigned to that engine or truck are still able to respond to an emergency from that location. They often leave their groceries behind to respond and then come back afterwards to finish their shopping.


One last fact, firefighters pay for all their own meals while they are at work.