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Frequently Asked Questions

The Development Review Process Step-By-Step

Q:  What type of approval will I need for my business?

Q: How can I find out what zone my property is in?

Q: How do I apply for a permit?

Q: How do I request an exception?

Q: What materials do I need to submit for an exception?

Q: How long will it take for my project to be approved?

Q: How much will my application cost?

Q: How many bedrooms/units can I have? Aka Density

Q: How tall can I build my fence?

Q: What are my setbacks?

Q: How tall can I build my structure?

Q: How many parking spaces do I need?

Q:  Can I request a parking reduction?

Q:  What is a Use Permit?

Q:  What does Architectural Review evaluate?

Q:  I want to build an accessory building on my property?  What is the process?  What can I build?

Q:  How do I appeal a decision?

Q:  How can I comment on a project? 

Q:  What are current projects in the City?

Q:  Should I do Pre-Application review? 

Q: My property is on the Master or Contributing list of historic resources, what does this mean?

Q:  How long will it take to get a building permit?

 

Q:  What type of approval will I need for my business?

A:  The first step would be to identify the zoning for the location of your project.  With this information you can reference Table 9 of the Zoning Regulations which indicates the land uses allowed by zone. 

This denotes what type of permit will be required to allow that use in each zoning district if allowed at all. 

 

Q: How can I find out what zone my property is in?

A:  Use the GIS Parcel Map to find your zoning.

 

Q: How do I apply for a permit?

A: See Application Review Procedures page.

 

Q:  How do I request an exception?

Once you determine what exception is allowed for your project, according to the Zoning Regulations submit a planning application, the application checklist for your type of exception, and pay the associated fees

 

Q:  What materials do I need to submit for an exception?


A:  Once you determine which exception you will need, submit a planning application along with the materials listed on the application checklist appropriate for the type of permit needed for your project. Bring the planning application, the checklist, and the requested materials to the counter when you submit your application. If an application is missing an item required by the checklist, your application will not be accepted.

 

Q:  How long will it take for my project to be approved?

A:  Many factors, such as the location or size of the project, can influence the amount of time it will take for your project to get reviewed by staff and taken to hearing for approval. 

Once you have identified the type of approval you will need for your project refer to the below table for cycle-times.  Click on the each approval type to view a flowchart noting major milestones in the project approval process.

Approval Type

Duration*‡

Architectural Review Commission (ARC)

8-12 weeks

Administrative Use Permit/Variance/Parcel Map

3-5 weeks

Legislative Decision (Rezone, Annexation, General Plan Amendment, etc.)

12-20 weeks

Tract Maps

12-26 weeks

Planning Commission Use Permit

8-12 weeks

NOTE:

*   Up to 30 days are allotted for completeness review.  Timelines are based on complete application submittals and timely responses to requests for additional information.

‡  If an EIR is required, project timelines will be substantially increased.

 

Q:  How much will my application cost?


A:  The cost of an application will vary depending on the type of permit or approval needed and the scope of review a project will require. Fees for projects can be found at the following link. This is separate from the fees associated with building permit inspections and plan review.  Building review and inspection fees are related to the square footage and type of project.  For more information please call the Building and Safety Division at 805-781-7180.

Planning Services Fee Schedule

Building: New Construction Fee Schedule - INSPECTION FEES

Building:  New Construction Fee Schedule - PLAN CHECK FEES

 

 

Q:  How many bedrooms/units can I have? Aka Density


A:  Reference Section 17.16.010 of the Zoning Regulations (p.35-37) to find information about the maximum density (density units per net acre) of development allowed in your zone.
 

 

Q:  How tall can I build my fence?


A:  See section 17.16.050 (p. 52-55) for height limits on fences, walls, and hedges.  Fence height limits are a function of your front property line and minimum required yard.  The Community Development Director may grant exceptions to fence height standards subject to a finding that no public purpose would be served by strict compliance with the standards.  
 

 

Q:  What are my setbacks?


A:  See section 17.16.10 (p. 38-44) for yard setbacks and 17.16.025 (p. 45-49) for creek setbacks. A yard is defined as an area along a property line within which no structures, parking spaces or parking backup spaces may be located, except as otherwise provided in the zoning regulations. Creek setback requirements apply to all creeks as defined in the Open Space Element and shown on that element’s Creek Map, and only those creeks.
 

 

Q:  How tall can I build my structure?


A:  See section 17.16.040 (p. 51-52) of the 2013 Zoning Regulations for building height limits. The height of a building is the vertical distance from the average level of the ground under the building to the topmost point of the roof, including parapets.

 


Q:  How many parking spaces do I need?


A:  See section 17.16.060 (p.55-68) of the 2013 Zoning Regulations for parking space requirements.

 


Q:  Can I request a parking reduction?


A:  Reference 17.16.060 (p.55-68) of the 2013 Zoning Regulations for parking reduction criteria.
 
 

 

Q:  What is a Use Permit?

A:  Use permits allow flexibility in providing for, regulating, or preventing various uses, so they will be compatible with existing or desired conditions in their neighborhoods.  Conditions of approval can be applied to projects to help reduce or avoid their negative impacts.

 

Q:  What does Architectural Review evaluate?

A:  Architectural review evaluates the suitability and appropriateness of individual project design and to help achieve attractive and environmentally sensitive development.  Review the City’s Design Guidelines to learn more (http://www.slocity.org/communitydevelopment/docsandforms/adcodesdocs.asp).

 

Q:  I want to build an accessory building on my property?  What is the process?  What can I build?

A:  This depends to the scope of the project and how existing buildings and lots are configured.  Check your zoning, look at the Zoning Regulations, and then contact the Planning Department if you still have questions.

 

Q:  How do I appeal a decision?

A:  Depending on the type of approval you will appeal, the appeal may have to go to hearing.  You will have to turn in an appeals form and pay a fee.  The appeals form can be found online @ http://www.slocity.org/communitydevelopment/docsandforms/Appeal%20Form2013.pdf

   

Q:  How can I comment on a project? 

A:  Review hearing agendas on the CDD website and contact the Project Planner via email or phone if you have questions. Submit comments to the Planner or attend public hearings.

 

Q:  What are current projects in the City?

The following is a link to projects currently in the development review entitlement process, entitled, but have not submitted a building permit application, in the plan check process, or under construction.

 

Q:  Should I do Pre-Application review? 

A:  Although Pre-Application is not required, it may highlight any fatal flaws in your project before submitting a more costly application.  Projects possessing one or more of the following characteristics should do Pre-Application review:

  • Residential Projects > 20 Dwelling  Units

  • Mixed-Use Projects

  • Commercial Projects > 20,000 Sq. Ft. New Development

  • Projects Located in Annexation or Expansion areas

  • Projects > Three Stories

  • Hillside Development on Slopes > 20%

  • Large Tract Maps > 25 lots

  • Projects Requiring an EIR

  • General Plan or Specific Plan Amendments

  • Rezones

  • Areas not served by Utilities

 

 

Q:  My property is on the Master or Contributing list of historic resources, what does this mean?

A:  This means your property has been determined to be a locally significant historic resource because of significant architecture or historical themes. Properties determined to be a historic resource may be eligible for benefits such as the Mills Act. Likewise, building owners of qualified historic properties can follow the more flexible California State Historical Building Code (CHBC). The CHBC’s standards and regulations are intended to facilitate the rehabilitation or change of occupancy so as to preserve their original or restored elements and features, to encourage energy conservation and a cost effective approach to preservation, and to provide for reasonable safety from fire, seismic forces or other hazards for occupants and users of such buildings, structures and properties and to provide reasonable availability and usability by the physically disabled.

Additionally, historic properties are eligible to receive a decorative plaque that can be displayed on their property. More importantly changes to historic properties are guided by the City’s Historic Preservation Guidelines and Historic Preservation Ordinance.

 

Q: How long will it take to obtain a building permit?

A: The City reviews applications on a first-come, first-served basis.  However, we are committed to processing your plans as quickly and efficiently as possible.  The City's goal is to complete the plan checks within the following time frames:

 

Type of Plan Check

Project Examples

Initial Plan Check (City’s Goal Time)

Rechecks (City’s Goal Time)

Minor Projects

Non-structural tenant improvements, residential remodels and additions, single-family homes

4 weeks

2 weeks

Moderate Projects

Structural tenant improvements, commercial additions up to 5,000 SF, changes of occupancy

6 weeks

3 weeks

Major Plan Check

New commercial buildings

8 weeks

4 weeks

 



 

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