In recent years, community refrigerators have been on the rise as a way for people in Sacramento to offer assistance to those in need.
With shared refrigerators popping up in local neighborhoods, the City’s Code Enforcement team has been receiving questions about them.
While the City of Sacramento does not have a specific ordinance governing the operation or permitting of community refrigerators, the City can provide some guidance, said Peter Lemos, the City’s code and housing enforcement chief.
For instance, a stand-alone refrigeration unit in a front yard is not allowed per City ordinance and would be considered debris and a public nuisance, he said. Appliances not made for outdoor use are not to be stored outside in part because of safety issues.
“The City must respond to safety issues, zoning, building and design requirements and balance the needs of all members of our neighborhoods,” Lemos said.
City Code Enforcement staff have responded to a few complaints about community refrigerators that were sponsored by the Sac Fridge for All program. Code provided these recommendations and requirements to both the organization and operators:
- Locate on private property with permission of the property owner.
- Provide a safe and sanitary structure to house the refrigerator and protect it from the elements.
- Provide an enclosed cabinet for pantry items to not attract rodents, wildlife or pests.
- Be aware of zoning and setback requirements for accessory structures. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are unsure.
- Provide an approved and permitted source of electrical connection. No extension cords.
- Provide daily monitoring and cleaning of the property and surrounding area.
- Provide signage to identify the program and immediate contact information for a responsible party.
It’s worth noting that community refrigerators on private property are the responsibility of the property owner. If people have further questions about community refirgerators, “my staff and I are happy to discuss options with the homeowners, businesses and organizations,” Lemos said.