Frequently Asked Code Questions

What is a groundwater basin?

A groundwater basin is an area underlain by permeable materials (such as sand and gravel) that is capable of storing and providing a significant supply of groundwater to wells. The California Department of Water Resources’ Bulletin 118 identifies the groundwater basin in our region as the “Delta-Mendota Subbasin”. The Delta-Mendota Subbasin is a long, relatively narrow groundwater basin on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley that covers portions of six counties: Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera and Fresno. For more information about groundwater basins, visit the California Department of Water Resources’ website at

What does a Groundwater Sustainability Agency do?

A key part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) is maintaining local control over groundwater resources. Locally-formed Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) are responsible for complying with the requirements of SGMA and overseeing the sustainable management of our region’s groundwater resources. SGMA requires GSAs to prepare Groundwater Sustainability Plans, implement actions to bring the subbasin into sustainability, and engage local stakeholders in the SGMA process.

SGMA grants the following authorities to all GSAs to aid in the implementation of GSPs:
• Adopt rules, regulations, ordinances, and resolutions to implement SGMA
• Monitor compliance and enforcement
• Require registration of groundwater wells
• Require appropriate measurement devices and reporting of extractions
• Investigate, appropriate and acquire surface water rights, groundwater and groundwater rights into the GSA
• Acquire or augment local water supplies to enhance the sustainability of the groundwater basin
• Propose and collect fees
• Adopt and fund a GSP according to existing laws

The GSAs in the Delta-Mendota Subbasin may choose to use some, all, or none of these authorities.

What is the Substainable Grounwater Management Act (SMGA)?

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act is a California State law passed in 2014. SGMA’s goal is to ensure the long-term sustainable management of the State’s groundwater resources. SGMA requires agencies throughout California to meet certain requirements. These include:
• Forming Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA)
• Developing Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP)
• Achieving sustainable groundwater levels within 20 years


What is a Groundwater Sustainability Agency?

A Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is one or more local public agencies that implement the provisions of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. To be eligible to serve as a GSA, an agency must be a local public agency that has water supply, water management, or land use management responsibilities with the groundwater basin. In the Delta-Mendota Subbasin, this includes cities, counties, public water agencies, irrigation districts, and a resource conservation district. Some GSAs in the Delta-Mendota Subbasin only include a single agency. Other GSAs include multiple agencies.

Why was the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act established?

Over the years, California water managers, individual well owners, and communities that rely on groundwater have observed a rapid decline of water levels in some groundwater basins. Groundwater quality has also declined in some communities. These problems were worsened by the historic drought experienced in California from 2012 to 2017. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was passed to provide local agencies with new authorities and tools to sustainably manage their region’s groundwater resources.

What is a GSP?

A Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) is a plan developed by a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. A GSP must outline how the GSA will implement, manage, and measure specific actions to sustainably manage the groundwater levels in the groundwater basin. The GSPs for the Delta-Mendota Subbasin must be submitted to the California Department of Water resources no later than January 31, 2020. The GSAs will then be required implement the actions outlined in the GSP.

How can I participate in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan development process?

Six Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) covering the Delta-Mendota Subbasin are currently being developed. All six GSPs will be submitted to the California Department of Water Resources together. However, they are currently being developed at different rates. Each GSP will be adopted at a public meeting. Prior to adoption, the Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) will hold public comment periods to receive input on the GSPs. The GSAs will also conduct public outreach throughout the GSP development process. Ask to be added to your local GSA’s contact list to receive email updates on their GSP and notices about GSP workshops, public meetings, and opportunities for public comment.

What type of structures can I build without a permit?

  • One-story detached accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet.
  • Fences not over 7 feet (2134 mm) high. Contact the Zoning Section for all information at 559-600-4540.
  • Oil derricks.
  • Retaining walls that are not over 4 feet (1219 mm) in height measured from the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless supporting a surcharge or impounding Class I, II or IIIA liquids.
  • Water tanks supported directly on grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2:1.
  • Sidewalks and driveways not more than 30 inches (762 mm) above adjacent grade, and not over any basement or story below and are not part of an accessible route.
  • Painting, papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, counter tops and similar finish work.
  • Temporary motion picture, television and theater stage sets and scenery.
  • Prefabricated swimming pools accessory to a Group R-3 occupancy that are less than 24 inches (610 mm) deep, do not exceed 5,000 gallons (18 925 L) and are installed entirely above ground.
  • Swings and other playground equipment accessory to detached one- and two family dwellings.
  • Window awnings supported by an exterior wall that do not project more than 54 inches (1372 mm) from the exterior wall and do not require additional support of Group R-3 and U occupancies.
  • Non-fixed and movable fixtures, cases, racks, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches (1753 mm) in height.

How many residences can I have on my property?

Generally one residence is allowed “by right,” but the zone district, in which your property is located, will determine what process a property owner can go through to allow more than one. Contact the Zoning Section for all information at 559-600-4540.

Can I live in a travel trailer?

California Title 24 does not allow the use of a recreational vehicle to be used as a dwelling unit unless allowed in an area zoned and designated as a mobile home park or trailer park. The California Health and Safety Code defines a Recreational Vehicle (RV) as a motor home, travel trailer, truck camper, or camping trailer, with or without motive power, designed for human  habitation for recreational purposes.

Are there requirements for storing inoperative vehicles?

In most residential zone districts inoperative vehicles must be stored in a garage or carport. Call the Zoning section at 559-600-4540 for information on your property.

Are there requirements for maintaining my front yard?

Yes the Neighborhood Beautification District (NBOD) is an overlay zone intended to assist in protecting and preserving the integrity of Fresno County’s unincorporated urban neighborhoods  located within the Fresno/Clovis Metropolitan areas.

What are the requirements for storing my RV on my property?

In most residential zone districts RVs are to be stored in the rear yard behind a five foot fence. Call the Zoning section at 559-600-4540 for information on your property.

How many animals (chickens, horses, goats) can I have on my property?

The number of animals allowed on any particular property depends on the size of the property, the zone district in which the property is located and the type of animals. Call the Zoning section at 559-600-4540 for information on your property.

How long will it take to resolve the violation?

The Code Enforcement Section strives for compliance within 30 to 60 days. However, time frames will vary on a case by case basis due to the nature of the violation, the owner’s response, legal processes and other variables.

What does Code Enforcement do?

The Code Enforcement section is responsible for enforcing laws of the State of California and some ordinances of the County of Fresno in the unincorporated areas of Fresno County.

What are typical residential zoning violations?

  • storing unlicensed motor vehicles
  • storing inoperative motor vehicles
  • open dump conditions•junk yard conditions
  • keeping of dogs and cats in excess of the maximum amount allowed
  • use of property to store commercial equipment
  • recreational vehicle parking•illegal accessory structures
  • commercial and/or industrial uses
  • fences that exceed the maximum height allowed in the setback area

What are the most common code violations?

  • Zoning Compliance - boat and RVs parked in front yards, junk cars, abandoned vehicles
  • Lot and Lawn Maintenance
  • Waste Materials and Trash - must be properly disposed of and not stored on property
  • Construction - most construction projects require a permit
  • Unsafe Buildings - abandoned buildings will be addressed by code enforcement and the building department. These must be repaired or removed.
  • Expired permits
  • Conversion of buildings without permits or inspections

Who turned me in?

We receive complaints from a number of sources including internal referrals, outside agencies and the general public. Of those complaints received from the general public, we keep a complainant's name confidential for various reasons. A court order is required to find out the complainant's name.

What will happen if I make a complaint?

Problems are addressed in a confidential, friendly and understanding way. On receiving a complaint, a code enforcement staff member will mail the property owner a courtesy letter explaining the alleged complaint and ask that the owner contact us for information on how to abate the alleged violation(s). The property owner is then given time to take care of the violation, whether it be by moving an inoperable vehicle to the garage, trimming back weeds, properly permitting a building or use, repairing a fence, or relocating trash cans and debris.

While most property owners comply after the first notification, those who don't receive additional notices and/or fines. In addition, some violations may be abated by the County at the owner’s expense.

What can a person do if a neighbor is likely in violation of an code or ordinance?

The first step you should take when you believe a neighbor is in violation of a code or ordinance is to call Code Enforcement at (559) 600-4550 for a complaint form or go to our Code Enforcement page to register a complaint.

Please give the exact address and description of the problem you feel is in violation. All complaints are confidential.