City Ordinances

The following information summarizes certain portions of the City Code of Salem that are designed to preserve and protect the quality of life of residents. However, this summary is not a legal interpretation of the code. Its sole purpose is to help inform neighborhood residents about some of the laws and ordinances that protect the rights and privileges of all residents of Salem. A complete listing of ordinances may be found in The Code of the City of Salem, which is contained in the Salem Public Library or by contacting the Office of Campus Safety at 375-2310.

Alcohol/Intoxication: The legal drinking age in Virginia is 21. It is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to, or purchase alcohol for, anyone under the age of 21. It is also illegal to sell alcohol without a permit or to charge admission to a party where alcohol is being given away. Being intoxicated in public is against the law and can result in an individual being arrested and taken to jail. Consumption of alcoholic beverages in city parks is prohibited. If you are going to have a party at your apartment or house at which alcohol is served, you are responsible for the actions and safety of your guests.

Discharge of Firearms: It is unlawful for any person to fire or discharge any gun, pistol, or firearm within the city. Air rifles or pellet guns cannot be discharged within 100 yards of any residence or public street. See City Code Sections 58-141, 58-142.

Littering: Being respectful about littering is an important element of good community living. Please remember that it is unlawful for any person to throw or deposit upon any street or sidewalk, or upon any private property not owned by that person, any type of litter. Additionally all persons
shall keep their premises, whether owned, leased, occupied or in their charge, clear of trash, garbage, refuse, litter and other substances which might endanger the health or safety of other residents of the city. If you have any questions about how to dispose of your garbage, call the City's Sanitation Department at 375-3071. See City Code Sections 70-2, 30-4.

Noise: Salem has a noise ordinance that prohibits harsh, loud, boisterous or unnecessary noise that is annoying or disturbing to other citizens. Stereos, radios and other such items cannot be played at such a volume that they can be heard 50 feet or more from a vehicle or building. If a social event or party will involve amplified music or noise, a permit for amplified music must be obtained from the Office of the Chief of Police located at 33 Calhoun Street. The police can issue citations for violations of the noise ordinance. See City Code Sections 30-1, 30-2, 30-3.

Number of Occupants: The City of Salem zoning ordinances restrict the number of unrelated individuals who can constitute a "housekeeping" unit, i.e., who can live in the same house, to four persons. To exceed this number, certain building and zoning criteria must be met and a special zoning permit must be issued by the City. If you plan to rent a house and more than four unrelated persons will be living there, you should contact your landlord to ensure that the house is in compliance and the proper permit has been issued. See City Code Section 106-492.

Pets and Animals: Salem has ordinances that govern the ownership and proper care and maintenance of animals. Dogs are not permitted to run at large. No person shall keep or permit another to keep, in any one separate location at any one time, a total of more than three dogs and more than a total of three cats. Outdoor pens or premises must be kept clean and free from offensive odors so as not to disturb any citizen of the city in the reasonable use and enjoyment of their property or cause physical discomfort. All dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies, and dogs must be licensed. The license cost for male and female dogs is $10 and unsexed dogs is $3. See City Code Sections 14. It is wise to consider the responsibilities involved in having a pet. Please be aware and plan appropriately what you will do with your pet if you cannot take it with you when you move. If you cannot take your pet with you when you leave Salem, please try to find a home for it. The Animal Control Division has limited space, but can be contacted at 375-3038.

Trash Collection: Residents should be familiar with and abide by ordinances regulating refuse, litter and garbage collection. Mobile garbage toters (City-provided garbage cans) shall be available for collection at the curb no earlier than 3:00 p.m. on the day prior to collection and shall be removed by 7:00 a.m. on the day following collection. See City Code Sections 70-1 through 70-52.

Urinating and Defecating in Public: It is unlawful for any person to urinate or defecate in or on any sidewalk, street, or in any public place or any place where other persons are present unless it is in a restroom or bathroom. Neighborhoods close to the campus often see a lot of pedestrian
traffic. While traveling through these areas, it is important to respect the property of the residents. An act such as public urination on the lawn of one of these residents shows lack of respect for their property and a lack of respect for yourself. See City Code Section 58-34.