What to Expect During the Planning Application Process

After a complete application is submitted, some minor zoning permits may be approved administratively at the counter.  All others will be assigned to a project planner for review and further processing. The first step is typically sending a copy of the application materials (also known as a referral) to various PRMD Divisions, County departments, and State agencies for review, comment(s) and condition(s).

Environmental review in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) will be required unless the proposed project is specifically exempt. Additional information or studies may be required to complete processing of the application. The project planner will prepare an Initial Study under CEQA. This will assess potential environmental impacts and identify mitigation measures to reduce potential impacts to a less than significant level. If the project planner determines that no significant environmental impact will result from the proposed project, a Negative Declaration or Mitigated Negative Declaration will be prepared. 

Proposed minor use permits found to be exempt from CEQA (e.g. fences exceeding height limits, second dwelling units, etc.) may be posted and noticed for a potential hearing waiver.  If no requests for a public hearing are received during the posting period, the use permit may be approved administratively subject to conditions.  If a request for hearing is received, the project will be scheduled for hearing.

After a Negative Declaration (or Mitigated Negative Declaration) is completed, or a request for hearing has been received, the proposed Planning application will be set for a public hearing before the appropriate board or commission. A notice of the public hearing will be posted at the property and sent to owners of the property within 300 feet of the site. A copy of recommended conditions and/or mitigation measures will be sent to the applicant prior to the hearing date. All interested persons are given an opportunity to comment on the proposed application at the public hearing.

The applicant typically has 24 months from the date of approval to comply with the conditions of approval and implement the project. 

Condition Compliance

There are generally two types of conditions, mitigation measures related to an environmental impact of the project, and standard conditions related to adopted codes and policies of the County.  The conditions will generally apply at three different points in the project lifespan, prior to building permit issuance or startup of the use, during construction, and long term ongoing requirements. 

The conditions will be organized into various groups depending on which section of PRMD is responsible for insuring the applicant has completed them (i.e. Health, Building, Transportation and Public Works, Sanitation, Planning, etc.).  The applicant typically has 24 months to meet the conditions and begin construction of the project (or initiate the use).

The applicant may apply for a one year extension of time prior to the expiration of this 24 month period if necessary (fees apply). 

Project Revisions

Please note that subsequent to project submittal, significant revisions to an application by the applicant may require that parts of the planning review process start over, which will entail project delays and increased costs.