Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the City Attorney and the District Attorney?
The City Attorney is the attorney for the City of Santa Ana, and is appointed by the City Council. The attorneys in the Office provide legal services to the Mayor, City Council, Redevelopment Agency and the various agencies, boards, commissions and offices of the City of Santa Ana. The Office also prosecutes violations of the Santa Ana Municipal Code, but not any violations of State law. The District Attorney is an elected official who investigates and prosecutes criminal activity (other than violations of the Santa Ana Municipal Code) throughout Orange County.

Who does the City Attorney work for?
The City Attorney, along with the City Manager and the Clerk of the Council, is directly selected by, and serves at the pleasure of, the City Council. The City of Santa Ana, represented by the City Council, is the City Attorney's "client."

Can the City Attorney represent private citizens?
No. The City Attorney does not represent individuals in private legal matters. Attorneys in the office only represent City departments and agencies in the course of their official business.

How can I get a copy of the Municipal Code or a City ordinance?
The City's municipal code is online via its publisher at www.municode.com. Hard copies of codes or a particular ordinance may be obtained from the Office the Clerk of the Council at (714) 647-6520.

Who do I call to report a potential Municipal Code violation?
All violations of local laws must be made to an investigative agency such as the Santa Ana Police Department or the Community Preservation Division of the Santa Ana Planning and Building Agency. Do NOT report violations to the City Attorney.

My neighbor's tree limbs and branches overhang my property. Can I trim them without my neighbor's permission? If my neighbor's tree limbs and branches fall on my property, can I make my neighbor clean them up?
This is a private civil matter. To obtain specific legal advice on your situation, you need to consult a private attorney.

I drove my car through a pothole in the street and sustained damage to my car. I feel the City was negligent. Will the City pay for this?
If you feel the City was negligent and you wish to pursue the matter, you must file a notice of claim against the City of Santa Ana. Please contact the Clerk of the Council at (714) 647-6520 to obtain the appropriate written information.

Someone made a complaint about a code violation on my property and I want to find out who made that complaint. Do I have a right to that information under the Public Records Act?
No. The City takes the position that such information is exempt from the disclosure requirements of the Public Records Act. Therefore, the City will not release such information without a valid court order directing it to do so. Such information could be used to harass citizens who complain about code violations in their neighborhoods.

I need to do legal research on a private matter. Can I use the law books in the Office of the City Attorney office for that research?
No. The legal research materials in the Office of the City Attorney are for the use of the City Attorney and his staff only. However, legal research materials are available and open to the public at the Orange County Law Library, located at 515 North Flower Street in the Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, California.