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How to Get a Permit
  1. Before designing a house or residential addition, you will need to consult the Zoning Counter. You may come in at any time from 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday thru Thursday. Sign up at the General Information Desk and wait for help on a first-come basis. No walk-ins in the morning after 11:30 am; no walk-ins in the afternoon after 2:30 pm.

  2. Give the Counter person your Assessor's Parcel Number (APN) or street address. They will tell you what regulations and policies apply to your parcel, whether it is in the "urban" or "rural" area, and what zoning and development fees will be required.

    The Zoning Counter may find that you need to obtain a development permit or technical review in addition to a building permit, and will tell you how to apply for it. For most permits, it is required that you wait to apply for a building permit until after you find out what conditions of approval will be placed on your development permit.

    On substandard urban streets, you may be required to deed a strip of land along your property frontage to the County for future street widening.

    If you are proposing a new single-family dwelling on a vacant parcel, you may apply for a Pre-Development Site Review (PDSR). This review provides you with written zoning and environmental planning information about you property (based on a site visit) and will reduce zoning and environmental planning review fees due at building permit application submittal. For additional information, see the PDSR brochure or ask staff about it.

    Ask the Zoning Counter staff person whether you need to consult Public Works, (Room 410, (831) 454-2160), about your driveway, sewer connection, drainage district, or road design engineering fees.

    Ask for these information sheets:

    "Residential Districts and Uses, also click here for Site Development Standards"
    "How to Measure Building Heights"
    "A Typical Erosion Control Plan" and

    • Any other applicable handouts that pertain to your project that the Counter Staff can supply.
    • Consult the Building Counter staff. They will tell you which codes are currently being used, and what building fees will be required. Ask for "Plan Check Requirements for Residential Structures" and handouts on energy efficiency standards.
    • For property in rural areas (outside the County Urban Services Line), Consult Environmental Health, (Room 312, (831) 454-2022), about your water supply and septic system requirements.

      Contact Resource Planning staff to inquire about driveway and site grading. If your site is steep and/or potentially unstable, we recommend that you consult with the Zoning Counter to determine if a Geologic Hazards Assessment should be done before you design the house. In addition, be aware that a geotechnical report is frequently required, and an engineering geologic report is sometimes required, depending on your particular site conditions. Call your local fire protection district/agency for on-site water storage requirements, and for fire protection and emergency vehicle access requirements. For electric and gas utilities consult PG & E.

    • When you have obtained the needed Zoning approvals and are familiar with all the considerations that apply to your parcel, have your final plans drawn according to the "Plan Check Requirements" information sheet. Be sure to include all the features listed.
    • When you are ready to submit your plans, contact the General Information Desk at 831-454-3252 to schedule an appointment. An application fee is required at the time of submittal. This fee is determined by what you want to build and where your property is located, and covers plan checking and any processing required to review your project. To download a fee estimate calculator, click here. For a detailed description of the various fees that apply, see the brochure "Fees Associated with your Residential Building Permit". Once the plan checking and site inspections have been done, fees are not refundable.
    • Your plans will be sent to each of the following agencies for review, if applicable: Zoning (site standards and status of development permits, if needed)
      Environmental Planning
      (grading, erosion control, geologic review, and environmental protection)
      Building and Energy Plan Checking
      (structural code compliance and energy standard compliance)
      County Fire Marshal
      (address)
      Local Fire Protection District
      (fire code compliance)
      Public Works
      Operations
      (driveway approval)
      Drainage
      (Flood-Control Zones 5, Live Oak/Soquel; 6, Aptos; and 8, San Lorenzo Valley)
      Sanitation
      (sewer connection)
      Road Design Engineering
      (road improvement requirements)
      Environmental Health
      (private water supply and/or septic system)
      Historic Resources Preservation
      (historic structures only)
      Code Compliance
      (if a violation exists)

      This review process usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks, although permits for some small projects may be processed in about two weeks. Permits for electrical, plumbing or repair projects may be issued on the same day of application.

      When all reviews are completed, you will be notified of the results: either that your application has been approved; or, if any reviewer has not approved your application, their comments will be forwarded to you. You will need to supply the required information and the proper number of plans through the Zoning or Building Counter so that your plans can be rerouted to the reviewer who noted the deficiency.

    • If a school impact fee or a Fire District fee is applicable, you must pay it to the school district or fire district office and present your receipt to the Building Counter when you pick up your building permit. A form for paying the school fee will be mailed to you with the approval letter.
    • When permit approval is complete, you will receive a letter listing the remaining fees and stating that your building permit is ready to be issued. Come in and tell the staff at the General Information Desk that a building permit is ready for you. Bring proof of water service (a form letter from your water district, if applicable), and your school and/or fire district receipts. Sign on the Building Counter waiting list, pay the fees, and receive your building permit and sewer connection or septic permit.

      Don't delay! You have six months from the date of your final approval to claim your building permit. After six months, the application will become void, unless you apply for an extension. For information on extensions, contact the Building Information Line at 831-454-2260.

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