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ADS-007 Policy on Ministerial Construction Permit Extensions Due to COVID-19

On March 4, 2020, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution ratifying a declaration of local health emergency in the County of Sonoma. 

Due to the unprecedented disruption to our society, economy and local construction industry from the COVID-19 virus, Permit Sonoma has extended the term of permit applications and the term of issued permits for most ministerial construction permits.

Scope

This policy applies to all ministerial construction permit types where Permit Sonoma is the authority having jurisdiction and that typically have a one year application term and that typically have a three year permit term.

Permit types included:

  • Building Permits
  • Encroachment Permits
  • Grading and Storm Water Permits
  • Septic Permits
  • Water permits

Permit types not included:

Ministerial Permit Application Extensions

Permit applications have a one year life pursuant to our locally adopted building code. The term limit for applications is governed by Sonoma County Code section presented here:

SCC Section 7-13(B)(2):

Time Limit of Application. If no permit is issued within one year following the date of application, the application shall expire by limitation, and plans and other data submitted for review may thereafter be returned to the applicant or destroyed by the building official. If, after such expiration, the original plans are resubmitted within 180 days following such expiration, the plan review fee shall be 25% of that otherwise required. No application shall be renewed in this fashion more than once. In order to further renew action on an application after expiration, the applicant shall resubmit plans and pay a new plan review fee. The chief building official may extend this time period when such extension is warranted, including but not limited to (1) to correct an error by the department, (2) when a legal action prevents the project from being completed within the allowed year time frame, or (3) in the interest of public health and safety. The chief building official's decision regarding the limitation period shall be final.

Permit Sonoma finds that a time extension is warranted.  Permit Sonoma authorizes that permit applications that would otherwise expire after the start of the local health emergency or were submitted during the health emergency are hereby extended two additional years past their normal expiration date.  Permit applications submitted after the official end of the local health crisis shall not be extended solely due to the health crisis.

Examples:

  • A building permit application submitted on December 1, 2019; the time limit of application extends to November 30, 2022 (the normal one year to November 30, 2020, plus the two-year extension).
  • A grading permit application submitted on May 1, 2020; the time limit of application extends to April 30, 2023 (the normal one year to April 30, 2021, plus the two-year extension).

Issued Ministerial Permits Extensions

Issued permits have a three year life pursuant to our locally adopted building code.  The term limit for issued permits is governed by Sonoma County Code section presented here:

SCC Section 7-13(B)(3):

Time Limit of Permit

(a)  Unless otherwise authorized, every permit issued by the Permit and Resource Management Department under the provisions of this section shall remain valid if the work on the site authorized by that permit is commenced within 12 months after the permit issuance, unless the permittee has abandoned the work authorized by the permit.

(b)  A permittee may request an extension of a permit. The chief building official may grant, in writing, one or more extensions of time for periods of not more than 180 days per extension. The permittee shall request an extension pursuant to this subdivision in writing and demonstrate justifiable cause for the extension.

Permit Sonoma finds that a time extension is warranted.  Permit Sonoma authorizes that issued permits that would otherwise expire after the start of the declared local health emergency or were issued during the local health emergency are hereby extended two additional years past their normal expiration date.  Permit issued after the official end of the local health crisis shall not be extended solely due to the health crisis.

Examples:

  • A building permit issued on April 1, 2018; the time limit of permit extends to March 31, 2023 (the normal three years to March 31, 2021, plus the two-year extension).
  • A grading permit issued on June 1, 2020; the time limit of permit extends to May 31, 2025 (the normal three years to May 31, 2023, plus the two-year extension).

Duration of Local Health Emergency

The local health emergency started on March 4, 2020, and will end upon an official declaration by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.