California Civil Code § 3480 defines a public nuisance as an activity on private property that annoys or endangers a considerable number of other people in the community. Failing to remove a public nuisance after receiving written notice is a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
3480. A public nuisance is one which affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal.
California Civil Code 3480 CC defines “public nuisance” as a problem that has a community-wide impact. Examples of public nuisances are:
- having a dog that constantly barks, keeping the neighborhood awake;
- not raking dried leaves in the front yard, creating a fire hazard on the street;
- letting trash accumulate outside, causing an eyesore and foul smell in the neighborhood1
It is a misdemeanor in California to allow a public nuisance to exist on one’s property after receiving a written notice by a health officer or city attorney to remove it. The penalties include up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.2
Potential defenses to public nuisance charges are that:
- The nuisance was a one-time event, and the person responsible got rid of it;
- The nuisance affected only a few people; or
- The property owner/lessor never received notice to remove the nuisance.3
- California Civil Code 3480 CC – Public nuisance. See City and County of San Francisco v. Uber Technologies, Inc. (Cal. App. 1st Dist. May 17, 2019), 248 Cal. Rptr. 3d 273, 36 Cal. App. 5th 66. See Backus v. General Mills (N.D. Cal. Aug. 18, 2015), 122 F. Supp. 3d 909.
- Penal Code 373a PC.
- See same.