So you want to make some changes to your home or small business? You don’t think they are very significant but when you go into the city offices they tell you that you need a permit of some sort. The more you talk, the more your small project seems to get complex and costly. You will soon become very familiar with the building permit process.
The development and land use building permit process is both necessary and complex. It’s generally a process of paperwork and meetings with committees, commissions, boards, and councils.
Ultimately, California laws and the laws of your county and city determine the exact course that new your development proposal must travel in order to receive approval. The permit process is supposed to ensure that each project approved meets the requirements and vision of the local area. We know that to you, the property owner, the process often appears punitive, expensive, and discouraging. We are well aware of the hardships you may face.
Understand What You are Getting Into: The Building Permit Process
Your discretionary building permit process is going to involve the review of your project by multiple layers of local government, and will often involve review by regional, county, and other interested agencies and organizations. The reason for this building permit process, which feels like a nightmare, is that these agencies need to understand how your proposal will impact surrounding land uses. These impacts include increasing traffic and parking demand to negatively affecting local air and water quality.
Additionally, many state and regional codes require project proposals from you, the property owner. They will want you to demonstrate that your project complies with any number of requirements to ensure that it will not negatively affect surrounding land uses. It must also prevent burdening local and regional resources. Even your small project can be implicated in this lengthy discretionary building permit process.
The Building Permit Process of Local Government
The majority of your discretionary permit process takes place at the city or county staff level. That is to say, that most review is conducted by local agency administrators. The local staff reviews your project for compliance with planning and zoning regulations and standards, engineering and building requirements, environmental impacts, and other project-specific requirements. This part of the building permit process can involve a lot of meetings. You may need to meet with individual staff members, groups consisting of representatives of various divisions, or executive level administrators. Generally, this part of the building permit process is administrative, reviewed based on existing codes and standards.
The permit process is a highly complex, and regulated procedure. There are time limits that the government must conform to for many aspects of the process. These time limits include
- deeming projects complete or incomplete;
- providing reviews and comments back to applicants;
- assessing the project’s environmental impacts;
- providing adequate notice of pending public hearings.
Additionally, there are time limits for you, as well, for things such as responding to requests for information, or filing an appeal of a denied application. These regulations are contained in thousands of pages of government code, and knowing what requirements apply to each specific situation is more than the occasional applicant has time to research.
Design Review Committees, State and Federal Advisory Bodies
After the staff-level review is complete, your project can then be reviewed by the appropriate advisory and final decision-making bodies. Before the final decision is made, projects are often referred to an advisory committee, such as a Design Review Commission.
At this point in the process, review of your permit by government bodies comes from elected and appointed officials, not professionally-trained staff. The process now becomes more political, requiring a less technical and more subjective approach.
Sierra Pacific Pacific Land Consultants know this process well. We know how to get through each layer in the most seamless and easy way possible. We understand each level of review and can guide you through your permitting process.