Every city has a city code or municipal code and city ordinances which its residents are expected to obey in order to keep the city a pleasant place to live for everyone. Each of the cities in the greater Phoenix area has their own municipal code, and there may be variations among them. There are, however, commonalities.
Typically, you would contact local law enforcement if you believe that someone has violated a city code or ordinance.
Since these are rarely emergencies, don't call 9-1-1. In the case of problems with a neighbor, it is best to try and work out issues informally without involving the police or lawsuits, but if the violations make it difficult, unhealthy or a hazard to you to live nearby, reporting the problem might be your last defense.
Most city codes have similar prohibitions, and there are penalties for violating those codes. For instance, in the City of Phoenix a person guilty of violating a city code is usually guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor in Phoenix is punishable by a fine that could be as much as $2,500, or imprisonment for a maximum of six months, or probation for up to 3 years, or any combination of those. That's serious!
Here are some examples of items that are typically covered by city codes in our area:
- Barking or howling dogs
- Animal cruelty
- Certain businesses are usually required to obtain a permit: massages, swap meets, making movies, escorts and escort services, sexually oriented businesses, pawn brokers, mobile vending (selling out of a vehicle)
- Parking of trucks, mobile homes or campers on city streets or in driveways
- Curfew violations by minors
- Creating a nuisance or excessive noise
- Public urination or defecation
- Smoking in a public place
- Dumping of trash on any property but your own (and sometimes even on your own property)
- Prostitution (both sellers and buyers)
- Child molestation
- Public sexual activity
- Obscene live public performance
- Use of vulgar language or singing obscene song lyrics
- Obscene literature distribution
- Running a gambling operation
- Defacing or destruction of property
- Glass/Beer in public parks
- Mutilating or stealing a library book
- Running or emptying water into the street or sidewalk
- Printing numbers on a curb without a license
- Soliciting money from vehicle occupants
- Selling merchandise/services on a city street
- Posting or scattering of signs on city street, poles, or buildings
Some ordinances even cover violations on your own property. Just because you live there, it doesn't mean that you can do anything you please. There are city codes relative to overgrown weeds, dead shrubs, bushes and trees, dead fronds on palm trees, fences that are broken or missing blocks, and repairing of vehicles or equipment visible from public areas for extended periods of time, just to name a few.
This is by no means a full listing of all the city codes. You can find the city code for the city in which you live by going to your city's web site. Here are the links for the ten largest cities in Maricopa County: