Concord, CA 94524

Alarm Ordinance

Chapter 9.20



9.20.010:  Findings and purpose.

9.20.020:  Definitions.

9.20.030:  Alarm user permit required.

9.20.040:  Alarm user permit – Application.

9.20.050:  Alarm user permit – Grant or denial.

9.20.060:  Alarm user permit – Duration and renewal.

9.20.070:  Alarm user permit – Changes – Non Transferability.

9.20.080:  Alarm systems standards.

9.20.090:  Prohibitions.

9.20.100:  Alarm company responsibilities.

9.20.110:  Fees.

9.20.120:  False alarms.

9.20.130:  Suspension and revocation.

9.20.140:  Reinstatement of alarm permit and police response.

9.20.150:  Appeals.

9.20.160:  Violations.

9.20.010:  Findings and purpose.

A. Findings.  The city council finds that the regulation of the sale, installation and use of alarm systems and the control of false alarms are necessary to promote the health, welfare and safety of the people. The sale, installation and use of substandard alarm equipment and the occurrence of false alarms constitute a threat to the safety of public safety officers and to the public in general.

B. Purpose.  The purposes of this chapter are to: (1) license and regulate alarm systems, alarm users, and the activities of alarm companies in the city; and (2) protect public safety by reducing or eliminating the number of false alarms within the city that prevent, hinder or delay public safety officers from responding to other calls for service.

(Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.020 Definitions. (As used in this chapter)

Administrator means the person designated by the chief of police to administer this chapter.

Alarm company means a person or entity engaged in the sale, providing, monitoring, maintaining, leasing, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, removing, or installing of any alarm system.

Alarm dispatch request means a notification to the police department by the alarm company or alarm user that an alarm has been activated at a particular alarm site.

Alarm permit or alarm user permit means the annual permit required under PHMC 9.20.030 by the alarm user to operate an alarm system.

Alarm site means a single premises or location served by an alarm system.

Alarm system means an assembly of equipment and devices arranged to signal the presence of a situation requiring urgent attention, including the commission or attempted commission of an unauthorized entry into a building or premises. It includes, but is not limited to, hardwired systems and systems interconnected by radio frequency which, when activated, emit a sound or light or transmit a remote, local, visual, or electronic signal or message that is intended to summon a law enforcement response to such location. An alarm system may be manual or automatic.

Alarm user means a person having or maintaining an alarm system on real property owned or controlled by the user. It includes an alarm subscriber. Alarm user does not include an alarm company. Calendar year means the period of January 1st through December 31st in which alarm dispatch requests and false alarms are calculated.

Chief of Police means the chief of police of the city or his or her designee.

Excessive false alarm means more than one false alarm during a calendar year. Excessive false alarms do not include false alarms that occur during the 30-day period immediately following the installation and activation of an alarm system.

False alarm means an alarm dispatch request to the police department when the situation or activation of the alarm system does not require a police response or when the responding officer finds no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense after having completed a standard investigation of the alarm site. The circumstances described in PHMC 9.20.120. A will not be counted as a false alarm.

False alarm response fee or false alarm fee means the fee assessed under PHMC 9.20.120.

Monitoring means the process by which an alarm company receives signals from an alarm system and relays an alarm dispatch request to the police department. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.030 Alarm user permit required.

Each alarm user must have a permit issued by the police department alarm administrator at least 24 hours before activation of an alarm system. A separate alarm user permit is required for each alarm system. The alarm user permit must be renewed annually. See PHMC 9.20.060.

This chapter and the permit requirement do not apply to any of the following: audible alarms affixed to motor vehicles, boats, trailers, or recreational vehicles; alarms designed or intended to detect the presence of fire or smoke; devices installed on a temporary basis by the police department; handheld or portable personal safety devices; or alarm systems that are deactivated, disconnected, or turned off. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.040 Alarm user permit – Application.

The application for an alarm user permit shall be on a form provided by the alarm administrator. The completed application and the alarm permit fee under PHMC 9.20.110 shall be submitted to the alarm administrator. The information in the application form shall include: 

A. Alarm user Include name, complete address (including apartment/suite number) and telephone numbers of the alarm user.

BAlarm site 

  1. The address of the alarm site; 
  2. The classification of the alarm site as either residential or commercial; 
  3. Type of business conducted at a commercial alarm site; 
  4. For each alarm system at the alarm site, the classification of the alarm system (i.e., burglary, holdup, duress, panic alarm or other) and for each classification whether such alarm is audible or silent; 
  5. Any dangerous or special conditions present at the alarm site; 
  6. The date of the last on-site service by an alarm company.

C. Responders  Names and telephone numbers of at least two individuals who are able and have agreed to: 

  1. Receive notification of an alarm system activation at any time; 
  2. Respond to the alarm site within 45 minutes; 
  3. Upon request, grant access to the alarm site and deactivate the alarm system if necessary. 

D. Signed certification  Signed certification from the alarm user stating the following: 

  1. The date of installation, conversion or takeover of the alarm system, whichever is applicable; 
  2. The name, address, and telephone number of the alarm company performing the installation, conversion or takeover; 
  3. The alarm company responsible for providing repair service to the alarm system; 
  4. That a set of written operating instructions for the alarm system, including written guidelines on how to avoid false alarms, have been left with the alarm user by the alarm company; 
  5. The Alarm Company has trained the applicant in proper use of the alarm system, including instructions on how to avoid false alarms; and
  6.  Acknowledgment that law enforcement response may be influenced by factors including, but not limited to, the availability of police units, priority of calls, and staffing levels.

E. Other  Such other information as the alarm administrator may reasonably deem necessary to carry out the purpose and intent of this chapter. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.050 Alarm user permit – Grant or denial  The alarm administrator shall grant an alarm user permit unless the alarm administrator finds any one of the following:

A. The alarm system is deficient in that it does not comply with the alarm systems standard established by this chapter.

B. The applicant or his or her agent has knowingly made any false, misleading or fraudulent statement of a material fact in the application for an alarm user permit, or in any report or record required to be filed with the city.

C. The alarm company or alarm user refuses inspection, examination or evaluation of the alarm system.

D. The applicant has had a similar-type alarm user permit previously revoked for good cause within the past year, unless the applicant can provide evidence to the alarm administrator’s satisfaction that a material change in circumstances has occurred since the date of revocation indicating his/her ability to comply with the provisions of this chapter. (See PHMC 9.20.140.)

E. A violation of this chapter within three years before the date of application, unless the applicant complies with the reinstatement requirements of PHMC 9.20.140. If the application is denied, the alarm administrator shall notify the applicant in writing of the denial, stating the reasons for such denial, and advising the applicant of the right to appeal under PHMC 9.20.150. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.060 Alarm user permit – Duration and renewal

The alarm permit fee is an annual fee for each alarm user, in an amount adopted by resolution of the city council and set forth in the master fee schedule. For a new alarm user, the permit fee is based on the proportionate number of months remaining in the calendar year. The alarm user permit (or renewal) is valid for one calendar year, January 1st through December 31st. The annual renewal fee is delinquent if not paid by January 15th of each year. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.070 Alarm user permit – Changes – Non Transferability

An alarm user shall inform the alarm administrator in writing of a change that alters any of the information listed on the alarm permit application. The alarm user shall inform the administrator within 15 calendar days of the change. An alarm user permit is not transferable. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

Systems standards.  An alarm system shall be a system listed with Underwriters Laboratory, Inc., or be marked to state by other nationally recognized testing organizations, “Design evaluated in accordance with SIA CP-01 Control Panel Standard Features for False Alarm Reduction.” The alarm administrator may grant an exception to this requirement when the alarm administrator determines that the alarm system is substantially equivalent to, or exceeds, the applicable Underwriters Laboratory, Inc., alarm testing standards. The alarm administrator may require the alarm company or alarm user to submit documentation and certification from a qualified authority necessary to make the exception determination. Each alarm system shall have an uninterruptible power supply or backup power supply so that the failure or interruption of the normal electric service will not activate the alarm system. This backup power supply must be capable of at least four hours of operation. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.090 Prohibition

The alarm administrator may immediately revoke the alarm permit of any alarm user who knowingly installs operates, or permits the operation of an alarm system in violation of these prohibitions.

A. Shutoff  No audible alarm may sound for more than 15 minutes from the time of activation. This may be accomplished with either an automatic shutoff, or by manual operation. If the alarm system has an automatic shut off with a rearming phase, the rearming phase must be able to distinguish between an open and a closed circuit, and if the circuit is broken the system shall not re-arm.

B. Type of sound  No alarm system shall be installed or operated which emits a sound that is similar to that of an emergency vehicle siren or civil defense warning system.

C. No automatic connection to city  No person shall use or cause to be used any equipment or device that terminates directly to the police department or that automatically sends any pre recorded message or signal to the emergency 9-1-1 telephone line, city, police department, its officers or employees without the prior written consent of the chief of police.

D. Proper use  No person shall knowingly activate or use an alarm system for any purpose other than its intended purpose (i.e., burglary, holdup, duress, panic alarms or other). (Ord. 827 § 1, 2007)

9.20.100  Alarm company responsibilities

A. Notification of changes  If an alarm user changes or contracts with another alarm company for monitoring services at a particular alarm site, or if an alarm company assigns or transfers an alarm user’s account to another alarm company, the alarm company to which the transfer or assignment is made shall report the transfer or assignment to the alarm administrator in writing within 15 calendar days. The notice of assignment or transfer shall be provided on a form provided by the alarm administrator. (See also PHMC 9.20.070.)

B. License requirements  Each alarm company operating in the city shall have a state alarm company operator license and a city business license, as follows:

  1. Company operator license No person shall engage in, conduct or carry on an alarm company within the city without possessing and presenting upon request a valid state alarm company operator license, in accordance with California Business and Professions Code Section 7500 and following. Every person engaged in, conducting, or operating an alarm company within the city shall post a copy of the license on the premises where the alarm company is located. If the license is suspended, revoked or otherwise rendered invalid by the state issuing authority, the alarm company shall immediately (within three days) notify the city alarm administrator in writing of the state action. Failure to do so constitutes a separate violation of this code. 
  2. City business license A city business license is required for each alarm company doing business in the city, under PHMC Chapter 5.05.

C. Payment of false alarm response fee  An alarm company is responsible for the payment of a false alarm fee when the responding police officer determines that an on-site employee of the alarm company directly caused the false alarm. (See PHMC 9.20.120.C.) (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.110 Fees

A. Fees generally  Each alarm user in the city is subject to the following fees, which are established by resolution of the city council and set forth in the city’s master fee schedule. Each fee shall represent the estimated reasonable cost of providing the service: 

  1. Alarm user permit fee, 
  2. Alarm user permit renewal fee, 
  3. False alarm response fee 

under PHMC 9.20.120.

B. Public agencies  A public agency (including the federal, state and county government, and school district) or a special purpose agency (such as irrigation or water district) is required to obtain an alarm user permit, but is exempt from the alarm user permit fee and the renewal fee. However, a public agency is subject to the false alarm response fee.

C. Time of payment  All fees owed by an applicant must be paid at the time of submitting the completed alarm permit application and before issuance or renewal of an alarm permit.

D. No refunds  No refund of a new or renewed permit fee will be made, except in extraordinary circumstances not the fault of the alarm user and when approved by the chief of police. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.120 False alarms.

A. False alarm defined  “False alarm” is defined at PHMC 9.20.020. However, the following circumstances will not be counted as false alarms under this chapter: 

  1. A false alarm caused by a power failure; 
  2. A false alarm, if the alarm company or alarm user promptly notifies the police department dispatch before Police officers at the property that a police response is not necessary.  Multiple false alarms occurring in a 24-hour period will only be counted as one to allow for corrective measures by the alarm company or alarm users. 

B. False alarm penalty  A false alarm is not punishable as a criminal matter under PHMC Chapter 1.30. Otherwise, all  violations of this chapter are subject to enforcement as set forth in PHMC 1.25.010.

C. False alarm response fee The city may assess a false alarm fee for each police response to a false alarm after the first false alarm in a calendar year. The amount of the fee is established by resolution of the city council. (See PHMC 9.20.110.) The alarm administrator shall notify the alarm user in writing after each false alarm. The notification shall include: 

  1. The amount of the fine for the false alarm; 
  2. The fact that police response will be suspended effective with the third false alarm within the calendar year (excluding duress, holdup and panic alarms); 
  3. A description of the appeals procedure. (See PHMC 9.20.130 (suspension) and PHMC 9.20.150 (appeal).) False alarm response fees are due within 30 calendar days of the date of invoice. The alarm user is responsible for payment of the fee whether the alarm site is monitored or not. However, if the responding officer determines that an onsite employee of the alarm company directly caused the false alarm, the false alarm fee will be charged to the alarm company, which shall be responsible for its payment. 

(See also PHMC 9.20.100.C.) (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.130 Suspension and revocation

A. Suspended police response. 

  1. Grounds for suspension. The alarm administrator may suspend law enforcement response to an alarm site for any of the following: a. The alarm user has had more than three false alarms in one calendar year (under PHMC 9.20.120.A); b. There is no current alarm user permit; c. Failure by the alarm user or designated responder (under PHMC 9.20.040.C) to respond within 45 minutes to a request made by a police department representative to permit or provide access to the property where an alarm system has been activated. 
  2. Procedure. At least 10 days before suspending an alarm user permit, the alarm administrator shall notify the alarm user in writing of the intended action, with a copy to the alarm company. The notice shall specify: [a.] The reason(s) for the suspension. [b.] The alarm user’s right to appeal the suspension under PHMC 9.20.150. [c.]  Whether enhanced verification status will be imposed to reinstate the police response. [d.]  user or alarm company has 30 calendar days to bring the system into compliance. Failure to comply within the time specified in the notice will result in the revocation of the alarm user’s permit. 
  3. Notice. When actually suspending police responses to an alarm site, the alarm administrator shall provide timely written notice of the action to the alarm user and alarm company.

B. Revocation 

  1. Grounds for revocation. The alarm administrator may revoke an alarm user permit for noncompliance to an order to correct or on any of the following grounds: [a.] Any false, misleading or fraudulent statement of a material fact is made in the application for an alarm user permit, or in any report or record submitted to the city; [b.] The alarm user has failed to make payment within 30 days of fee imposed under this chapter; or [c.] Any violation of PHMC 9.20.090. 
  2. Procedure. The notification and appeal procedures for revocation are the same as those for suspension, set forth in subsection A.2 of this section.

C. Consequences of suspension or revocation 

  1. An alarm user may not operate an alarm system during the period in which their alarm user permit is suspended or revoked. 
  2. An alarm company may not continue alarm dispatch requests to an alarm site after the alarm administrator notifies it that the permit has been suspended or revoked.

D.  Non-response status Other ground to refuse response. Unless there is separate indication of a crime in progress, the police department, independently of the alarm administrator, may refuse law enforcement response to an alarm dispatch request if: 

  1. The alarm permit is suspended or revoked; 
  2. Two or more false alarms have occurred at the alarm site during a consecutive 24-hour period; or 
  3. The alarm user or designated responder has failed or refused to respond to the alarm site at the request of the police department. 

(Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.140 Reinstatement of alarm permit and police response.

A. Reinstatement after suspension 

  1. An alarm user may reinstate police response after suspension (under PHMC 9.20.130.A) or non-response status (under PHMC  9.20.130.D) if ordered by the chief of police for good cause; or 
  2. All of the following occur:  [a.] All delinquent fees are paid; [b.] The alarm user receives alarm training by the department; [c.] The alarm system has been inspected by an alarm company that certifies in writing that the system is in good working order; [d.]. The alarm user and alarm company accept in writing the conditions of the two-call alarm verification program specified in subsection C of this section.

B. Reinstatement after revocation  The alarm administrator may reinstate the alarm user permit after a revocation when the alarm user does all of the following: 

  1. Submits a new application and pays a reinstatement fee equal to the initial permit fee; 
  2. Pays or otherwise resolves all outstanding fees; and 
  3. Submits a certification from an alarm company stating that the alarm system has been inspected and is in good working order.

C. Enhanced verification response 

  1. When required. Whenever an alarm permit has been suspended, the alarm administrator shall require as a condition of reinstatement that the alarm user and alarm company implement an enhanced verification response. 
  2. Enhanced verification response described. Enhanced verification means the alarm company makes two or more telephone calls, or uses other means, to verify the veracity of an alarm signal before requesting a police response. The purpose of enhanced verification is to reduce the number of false alarms. The alarm administrator shall prepare written procedures stating the minimum requirements for enhanced verification. The verification may include any of the following methods: [a.] Two or more calls by the alarm company. The first call is to the alarm site, and the second and more calls are to designated responders under PHMC 9.20.040.C. [b.] Confirmation that the alarm company has verified the request by a listening device, a camera, or a person at the alarm site.  [c.] Confirmation that the alarm company has verified the request by two or more independent detectors at the site, or two or more zones at the site. (3.) Alarm company requirements. To comply with this subsection, the alarm company responsible for monitoring services shall have written procedures to ensure efforts are made to verify every alarm signal (except duress, alarm) before requesting a police response. The alarm company shall provide a copy of its procedures to the alarm administrator.       

(Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.150 Appeals.

A. Right to appeal  A determination of the alarm administrator may be appealed to the chief of police, and a determination of the chief may be appealed to the city manager, following the procedures in this section. The appeals provisions of PHMC Chapter 1.10 do not apply, and a decision of the city manager is final. The action proposed by the alarm administrator shall not be implemented while an appeal is pending.

B. Requirements for filing appeal  An alarm user or alarm company wishing to appeal must file the appeal in writing within 10 days from the date of the notice (or action taken, if there is no notice). The appeal shall be in writing, filed with the police department, and shall state the reasons for the appeal, including any evidence available to the appellant. Before filing an appeal on any matter, all delinquent fees must be paid at or before the time of filing the appeal.

C. Failure to file appeal constitutes waiver  If the alarm user (or alarm company) fails to file an appeal within the prescribed time, the failure constitutes a waiver of the right to appeal, and the intended action shall take effect without further notice, action, or proceeding.

D. Hearing  The city shall notify the appellant of an appeal hearing date, which shall be within 15 business days after the appeal is filed. The chief of police (or city manager upon appeal from the chief’s decision) shall conduct an informal hearing on the appeal. The chief shall consider the evidence presented before or at the hearing, and shall make a decision based on the preponderance of evidence presented at the hearing. The chief (or city manager) will render a written decision within five business days after the date of the hearing, affirming, reversing or modifying the decision appealed from. (Ord. 827 1, 2007)

9.20.160 Violations.

In addition to the false alarm fee under PHMC 9.20.120.C, a person in violation of this chapter is subject to any other remedy for violation of the municipal code authorized in PHMC 1.25.010 (except that under PHMC 9.20.120.B, a false alarm will not be prosecuted as a criminal matter). (Ord. 827 1, 2007)


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