Cathedral City, CA 92235

Alarm Ordinance

Chapter 6.55 - ALARM SYSTEMS

Sections:

6.55.010 - Definitions.

"Alarm agent" means any person employed by an alarm business whose duties include the altering, installing, maintaining, moving, repairing, replacing, selling, servicing, responding to or causing others to respond to an alarm system in or on any building, structure or facility. Alarm agent excludes a police officer.

"Alarm business" means any business leasing, monitoring, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving or installing any alarm system, or causing it to be leased, maintained, serviced, repaired, altered, replaced, moved or installed in, over, under or on any building, structure or facility. "Alarm business" does not include a business manufacturing or selling an alarm system, unless such business services, installs, monitors, or responds to alarm systems at the protected premises. Every alarm business shall maintain a current and valid El Cerrito business license and a current and valid alarm company operator license as per California State Regulations and the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

"Alarm system" means any assembly of equipment and devices arranged to signal the presence of any condition upon commercial, industrial, or residential premises within the City of El Cerrito to which an emergency response by police would commonly occur. The term "alarm system" shall include any equipment which is designed to detect an emergency or which is designed to be activated by a person to report an emergency. Alarm system does not include: [1.] An alarm installed on a vehicle, unless the vehicle is permanently located at a site; nor [2.] An alarm which by design only alerts the occupants of a residence or business premises.

"Alarm user" means any person who owns, operates or manages or is entitled to possession of any premises in the City of El Cerrito on which an alarm system has been installed and operates.

"False alarm" means the activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, accident, misoperation, malfunction, misuse, improper activation, or negligence, which does not require police service other than deactivation of the alarm. False alarms shall not include alarms caused by acts of God or other causes which are beyond control of the alarm agent, alarm business, or alarm user. A false alarm shall be determined by the chief of police pursuant to Section 6.55.050.

"Site" means the commercial, industrial, or residential premises within the City of El Cerrito.

(Ord. No. 2010-03, Div. I, 4-5-2010)

6.55.020 - Notification of installation of an alarm system.

(a) As per Section 6.55.040 each time an alarm business sells and installs a new alarm or takes over an existing alarm system within the City of El Cerrito the alarm business shall complete and submit the initial alarm permit application, which shall be signed by both the alarm user and the alarm business pursuant to Section 6.55.040, along with the applicable registration fee, within seven business days of the completion of the installation. 

(b) If an alarm user self installs an alarm system it shall be the responsibility of the alarm user to complete the alarm permit application.

(c) Failure of the alarm business and or alarm user to comply with this section is a violation of Section 6.55.060(d).

(Ord. No. 2010-03, Div. I, 4-5-2010)

6.55.030 - Notification of change.

(a) In the event information provided pursuant to Section 6.55.040(b) changes, the alarm user shall notify the police department in writing within ten business days of the change.

(b) The failure to comply with this section will result in a fine of $15.00, which will be updated by council resolution and included within the city master fee schedule.

(Ord. No. 2010-03, Div. I, 4-5-2010)

6.55.040 - Alarm user permit required.

(a) Permit Required. No alarm user shall operate and use an alarm system without an alarm user permit issued in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(b) Application for Permit. Any person wishing to obtain an alarm user permit shall apply on a form provided by the chief of police. Said application shall be signed by both the alarm user and by the alarm business, be accompanied by the required application fee (set by resolution and included within the city master fee schedule—currently $26.00 for residential and commercial) and contain at a minimum the following information: [1.] Date of application; [2.] Name, address, and telephone number of the premises where the alarm system has been installed; [3.] Name, address, and telephone number of the alarm business which installed the alarm system including the name of the responsible managing officer and twenty-four-hour service phone number at the alarm business who is responsible for the installation, repair, and maintenance of the alarm system; [4.] A statement that service for the alarm systems which the alarm business installs, maintains, monitors, or operates will be available on a twenty-four hour, seven-day-a-week basis. [5.] A statement that the alarm user will comply with all laws of the State of California and the City of El Cerrito regarding the use of an Alarm System; [6.] A statement that the alarm business and all agents, representatives and employees will at all times comply with all laws of the State of California and of the City of El Cerrito regarding installation, monitoring or use of the alarm system. [7.] The identifying number and expiration date of a valid, unrevoked, and unexpired state alarm company operator license issued in accordance with the provisions of California Business and Professions Code Section 7500 et seq., and any subsequent amendments thereto. [8.] The type of alarm system installed. [9.] A statement that the applicant acknowledges and understands the provisions of El Cerrito Municipal Code Section 6.55.060 regarding false alarm fees. [10.] Any other information requested by the chief of police.

(c) Permit: Grounds for Denial. An application for an alarm user permit shall be processed in a timely manner. The permit may be denied by the chief of police on any one of the following grounds: [1.] The applicant fails to provide the information required by Section 6.55.040(b). [2.] The applicant, his or her employee or agent has knowingly made any false, misleading, or fraudulent statement of a material fact in the application for a permit. [3.] The alarm system violates the provisions of Section 6.55.070.

(d) Revocation of Permit. The chief of police may revoke an alarm user permit issued pursuant to this section if, after investigation, the chief of police determines that the applicant has: [1.] Made any false statement or given any false information in connection with an application for an alarm user permit; [2.] Violated any of the provisions of this chapter, including but not limited to, the permittee's failure to pay the false alarm fee imposed pursuant to Section 6.55.060; In the event the chief of police determines that it is necessary to revoke a permit, the chief of police shall send a notice of intent to revoke the permit to the permittee informing him that the permit shall be revoked fourteen business days following the date of such notice of intent. The notice shall include the reason for revocation and a statement of the right to appeal the decision of the chief of police to the city manager or his or her designee. The revocation shall be effective fourteen business days from and after the service of the notice to revoke. During that fourteen-day period, the permittee may appeal the decision of the chief of police to the city manager or his or her designee as provided in Section 6.55.040(e).

(e) Appeal to City Manager. Any person whose permit is revoked, may file an appeal with the city manager within fourteen calendar days from the date of the mailing of notice of revocation. The permit shall remain in effect while the appeal is being processed and heard by the city manager or his or her designee. The city manager, or his or her designee, shall make his or her decision on the basis of the preponderance of the credible evidence presented at the appeal hearing. The city manager, or his or her designee, shall render a decision within ten business days of the hearing and that decision shall affirm, reverse, or modify the action of the chief of police. Notice of this decision shall be sent to the permittee. The city manager's decision after such hearing shall be final and conclusive. If a permit is revoked under this section, the permittee may be issued a new permit if the reason for the revocation is removed, the chief of police is notified in writing of such removal, and the former permittee follows the procedure set forth herein for applying for the alarm user permit.

(f) Any alarm user who knowingly operates or causes a false alarm to occur after his or her alarm user permit has been revoked shall be subject to civil and or criminal penalties as determined by the City of El Cerrito.

(g) Permit: Existing Alarm Users. An alarm user with an installed alarm system on the effective date of this chapter shall apply for a permit as required by this chapter within three months of such effective date. Failure to comply with this section constitutes an infraction.

(Ord. No. 2010-03, Div. I, 4-5-2010)

6.55.045 - Biennial renewals.

It shall be the responsibility of the alarm user to renew their permits biennially. The city shall send out renewal notices sixty days prior to permit expiration. The fee for the renewal shall be $15.00, which will be updated by council resolution and included within the city master fee schedule. (Ord. No. 2010-03, Div. I, 4-5-2010)

6.55.050 - False alarm determination.

(a) If, within the sole discretion of the chief of police, an alarm is determined to be a false alarm, the alarm user shall be notified in writing, via the U.S. Postal Service within fourteen business days.

(b) In the event that the alarm user disagrees with the determination of the chief of police, the alarm user may, within fifteen calendar days after receipt of such determination, request a reconsideration of the determination that a false alarm occurred. The chief of police or designee shall hold a hearing within five business days from the date on which the appeal is filed to consider all relevant evidence produced by the person appealing, and any other interested person including employees of the police department. The written decision of the chief of police must be provided to the alarm user within five business days of the hearing and shall be final.

(Ord. No. 2010-03, Div. I, 4-5-2010)

6.55.060 - False alarm fee.

(a) If, within a twelve-month period at a single site, any alarm user causes more than one false alarm to be transmitted to the police department, either by direct telephone or other direct communication or by communication from an alarm agent or an alarm business, or by a person responding to an audible alarm, the alarm user, shall pay a false alarm fee to the city in the amount based on the following schedule, which will be updated by council resolution and included within the city master fee schedule:

Police Alarms1st False Alarm in 365 Day Period2nd-5th False Alarm in 365 Day Period6th or more False Alarms in 365 Day Period 
Permitted AlarmNo Charge$90.00$194.00 
Non-Permitted Alarm$125.00$125.00$125.00 

Prior to assessing the fee provided for by this section, the chief of police shall take into consideration factors out of the control of the alarm user which may have contributed to the number of false alarms sustained; for example, physical disability of the user; power outage; weather conditions; etc.

The maximum fee per day shall not exceed $500.00. These amounts will be included within the city master fee schedule and updated by council resolution however, there shall be no charge for a second false alarm in 2010 and no fine for an unpermitted alarm system in 2010. The chief of police shall mail a notice to both the alarm user and the alarm business providing the date, time, and location of the false alarm and the amount of the fee.

(b) In the event that an alarm user sustains five false alarms within a twelve-month period at a single site, the chief of police, in addition to imposing the false alarm penalty provided in this chapter, shall send a letter to both the alarm user and the alarm business, advising that the sixth and subsequent false alarms will have a penalty of $158.00. the maximum penalty per day shall not exceed $500.00.

(c) In the event that an alarm user sustains seven false alarms within a twelve-month period at a single site, the chief of police, in addition to imposing the false alarm penalty provided in this chapter, may determine to cause the police department to discontinue responding to alarms at said site.

(d) Any person operating an unpermitted alarm system will be subject to a fine of $100.00 for each false alarm in addition to any other fines. This fine will be updated by council resolution and included within the city master fee schedule. The alarm administrator may waive this additional fine for an unpermitted alarm system if the alarm user submits an application for an alarm user permit within ten business days of notification of such violation. This fee will be incorporated in the master fee schedule by resolution of the city council. No fine for an unpermitted alarm system shall be assessed in 2010.

(Ord. No. 2010-03, Div. I, 4-5-2010)

6.55.070 - Alarm systems: Prohibited systems. No alarm user shall permit the installation or use of and no alarm business shall install: 

(a) An alarm system with a direct dial to the police department of the City of El Cerrito; or 

(b) An alarm system, which contains components that are not UL (Underwriters' Laboratory) listed or the equivalent.

(Ord. No. 2010-03, Div. I, 4-5-2010)

6.55.080. - Additional duties of alarm business.

(a) The alarm business shall provide written and oral instructions to each of its alarm users in the proper use and operation of their alarm systems. Such instructions will specifically include all instructions necessary to turn the alarm system on and off and to avoid false alarms.

(b) Upon the effective date of the ordinance from which this chapter is derived, alarm businesses shall not program alarm systems so that they are capable of sending one plus duress alarms. The alarm installation company shall remove the oneplus duress alarm feature from alarm systems whenever an alarm technician is at the alarm site or otherwise accessing the panel for reprogramming purposes.

(c) Upon the effective date of the ordinance, alarm businesses shall not install a device to activate a holdup or panic alarm by way of a single action, non-recessed button.

(d) Upon enactment of the ordinance, the alarm businesses shall use only ANSI/SIA CP-01 (American Nation Standards Institute - Security Industry Association) listed alarm control panels on all new installations and panel replacements or upgrades.

(e) An alarm business shall not use automatic voice dialers.

(f) The alarm business shall not make an alarm dispatch request of a law enforcement agency in response to a burglar alarm signal, excluding panic, alarms, during the first seven calendar days following an alarm system installation. The chief of police may grant an alarm user's request for an exemption from this waiting period based upon a determination that special circumstances substantiate the need for the exemption.

(g) An alarm business shall: [1.] Report alarm signals by using telephone numbers designated by the chief of police; [2.] Verify every alarm signal, completing at least two calls to two different phone numbers except a holdup or panic alarm activation, before initiating an alarm dispatch request. [3.] Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the municipality in a manner and form determined by the chief of police; [4.] Communicate alarm cancellations to the municipality in a manner and form determined by the chief of police; [5.] Communicate any available information (left side, right side, front, back, floor, etc.) about the location on all alarm signals related to the alarm dispatch request; [6.] Communicate nature of alarm (e.g.: burglary, robbery, panic, duress, silent, audible, interior or perimeter); [7.] If required, provide an alarm user registration number when requesting law enforcement dispatch; After an alarm dispatch request, promptly advise the law enforcement agency if the alarm business knows that the alarm user or other responder is on the way to the alarm site; [9.] Attempt to contact the alarm user or other responder within twenty-four hours via mail, fax, telephone or other electronic means when an alarm dispatch request is made; and [10.] Upon the effective date of the ordinance, alarm businesses must maintain for a period of at least one year from the date of the alarm dispatch request, records relating to alarm dispatch requests. Records must include the name, address and telephone number of the alarm user, the alarm system zone(s) activated, the time of alarm dispatch request and evidence of an attempt to verify that the alarm was legitimate. The chief of police may request copies of such records for individually named alarm users. If the request is made within sixty calendar days of an alarm dispatch request, the alarm business shall furnish requested records within three business days of receiving the request. If the records are requested between sixty calendar days to one year after an alarm dispatch request, the alarm business shall furnish the requested records within thirty calendar days of receiving the request.

(h) An alarm business that purchases alarm system accounts from another person shall notify the chief of police of such purchase and provide details as may be reasonably requested by the chief of police.

(i) Each alarm business must designate one individual as the alarm response manager (ARM) for the company who will manage alarm related issues and act as the point of contact for the chief of police. The appointed individual must be knowledgeable of the general provisions of the ordinance, as well as have the knowledge and authority to deal with false alarm issues and respond to requests from the chief of police. The name, phone number, and email address of the designated ARM must be provided to the chief of police.

(j) An alarm business shall provide the chief of police with a customer list in a format acceptable to the chief of police, upon request, to assist the police department with creating the law enforcement's tracking data. California Government Code 6254 protects this customer information as confidential and exempt from public release.