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Alarm Ordinance: Frequently Asked Questions

Permits

Do I need a permit to operate a monitored alarm system in the City of Los Angeles?

Yes. You are required by law to obtain an alarm permit. See below for the cost.

How much is the fee for an alarm permit?

The cost for an alarm permit is $37 and are renewable yearly. The cost to renew your alarm permit is $30 each year.

How do I register my alarm system?

You can register your alarm system with the Office of Finance. The Office of Finance provides on-line payments, or you can visit them at one of their branch locations.

Is there a penalty for failure to obtain an alarm permit?

Operating an alarm system without a valid permit is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or a year in county jail or both. Violators that are ordered to appear in court may be required to pay additional fines and penalty assessments as a result of the criminal case being filed in the County of Los Angeles Superior Court.

Is there a penalty for renewing my alarm permit after the December 31st deadline?

Yes. Under the revised Alarm Ordinance, a late penalty of $15 will be imposed for renewing your alarm permit from January 1 to March 31st. Alarm permits renewed after March 31st will be assessed a late penalty of $30, in addition to the renewal fee.

Are there any alarm permit fee waivers?

Yes. Alarm permits are free of charge for the following only:

  • Alarm systems at premises owned and operated by municipal, county, state, federal authorities or agencies, or as embassy or consular office or residence.
  • Alarm systems at residential premises that are not monitored by an alarm company or any monitoring device.

What do I need to do when I change alarm companies?

  1. Provide your new alarm company with your alarm permit number;
  2. Submit an updated call list to the new alarm company;
  3. Confirm in writing any special arrangements with the new alarm company;
  4. Clarify the new alarm company’s verification procedures.
  5. Obtain the new alarm company’s 24-hour monitoring center to ensure that you could check the status of your alarm system at anytime.

Who do I contact to change my address and phone number?

Contact the Office of Finance, Alarm Unit at 213-744-9725 to report a change in legal name and/or address. Please note that a legal name and/or address change requires a $35 fee. There is no fee to report a change in phone number, mailing address, and/or alarm company name.

How will the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) respond to my alarm if I don’t have an alarm permit?

The alarm call will be handled in the same manner whether you are permitted or un-permitted. Please see the Burglar Alarm Dispatch Policy for more details. However, false alarms at un-permitted locations will be subject to a $100 penalty after the first occurrence, and escalate in $100 increments thereafter.

How do I cancel my alarm permit?

Send a written cancellation request to the Office of Finance, Alarm Unit, P.O. Box 53235, Los Angeles, CA 90053.

False Alarms

What is a false alarm?

The Alarm Ordinance defines it as the activation of an alarm system resulting in a response by the LAPD where an emergency of the kind for which the Alarm System was designed to give notice does not exist.

How many "free" false alarms does the ordinance allow? {As of November 8, 2004}

Under the revised Alarm Ordinance, the City of Los Angeles will no longer provide "free" false alarms.

What is the current false alarm fee schedule as of December 2, 2011?

For permitted alarm users, the first false alarm will result in a $162 fee, and escalate in $50 increments for subsequent false alarm occurrences.

A false alarm for those without permits will result in a $262 fee, and escalate in $100 increments with each additional false alarm occurrence.

Fees may be adjusted yearly.

Does the City offer Alarm school?

Yes, the City offers an Online Alarm School program, as well as a Home-Study Alarm School program for permitted alarm system users only.  By completing either program, you may have one false alarm fee waived per 365 days.
For Online Alarm School:
For Online Alarm School, it is important to note that you will need your
registration and invoice number, and your invoice must not be older than 75 days.
For Home-Study Alarm School:

Request that the Home-Study Alarm School package be mailed to you by calling
the Alarm Section at 213-996-1200 between the hours of 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, except holidays.

How can I appeal a false alarm fee and/or penalty?

You may appeal in writing to the Board of Police Commissioners. Mail your request and documentation to: Board of Police Commissioners, Attention: Alarm Section, 100 West 1st Street, Suite #147, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

A service charge shall be waived or reversed when the Board or its designee has determined that activation of the alarm system was caused by:

  1. Criminal activity as evidenced by an Investigative Report (IR) filed within 30 days of the alarm date, or other verifiable evidence of a crime occurring on the alarm date which is deemed acceptable by the Board; or
  2. Acts of nature such as earthquake, flood, gale force wind, fire and verifiable power or telephone line failure.

Examples of alarms that are not grounds for a waiver are faulty equipment, disputes with the alarm company, operator error, rodent and animal activation, and prevailing wind conditions.

Other Questions

I was contacted by a collections agency concerning past due false alarm fees. Why?

If you have failed to pay your false alarm fees after several notifications, the City will forward the past due billing to a collection agency. Contact the LAPD Alarm Section (Phone Number: 213-996-1279, FAX Number: 213-922-9648), to ensure that your fees are paid timely and in full.

How do I file a complaint about my burglar alarm service?

Complaints may be filed with the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs. To obtain a complaint form or file your complaint online, log on to www.dca.ca.gov or call 800-952-5210 to have a complaint form mailed to you.

You may also file a civil claim against your alarm company by contacting the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Small Claims Advisor at 213-974-9759 or go to www.lasuperiorcourt.org/smallclaims.

Where does the false alarm revenue go?

Monies collected from permit and false alarm fees are deposited to the City’s general fund. The general fund finances the operation of parks, zoos, libraries, animal shelters, police and fire services, among other services.

Does the Alarm Ordinance require the Police Officer to leave a "Notice of False Alarm"  when they respond to a false alarm?

No. The Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) does not require them to do so. These notifications serve only as a courtesy.

Is my alarm system connected to the Los Angeles Police Department?

No. Your alarm system is connected to your alarm monitoring company who in turn calls the LAPD when your alarm system is activated.

My alarm company dispatched the LAPD in error. Why was the false alarm bill sent to me, not to my alarm company?

You were provided with the special service by the LAPD, in response to your alarm company's request for police response. If you did not authorize the dispatch, contact your alarm company and request that they reimburse you for their mistake.

We don’t know why the alarm system went off. What are we supposed to do?

The alarm system always goes off for a reason. Find out what sensor activated and what caused it to activate. Take steps to ensure that it does not happen again. Call your alarm company for assistance.

My out of town relatives activated my alarm system. Could the charge be waived?

No. This is considered user error. Those who have legal access to your location must know how to operate your alarm system.

Why can’t we file a complaint against the alarm company with the City of Los Angeles?

The City of Los Angeles does not regulate alarm companies. It is the State of California, Department of Consumer Affairs, that has control over the performance of alarm companies, alarm agents, and private patrol companies relating to the installation, repair and monitoring of burglar alarm systems.

There was a power outage on the alarm date. What do I need to do to have the charge waived or deleted?

Request the Department of Water and Power (DWP) to verify the power outage. Send the request to DWP, P.O.Box 515407, Room 657, Los Angeles, CA 90051, ATTENTION: Andrew Chatton/Lynda Hill. Upon receipt of the DWP verification, mail the bill and the verification to the Board of Police Commissioners, Alarm Section, 100 West First Street, Suite 147, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

There was a telephone outage on the alarm date. What do I need to do to have the charge waived or deleted?

Call the telephone number showing on your telephone bill to request written verification of telephone line failure. Upon receipt of the verification, mail the bill and the verification to the Board of Police Commissioners, Alarm Section,100 West First Street, Suite 147, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

I live in a hilly area and my alarm always goes off when it is windy. Will the Board of Police Commissioners waive or delete the charges due to false alarms resulting from prevailing wind conditions?

No, Under the Los Angeles Police Commission Rules Governing Alarm Systems, wind must be in excess of 70 mph to warrant a waiver or removal of the false alarm service charges.

I pay my taxes. Why do I need to pay for police response to a false alarm?

Responses to false alarms are a special service rendered by the LAPD. It is a service not used by the general population.

There’s an alarm system that keeps going off in my neighborhood. Who do I call to report this?

Contact the LAPD, Alarm Section, at 213-996-1200. Provide the Alarm Section staff with the exact address of the alarm location, the business name or residence owner, alarm company name, and telephone number.

I was burglarized on the alarm date. What should I do to delete the date from my false alarm history?

Contact the local police station to file a investigative report. Mail the Investigative Report (IR) to the Board of Police Commissioners, Alarm Section, 100 West First Street, Room 147, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

I instructed my alarm company to contact me first before dispatching the LAPD. Why did the LAPD officers respond to the alarm activation?

LAPD officers responded to the alarm activation because your alarm company dispatched the LAPD. Contact your alarm company for clarification.

How does the City calculate the false alarm fees?

The false alarm fee is based on the actual cost incurred by the City to have LAPD officers respond to the alarm call. The costs include equipment, salary, and other administrative costs incurred by the City.

Will I receive police response after two false alarms within a 365-day period?

After two false alarms within a 365-day period your location will be put on a “broadcast and file” status. This means that LAPD would require verification of an unauthorized entry or attempted unauthorized entry upon the premises, building, or structure protected by the burglar alarm system. Please refer to the Burglar Alarm Dispatch Policy for the acceptable methods of verification.

If verification is requested and it is unavailable, the LAPD will broadcast the alarm call for any available unit to respond. If there is an available police unit, you will receive police service. If there is no available police unit, the alarm call will be filed with no police response.

Is verification required for a robbery alarm call?

No. Verification is not required for a robbery alarm call. A robbery alarm call includes duress, panic, hold-up, and robbery-in-progress alarms.

Why can’t my alarm company cancel a robbery alarm call?

Due to the nature and urgency of a robbery alarm call, it is mandatory for the LAPD to respond to this type of call. It is extremely important that the panic alarm button is activated only when necessary.

I had a false alarm during the first seven days following a new alarm system installation (also called a seven-day soak period). Does that qualify for a waiver of the false alarm fee(s)?

No. A waiver of the false alarm fee(s) cannot be granted during the seven-day soak period. LAMC Section 103.206(I)(8) states: No alarm company shall within seven days following a new alarm system installation, cause a request for service to be placed with the LAPD prior to verification. It is suggested that you recover the cost of police response from your alarm company.