Coastal Development regulations are designed to balance the desire of property owners to develop their property within the coastal zone with the protection of the coastal environment. A hearing-level Coastal Development Permit (CDP) is required when a project does not meet the criteria for an exemption, is located in the Coastal Commission appeals jurisdiction or involves a Subdivision, Planned Agricultural Permit or Certificate of Compliance Type B. A Biological Impact Form is required in addition to the required forms when the Planning staff determines that the project has the potential to impact sensitive habitats or protected plants or wildlife. All hearing-level CDPs are appealable to the California Coastal Commission.
Steps in the Planning Permit Process
If a planning or zoning permit is required, it must be processed before applying for a building or construction permit. The Planning Section of the Planning and Building Department processes these permits. When multiple permits are required (e.g., Coastal Development Permit and Design Review Permit), the longer permit processing time and higher level decision-making body will apply to concurrently processing associated permits. In reviewing and processing your permit application, the assigned planner will generally complete the following steps:
1. Initial Application Review
The planner reviews your project to determine whether your application is complete. During this stage, the planner:
- Determines whether your project conforms with the County's General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and other regulations.
- Solicits comments and recommendations from review agencies (relative to their regulations) and applicable homeowners associations or community groups.
- Discusses your project with a development review committee of senior staff members.
The County has 30 days after receiving your application to notify you if you must provide any additional materials or information before your application can be processed.
2. Advisory Body Review
Advisory Body Review is required for projects in the Midcoast and in Pescadero. Review by the Agricultural Advisory Committee is required for projects within the Planned Agricultural District Zoning District.
3. Environmental Review
This review ensures that your project complies with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and evaluates its potential impact on the environment. If the project does not qualify for an exemption, an Initial Study/Negative Declaration must be prepared, additional fees are required, and an additional 2-3 months should be added to estimated permit processing times. For projects with complex or unmitigated environmental impacts, an Environmental Impact Report may be required, additional fees are required, and an additional 6 -12 months should be added to estimated permit processing times.
4. Public Notification
Public notice is mailed to property owners within a 300-ft. radius and residents within a 100-ft. radius of the subject property.
5. Permit Decision
The County Zoning Hearing Officer or Planning Commission makes a permit decision at a public hearing. A public hearing allows the public to provide information, comments and suggestions on your project before the County makes a decision.
6. Appeal Period
A decision by the County Zoning Hearing Officer is appealable to the Planning Commission. A decision by the Planning Commission is appealable to the Board of Supervisors. An approval decision by the Board of Supervisors is appealable to the California Coastal Commission.
Approximated time provides an estimated duration for processing of the specified permit only and does not include processing of any appeals. It is not intended to represent an exact timeframe for a specific project, which may be more or less than the time provided. Required permits and processing times vary depending on project complexity and location. For projects requiring multiple permits (e.g., Design Review Permit and Coastal Development Permit), please use the highest estimated times for each required permit. These times do not include processing times for non-Planning permits which may be required for the project, such as permits from the Building Inspection Section, Department of Public Works, Environmental Health Division, sewer or water districts, or state or federal agency. To obtain an estimated processing timeframe for a specific project, please call or visit the Current Planning Section and speak with a Planner to identify the required permits and reviews for your project.
Approximated Fees provide an estimated rounded fee total based on the permit fee and other anticipated review costs of the adopted Planning Service Fee Schedule and do not represent an exact fee amount for a specific project, which may be higher or lower than the fee provided. Required permits and fees vary depending on project complexity and location. For projects requiring multiple permits (e.g., Design Review Permit and Coastal Development Permit), please use the highest of the estimated permit fees and add on the established fees of other required permits from the Planning Service Fee Schedule to obtain an estimated fee total. Additional department review fees may apply, including those of the Geotechnical Section, Department of Public Works, Environmental Health Division, and the applicable fire department. To obtain an estimated fee total for a specific project, please call or visit the Current Planning Section and speak with a Planner to identify the required permits and reviews for your project.