San Carlos, CA

San Carlos Did You Know?

A collection of Frequently Asked Questions from around the City of Good Living!

Listed below is a summary of topics that have come up in the community from time to time and we’ve dedicated this page to addressing questions and discussing any top-of-mind issues.

Why doesn’t the City address the community’s posts on Nextdoor?
The City of San Carlos is considered a “Public Agency” on Nextdoor.  With a Nextdoor for Public Agencies account, Public Agency staff are able to post messages to Nextdoor neighborhoods, view responses, and receive direct messages from neighbors. Public Agency staff are not able to view content posted by neighbors on Nextdoor neighborhood sites.

A couple of reminders:

  • Our San Carlos reporting app, Inform, is available for mobile download and webpage access here:
  • If you want to share something with the City Council, you can e-mail all five members of the San Carlos City Council at
  • View our City Directory for the different ways you can contact the City and specific departments, and view City Hall hours.
What happens when there are power outages in San Carlos and who do you contact for help?

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) provides San Carlos, and much of northern and central California, with electricity and natural gas. PG&E is a private company regulated solely by the California Public Utilities Commission. As California continues to experience more intense weather, power outages can happen more often. As such, PG&E can implement preventative Power Safety Shut Offs (PSPS).

During an outage, the City receives updates from PG&E at the same time the information is made public and we continue to monitor possible PG&E resources (i.e. a Community Resource Center opening) throughout any loss of power.

During a power outage we encourage affected community members to:

  • Contact the PG&E outage information line at 1-800-743-5002 to get updates on any outages in your neighborhood.  
  • Monitor and report power outages on the PG&E Electric Outage Map
  • PG&E customers can access their account on and sign up to receive any outage alerts. 
  • Prepare for a possible power outage by locating flashlights and charging all devices.
  • Treat any intersections without power as a four way stop. 
  • To report downed power lines or if you smell gas, call 911 first and then call PG&E at (800) 743-5000.

Who’s responsible for the safety and maintenance of sidewalks?

The State of California Streets and Highways Code Chapter 22 and San Carlos Municipal Code Chapter 12.04 place the responsibility for maintenance of the sidewalk area on the property owner. The responsibility and liability for sidewalks fronting private properties has rested on the adjacent private property owner for over 50 years in San Carlos and is common for cities throughout the peninsula, including San Francisco. However, to assist property owners with the financial burden of sidewalk repair, we implemented a Sidewalk Repair Program in which we pay 50 percent of the cost of repair. Please review the policy on how this cost-sharing program works.

If you are a property owner, read more about our Sidewalk Maintenance Program here.

Questions? Contact San Carlos Public Works at

What are the penalties for selling flavored tobacco products? What are the penalties for selling tobacco products to minors?

Penalties for Selling Flavored Tobacco Products
According to San Carlos Municipal Code 8.02, “The sale or offer for sale, by any person or tobacco retailer, of any flavored tobacco product is prohibited and no person or tobacco retailer shall sell, or offer for sale, any flavored tobacco product.

The penalty for retailers, their agents or their employees is an infraction and a $250 fine for violation of this law. Violations should be reported to the San Carlos Police Bureau at (650) 802 - 4277. The flavored tobacco products ban prohibits the retail sale of flavored tobacco products in California.

Tobacco Retailer Permits and Selling Tobacco to Minors

On September 11, 2023, the City of San Carlos adopted an ordinance to amend San Carlos Municipal Code Chapter 8.07, adopting San Mateo County’s Code related to Tobacco Retailer Permits (Chapter 4.98 of the County Ordinance Code). The amendments:

  1. Added definitions to incorporate best practices across the state;
  2. Strengthened ordinance language to reduce youth access to tobacco products;
  3. Promoted efficient administration and enforcement by ensuring the San Carlos Municipal Code is consistent with the San Mateo County Code of Ordinances.

The updated ordinance also:

  1. Increases fines up to $500 for a first violation, and up to $1,000 for all subsequent violations within a 60-month period;
  2. Prohibits issuing new Tobacco Retailer Permits to any location within 1,000 feet of a “youth populated area” (school, playgrounds, for instance) or within 500 feet of an existing tobacco retailer;
  3. Mandates a fine for any ordinance violations;
  4. Increases the number of required on-site inspections by the County Environmental Health Services to two per year. The addition of two inspections per year for all tobacco retailers increases the annual permit fee from $174 to $672.

Violations of this ordinance should be reported to San Mateo County Environmental Health Services’ via their File a Complaint page.

Can I bring my dog into restaurants in San Carlos?

Which laws regulate dogs in eating establishments and cafes?

  1. Section 114259.4 “Animal handling prohibition” of the California Retail Food Code prohibits dogs inside food facilities unless they are patrol dogs or service animals.
  2. Section 6.04.520(A) “Dogs in outdoor dining areas” of the San Carlos Municipal Code permits pet dogs in outdoor dining or patio areas if certain conditions are met.
  •  Who can violations be reported to?

Members of the public can submit a complaint to the County of San Mateo via the County website by clicking this link, or by calling (650) 599-1112.

Is there a fine for violators?

If a complaint is “verified,” by the County inspector, the establishment will be issued a fine of $198.  When describing activity observed indicate whether the dog was inside or outside, was it being held by a patron or safe, how many feet was it from tables with dishes, utensils, water, etc.

A reminder that unfortunately our furry friends are not allowed at the San Carlos Farmers’ Market!

What about sales tax? How much goes to the City?

The City’s sales tax rate is 9.25%, out of which 1% goes back to the City. For example, if you make a purchase in the amount of $100, even though you pay sales tax of $9.25, only $1 goes to the City. The rest of the sales tax goes to various entities. Please see the graphic below for a breakdown of where your sales tax dollars go:


I want to remove a tree in my yard – what’s the process?
A reminder that A Tree Removal Permit is required before removing or pruning a protected tree within the City of San Carlos.

Please see our newly updated Tree webpage for the most updated information about applying for a Tree Removal Permit, fees, view frequently asked questions, and more.

Visit for more!