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Important City Ordinances

Unrelated Persons Occupancy Restrictions

Homes in certain zoning districts of the City of San Marcos are designated for “single family use. A family is defined in the Land Development Code as any number of individuals living as a single housekeeping unit who are related by blood, legal adoption, marriage, or conservatorship.

This means that in a single-family zoning district, the number of unrelated people who may occupy a home is limited. Below is the section of the Land Development Code that addresses single-family dwellings.


(a) Limited Number of Unrelated Individuals. All dwelling units located in SF-R, SF-11, SF-6 (R-1), SF-4.5, DR, TH, PH-ZL zoning districts shall be restricted to occupancy by a family, and up to one other person who is not related to any of the family members by blood, legal adoption, marriage, or conservatorship.

(b) Prima facie proof of occupancy of a dwelling unit by more than two unrelated persons is established in any prosecution for violation of this section if it is shown that the same three or more vehicles with registrations to persons having different surnames and addresses were parked overnight at the dwelling unit a majority of nights in any 21 day period. This establishment of a prima facie level of proof in this subsection does not preclude a showing of “occupancy” of a dwelling unit by a person in any other manner.

(c) The property owner and any agent of the property owner shall be legally responsible for directly or indirectly allowing, permitting, causing, or failing to prohibit the occupancy of a dwelling unit by more than two unrelated persons.

The City of San Marcos Planning and Development Services Department enforces the unrelated persons restriction. When a complaint is received, city staff contacts the property owner to explain the restriction and determine whether a violation exists. If there are more than two unrelated people residing there, staff will ask for voluntary compliance. In cases where compliance is not achieved in a reasonable amount of time, municipal court citations may be issued. Fines for these citations are up to $900 for the first offense, and each day may be considered a separate offense. 

If you have any questions about these or other zoning requirements, please contact the Planning Department at 512-393-8230. You may ask for the zoning designation on a particular property, and staff will explain whether or not the unrelated persons restriction applies.


San Marcos City Ordinance regarding BBQ Grills

308.2.2 Outdoor cooking.

It is unlawful to use or to store a charcoal burner, open flame, LP gas burner, outdoor grill, barbeque, or other outdoor cooking appliance with open flames on the premises of a residential building with three or more dwelling units or of a multi-family residential building with two or more stories.

The provision does not apply to the use of permanently mounted outdoor cooking devices located ten or more feet from any structure.



(a) It is unlawful for any person operating or controlling a motor vehicle to operate any radio, stereo receiver, compact disc player, cassette tape player, or other similar device in the motor vehicle in such a manner that, when operated, it is;

  1. Audible in a public place or on private property other than that owned or occupied by the person at a distance of 30 feet or more from the vehicle, or
  2. Causes vibration that can be felt at a distance of 30 feet or more from the vehicle


It is unlawful for a person who owns, occupies, or acts as a property manager for a residence to allow the residence to become or to remain a nuisance due to excessive noise.


  1. If you can hear noise while standing on your property line - IT IS TOO LOUD
  2. Exchange phone numbers with your neighbors


Responsibilities of Hosts SEC. 34.702

It is unlawful for a host to fail:

(1) To advise his guests that streets and driveways cannot be blocked by vehicles of persons attending the host's party

(2) To ensure that noise from the hosts party does not reach an unlawful level

(3) To ensure that litter related to the host's party is properly disposed of by 10 a.m. of the day after the party started or

(4) To ensure that any alcoholic beverages provided or served at the host's party are controlled in a manner that ensures the alcoholic beverage laws are not violated  

1. Advise your neighbor of the gathering/party
2. Keep guest list short
3. Give your neighbors your phone number
4. Remember that your neighbors may not be on YOUR SLEEP SCHEDULE.


Placement of Bags and Containers For Collection SEC. 66.031

Bags and containers shall placed for collection between 9:00 p.m. the night preceding collection day and 7:00 a.m. of collection day and shall be placed as close to the roadway as practicable without interfering with vehicles or pedestrians.

Bulky waste, construction debris and yard waste shall be placed for collection only after the city has been notified of the need for special collection. Yard waste must be securely tied together in bundles not exceeding four feet in length or 50 pounds in weight.

Emptied containers shall be removed to a location at the side or rear of a building on the premises by 9:00 p.m. of collection day.

1. Plan your clean-up for the weekend before bulk collection in your area
2. Bulk collection is the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month, first trash collection day of that week
3. Call 393-8026 to schedule pick up


Maximum number of dogs and cats allowed SEC. 6.086

(a) Each residence shall have no more than five (5) dogs or eight (8) cats or a combination of dogs and cats that exceeds a total of eight (8).

Pens and Cages SEC. 6.115

(a) The pen where any livestock is confined shall be kept in a clean and sanitary manner at all times.

(b) All fowl shall be confined in suitable sanitary pens or cages. The total number of fowl is limited to EIGHT (8).

(c) Fowl shall be kept in an enclosure that is located at least 30 feet from any residential dwelling, other than that of the owner.

Licensed Required SEC. 6.056

(a) The owner of any dog, cat or miniature swine over four months of age and residing within the city shall obtain a license annually for the animal.

(b) No dog or cat shall be licensed unless it has a current rabies vaccination as prescribed by section 6.167.

(c) No miniature swine shall be licensed unless it has a current erysipelas vaccination and a current veterinarian's statement verifying the animal's size.

Vaccination of Dogs and Cats SEC. 6.167

(a) Every owner of a dog or cat shall have the animal vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian by the time the animal is four months of age and at regular intervals not less than one(1) to three(3) years thereafter.

(b) A veterinarian who vaccinates a dog or cat against rabies shall issue to the owner of the animal a dated vaccination certificate describing the animal vaccinated and a rabies vaccination tag.

(c) The owner of the vaccinated animal shall keep the rabies vaccination tag securely fastened around the neck of the animal at all times by means of a collar or harness.

Restraint - Public Nuisance Animals SEC. 6.081

(a) Every owner or handler of a dog or miniature swine shall keep such animal under restraint at all times.

(b) Owners and handlers must maintain restraint of an animal in a humane manner in accordance with the following:

  1. The collar does not restrict the animal's breathing or cut into its skin.
  2. If the animal is restrained by a leash, rope, cord, or wire, it is fastened so that the animal does not become entangled or injured.
  3. Fences are free of protruding wire, nails, screws or other objects which could injure the animal.
  4. The mesh of any fence is small enough so that the animal cannot become stuck in it.
  5. Animals that are restrained by a fence, leash, rope, cord, or wire are able to reach their food, water, and shelter at all times.

(c) Fences must be constructed or equipped to prevent the animal from climbing over or digging under them.

(d) Every owner or handler of an animal shall exercise control over the animal to prevent it from becoming a public nuisance.

(e) Every owner or handler of a dog or cat in heat shall confine the animal in a building or secure enclosure that prevents any contact between the animal and any other animal, except for planned breeding.

(f) No owner or handler of a dog or cat may leave the animal attached to a stationary object in a public place.

(g) No electric fences permitted inside the city limits.