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The Department of Planning and Building Permit Center is open by appointment only for limited building permit intake, correction returns/pick-up and to schedule virtual meetings. To submit electronic Building Permit or Land Use Permit Applications please visit  our website.

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Planning & Building

County of San Luis Obispo

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Special Inspection Program

The County of San Luis Obispo Department of Planning and Building provides the local building industry with the Special Inspection Program. Use of the program is mandatory when any special inspection is required on a project. The program provides a complete overview of the requirements for owners, design professionals, special inspectors, contractors, the building official, and all staff involved.

Animal Keeping

The raising or keeping of animals as either an incidental or principal use shall comply with the requirements of the Inland Ordinance or Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance below.

Addressing

The Department of Planning & Building is responsible for assigning street addresses to all addressable buildings within the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County. Each of the county's seven incorporated cities are responsible for assigning street addresses to buildings within their respective city limits.

Special Inspection Program

The County of San Luis Obispo Department of Planning and Building provides the local building industry with the Special Inspection Program. Use of the program is mandatory when any special inspection is required on a project. The program provides a complete overview of the requirements for owners, design professionals, special inspectors, contractors, the building official, and all staff involved.

Camping

This service describes the different types of camping requiring a permit and the site requirements for each, the County's enforcement approach to unpermitted camping on private property, and frequently asked questions.

Amendment to Approved Land Division

A land division occurs when a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels, each of which can be sold and owned independently of the others. The Department of Planning & Building processes land division applications for subdivision entitlements according to the provisions of the state Subdivision Map Act and the County Real Property Division Ordinance.

 

Structural Observation Program

The County of San Luis Obispo Department of Planning and Building provides the local building industry with the Structural Observation Program. Use of the program is mandatory when any structural observation is required on a project. The program provides a complete overview of the requirements for owners, design professionals, special inspectors, contractors, the building official, and all staff involved.

Coastal Accessory Dwelling Unit

This guide serves to help you determine whether an accessory dwelling unit (“ADU”) can be established on a parcel or lot (“site”) under the State ADU Law (Coastal Zone).

Bed & Breakfast or Homestay

Provide guest rooms, with the rest of the dwelling being used solely by the family in permanent residence.

Coastal Commission Coordination

The California Coastal Commission is the ultimate permit authority in the Coastal Zone of San Luis Obispo County. In other words, the County can issue development permits in the Coastal Zone, but the Coastal Commission has the ultimate say in how the County's Local Coastal Program (Title 23) is interpreted. Strong coordination between Department of Planning & Building staff and Coastal Commission staff ultimately benefits applicants, as they often need to obtain initial permit authority ("retained jurisdiction") from the Coastal Commission as part of the development permit process.

Building Inspections

Building projects are inspected by Department of Planning & Building staff during construction to ensure that the project complies with applicable codes and ordinances. The goal of the Department is to perform these inspections thoroughly while minimizing their impact to the project.

Coastal Commission Coordination

The California Coastal Commission is the ultimate permit authority in the Coastal Zone of San Luis Obispo County. In other words, the County can issue development permits in the Coastal Zone, but the Coastal Commission has the ultimate say in how the County's Local Coastal Program (Title 23) is interpreted. Strong coordination between Department of Planning & Building staff and Coastal Commission staff ultimately benefits applicants, as they often need to obtain initial permit authority ("retained jurisdiction") from the Coastal Commission as part of the development permit process.

Building Inspections

Building projects are inspected by Department of Planning & Building staff during construction to ensure that the project complies with applicable codes and ordinances. The goal of the Department is to perform these inspections thoroughly while minimizing their impact to the project.

Contractor License Verification

This form can be used to add California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) information to an existing Customer Self-Service (CSS) account.

Certificates of Compliance

A certificate of compliance or conditional certificate of compliance is used to establish a legal record officially recognizing that a parcel was legally created, in compliance with the rules and regulations that were applicable at the time of its creation and current case law. Determinations for certificates of compliance are made by Department of Planning & Building staff.

CSS/Online Services Instructions

The Citizen Self-Service (CSS) portal allows the public to interact with the EnerGov permit tracking and land management system. Through CSS, users have the ability to look up permit details, pay fees, and schedule building inspections. The systems also allows licensed contractors to apply for specific types of construction permits.

Coastal Appeal

Many actions taken by the Department of Planning and Building staff, Building Official may be appealed. Actions by the Planning Department Hearing Officer, Subdivision Review Board, or Planning Commission, to approve or deny a permit application, may be appealed by the applicant or member of the public. In the Coastal Zone, many actions can also be appealed to the California Coastal Commission.

Events

One popular venture is to rent your scenic barns or fields out for rustic wedding ceremonies and receptions. However, doing so requires the property to meet certain standards, and obtain the correct permit. This service describes how event venues are reviewed.

Conditional Use Permit / Development Plan

A discretionary permit, acted on by the Planning Commission, allowing a specific land use.

A Surface Minning and Reclamation Plan is also a Conditional Use Permit, acted on by Planning Commission, allowing the mining of surface materials from a site and requiring the reclamation of the site after the mining is completed. 

Fee Schedule

The Department of Planning and Building updates fees every fiscal year.  Please visit the Fee Schedule folder to look at the current and past fee schedules.

Construction Permit Application

A construction permit is required if you plan to construct, enlarge, alter, move, replace, repair, improve, convert, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure. A permit is also needed if you plan to move more than 50 cubic yards of dirt or build a retaining wall taller than 4 feet from the bottom of the footing.  Please following the steps below to submit a construction permit application electronically.

If you need to repair your septic, or apply for solar, please follow the steps found in Septic Repair Permit and Renewable Energy Permits.

 

Fencing and Screening

Standards for fencing and screening are established to protect certain uses from intrusion, to protect the public from uses that may be hazardous, and to increase compatibility between different land uses by visual screening. Fencing is the enclosure of an area by the materials identified in the following ordinances. Screening is the enclosure of an area by a visual barrier, which may include open or solid fencing, as specified in the following ordinances chapters.

Emergency Permits

Obtaining a land use permit or grading permit can take a substantial amount of time, and sometimes, work must occur immediately in order to address an emergency situation. In these cases, the County can issue an emergency permit to authorize work to occur immediately. Then, within sixty (60) days, it will be necessary to follow-up by applying for the land use permit or grading permit that would ordinarily be required in a non-emergency situation.

Frequently Asked Questions for Construction Permits

Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the construction permit process.

Environmental Review

Department of Planning & Building staff reviews of all discretionary projects to identify, analyze, mitigate, and disclose their potential environmental impacts. This review process is conducted under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and when necessary, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and results in an environmental determination being made for the project.

Garage That is Detached

A detached accessory garage shall not occupy more than 1,000 square feet in area per dwelling unit, unless authorized by Minor Use Permit.

E-Permits for Small Repairs or Installs

E-Permits are available to be submitted online by a California Licensed Contractor. E-Permits include projects that are normally quicker to repair or install. For example: water heater replacement, air conditioning or heating unit replacement, drain repair, lighting, electrical panel replacement, etc.  

Grading Alternative Review Program

Agricultural Grading through the Resource Conservation District (RCD).

Exempt Agricultural Building

Regulations contained in Title 19 of the San Luis Obispo County Code exempt certain agricultural accessory buildings from the necessity of having a building permit. In order to qualify for the exemption, a proposed agricultural accessory building must meet the definition of such buildings contained in Section 202 of the 2016 California Building Code, as well as the specific criteria in Section 19.02.020(f)1.19:a-q of the County’s Building and Construction Ordinance. Approval of an exempt agricultural building only entitles the use itself; separate permits may also be required for any construction or grading activities.

Grading Alternative Review Program

Agricultural Grading through the Resource Conservation District (RCD).

General Plan Administration

The Department of Planning & Building administers the County's General Plan through evaluating all land use applications for consistency with the General Plan, producing annual progress reports, and processing amendments to the General Plan.

Grading Defined

A guide that defines grading.

Grading User Guide

Geologic Report Review

Geologic reports are required for projects requiring a permit within a designated Geologic Study Area (GSA). GSAs include areas of seismic, landslide, liquefaction, erosion, and stability hazards.

Grading Defined

A guide that defines grading.

Grading User Guide

Geologic Report Review

Geologic reports are required for projects requiring a permit within a designated Geologic Study Area (GSA). GSAs include areas of seismic, landslide, liquefaction, erosion, and stability hazards.

Guesthouse

A guesthouse (sleeping/home office facilities without indoor connection to the living area of a principal residence) may be established as a use accessory to a residence as follows.

Geologic Report Review

Geologic reports are required for projects requiring a permit within a designated Geologic Study Area (GSA). GSAs include areas of seismic, landslide, liquefaction, erosion, and stability hazards.

Height Limits

This page is to provide information on where to locate height limits in the Ordinances, Planning Area Standards, and Map Conditions.

Grading (Major) Permit

A grading permit is typically needed when a project will change the topography of a property through removing and/or depositing more than 50 cubic yards of soil. Grading is regulated because it can cause serious problems when not done properly. Staff in the Department of Planning & Building review applications to ensure that they comply with applicable codes and ordinances before issuing a grading permit.

Inland Accessory Dwelling Unit

This guide serves to help you determine whether an accessory dwelling unit (“ADU”) can be established on a parcel or lot (“site”) under the County ADU Ordinance (Inland Areas).

Grading (Major) Permit

A grading permit is typically needed when a project will change the topography of a property through removing and/or depositing more than 50 cubic yards of soil. Grading is regulated because it can cause serious problems when not done properly. Staff in the Department of Planning & Building review applications to ensure that they comply with applicable codes and ordinances before issuing a grading permit.

Land Use Entitlements

Land use permits require either a discretionary or a ministerial decision. The following land use entitlements can be processed with a land use permit application:

Growth Management Ordinance Administration

The County of San Luis Obispo has adopted a Growth Management Ordinance that meters the number of residential dwelling units that can be built in the unincorporated areas of the county during any one fiscal year (July 1st - June 30th). Based on a growth rate of 2.3%, a total of 1,107 dwelling units can be built in in the unincorporated areas of the county during fiscal year 2017-2018. In order to secure the opportunity to build one of these units, a request called an "allocation" is required.

Local Agency Management Program (LAMP)

The Local Agency Management Program (LAMP) develops minimum standards for the treatment and disposal of sewage through onsite wastewater treatment systems. The LAMP is the culmination of the actions required by Assembly Bill 885 and the State Water Resources Control Board to develop regulations and standards for onsite wastewater treatment systems. The County of San Luis Obispo LAMP is designed to protect surface water and groundwater from contamination while providing flexibility in design criteria in consideration of local conditions.

Inland Appeals

Many actions taken by the Department of Planning and Building staff, Building Official may be appealed. Actions by the Planning Department Hearing Officer, Subdivision Review Board, or Planning Commission, to approve or deny a permit application, may be appealed by the applicant or member of the public.

Lot Legality

To obtain a permit for building, grading or subdividing real estate in California, a parcel must be legal.  At the time an application for land development approval or certificate of compliance is submitted, the applicant must present proof that the lot was created legally. This page describes the types of documents that satisfy this requirement.

Lot Line Adjustment

A discretionary application that alters the property lines between four or fewer existing adjoining parcels, taking land from one parcel and adding it to an adjacent parcel without increasing the number of parcels. A lot line adjustment is acted on by either the Hearing Officer or the Subdivision Review Board.

Minimum Parcel Size

To learn about factors that determine the minimum size for lots created through new land divisions in each land use category. Procedures and additional standards for dividing land are in Title 21. By refining the parcel size ranges set in the Land Use Element for each land use category, these standards determine site specific minimum parcel sizes for new lots that are consistent with the General Plan.

Map Number Request

A Map Number is required to apply for a tentative parcel map, tract map, lot line adjustment or public lot.

Movable Tiny Houses

Movable tiny houses are not allowed to be used outside of approved campgrounds or recreational vehicle parks in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County, as they do not comply with building codes. However, tiny houses built on permanent foundation are allowed, and are subject to obtaining County building permits.

Minor Use Permit

A discretionary permit, acted on by a hearing officer on behalf of the Director of Planning & Building, allowing a specific land use. The Minor Use Permit review process provides for public review of significant land use proposals that are not of sufficient magnitude to warrant Commission review; and to insure the proper integration into the community of land uses which, because of their type or intensity, may only be appropriate on particular sites, or may only be appropriate if they are designed or laid out in a particular manner. 

 

Link to the complete Minor Use Permit process in the Inland Land Use Ordinance 22.62.050 - Minor Use Permits.

Link to the complete Minor Use Permit process in the Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance 23.02.033 - Minor Use Permit.

 

Payments

PROCESSING FEE NOTICE: Effective November 9th, 2020, a 2.35% convenience fee ($1.49 minimum) will be added to all credit card transactions and a $1.49 flat rate convenience fee will be added to all e-checks for processing.

 

Electronic Payment Options

With an invoice number, payments can be made electronically through Citizen Self-Service (CSS) Permit Portal, our online payment system in the following ways. For help with an electronic payment, please refer to the guide

  • Major Credit Card
  • E-Check - Pay by check electronically using your bank's routing number and your account number

Electronic payments will expedite the processing of your permit. 

 

Payments By Mail

If electronic payment cannot be made, checks can be mailed to the following address. Please include a copy of the invoice or the invoice number on your check. Be aware that processing will not take place on your application until full payment is received and applied to your account. 

Mail a check to the following address: 

Planning & Building Department

1050 Monterey Street, Room 221

San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

Modification to a Previously Approved Use Permit

A Substantial Conformance is a modification to a previously approved land use permit.

The County, through adoption of various ordinances, has determined that there are certain types of uses that may have an impact on the area in which they are located. These types of uses require the approval of a land use permit, which sets conditions for the use's establishment and operation. Approval of a land use permit only entitles the use itself; separate permits may also be required for any construction or grading activities.

Request a Permit Appointment

Use this form to request an appointment to discuss a permit application in person before applying.  

Negative Declaration Determination

San Luis Obispo County encourages public participation in all phases of the environmental review process. Anyone who has questions about a project or any part of the process is invited to contact the Planning Department to discuss your concerns. If your questions cannot be answered to your satisfaction over the phone, the Environmental Coordinator or a representative will meet with you to address your questions.

Residential Density

The number of dwelling units that may be established on a site that complies with Inland Area Minimum Site Area (Title 22) and Coastal Zone Minimum Site Area (Title 23), is based upon the land use category (i.e. Zoning) applied to the site by the Land Use Element. Learn about what determines the maximum number of single- or multi-family units that may be allowed.

Parcel Map

The process of dividing real property into four or fewer lots for the purposes of sale, lease or financing (including condominiums). State law requires approval and recordation of a map showing the division before sale, lease or financing of a new parcel can legally occur. Parcel maps are acted on by the Subdivision Review Board.

A land division occurs when a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels, each of which can be sold and owned independently of the others. The Department of Planning & Building processes land division applications for subdivision entitlements according to the provisions of the state Subdivision Map Act and the County Real Property Division Ordinance.

 

Re-Submittals for Construction Permit Applications Under Review

The Permit Center Lobby is open to facilitate scheduling appointments and for permit correction returns/pick-up. All permit applications submitted with hardcopy plans will be processed and issued in that format. We are not able to switch to electronic submittal after processing begins. If you have questions, please contact your designated plans examiner, land use technician, or their supervisor.  

In-person appointments may be scheduled for Building Permit Intake, correction return/pick-up and issuance by calling 805-781-5600. Appointments are available Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM (Closed 12:00-1:30 PM). 

Post-Construction Stormwater Management

The Department of Planning & Building is required to track the long-term operation and maintenance of post-construction stormwater control measures installed within the County’s Stormwater Management Area. The Central Coast Post-Construction Requirements order the County to establish operation and maintenance plans with private stormwater system owners. The Department records plans that comply with the Requirements, which document the existence of all structures and require maintenance and operation in perpetuity by any future owners.

Septic System Operation and Maintenance

The Department of Planning & Building encourages property owners to regularly maintain their onsite wastewater treatment systems for optimal functioning. The Department provides forms for reporting the condition of systems and verifying system capacity for building expansions. This page also includes educational information and quick tips on the proper use of onsite wastewater treatment systems.

Pre-Application Meeting

Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

 

A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

  • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
  • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
  • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
  • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
  • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

 

A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

  • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
  • Tract Maps

Setbacks

This page is to provide information on where to locate setback standards in the Ordinances, Planning Area Standards, and Map Conditions.

Pre-Application Meeting

Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

 

A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

  • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
  • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
  • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
  • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
  • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

 

A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

  • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
  • Tract Maps

Shed

A one story detached residential accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (11m ) shall not require a permit, except for the following.

Pre-Application Meeting

Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

 

A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

  • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
  • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
  • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
  • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
  • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

 

A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

  • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
  • Tract Maps

Subdivision Entitlements

The following subdivision entitlements can be processed with a land division application:

Pre-Application Meeting

Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

 

A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

  • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
  • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
  • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
  • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
  • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

 

A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

  • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
  • Tract Maps

Swimming Pool and Spa

Swimming pools, including hot tubs, spas, and related equipment, may be located within any required side or rear setback, provided that they are no closer than 18 inches to a property line, and provided that they are fenced as required by Building Code.

Pre-Application Meeting

Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

 

A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

  • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
  • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
  • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
  • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
  • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

 

A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

  • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
  • Tract Maps

Workshop that is Detached

Any accessory structure intended solely or primarily for engaging in artwork, crafts, light hand manufacturing, mechanical work, etc. is subject to the following ordinances:

Recycling Receipts

This service provides a step by step process to submit your waste and recycling receipts for approval.

Beginning January 1, 2017, new “Cal Green” Building Codes requires all structures to recycle 65% of the waste generated by construction and demo. In addition, San Luis Obispo Green Building Ordinance requires you to recycle 75% of the waste from all projects. 

Before you receive a County permit you must tell the County how you will handle the project’s waste.

Once the project has reached completion, submit your waste and recycling receipts for approval 7 days before you need the Final Building Inspector sign-off. Submittals are taken in the order received, so try to be sure everything is provided, or delays could result.

Renewable Energy Permits

A construction permit is required for the installation of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems and Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations for all residential and commercial buildings. According to County of San Luis Obispo Building and Construction Ordinance Title 19 (Section 19.09.016), these permits will go through an expedited process.

Solar Photovoltaic System Permit 

Review the Solar Photaovoltaic checklist and submittal requirements  

Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Permit 

Review the Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Permit checklist and submittal requirements

Permit applications that meet checklist requirements will be administratively approved through the Building Division. The EVCS project review is limited to health and safety requirements found under local, state and federal law.  

For expedited plan review and inspection process please verify your project complies with all applicable code provisions with the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Inspection Checklist

 

Road Abandonment

An individual seeking the absolute abandonment and discontinuance of a public road must apply for a road abandonment. A formal request to abandon the right-of-way adjacent to a lot, thus incorporating that right-of-way into that lot. This is processed by both the County Public Works and Planning Departments, and the decision is made by the Board of Supervisors. 

The procedure for abandoning a road right-of-way is as follows.

Road Naming

A road name is required for any road that provides access to more than one lot, or to one lot with more than two buildings or more than four houses. Road names must be approved before a final subdivision map is recorded or before a final building inspection is completed. Existing roads can be named or renamed through petition of a majority of the property owners located on the road.

Septic Repair Permit

If your septic system needs to be repaired, you will need to submit for a permit to correct the onsite wastewater system.

 

Site Plan Review

Site Plan Review is required by this Title for projects more intensive than those requiring a Zoning Clearance. Site Plan Review considers the greater effects these uses may have upon their surroundings, and characteristics of adjacent uses that could have detrimental effects upon a proposed use. Like the Zoning Clearance, a Site Plan Review is also a ministerial land use permit. When Site Plan Review is required, application preparation and processing shall occur as follows.

 

Link to the complete Site Plan Review process in the Inland Land Use Ordinance 22.62.040 - Site Plan Review.

There is no Site Plan Review in the Coastal Zone.

Stormwater Management During Construction

The Department of Planning & Building administers state and federal pollution prevention policies for stormwater runoff, verifying that appropriate stormwater permits and plans are in place prior to the commencement of construction. Department staff is available to support applicants with determining which permits and plans are required and will oversee implementation of appropriate pollution control practices during construction.

Surface Mining Inspections

The State Office of Mine and Reclamation (OMR) requires the County to conduct annual mine inspections for all active mines within the unincorporated areas of the county. These inspections include on-site visits to ensure that the mines are operating within their approved boundaries and following the requirements of their approved reclamation plans.

Time Extensions for Land Use Permits and Subdivisions

Initial approval of Land Use Permits and Subdivisions is valid for 24 months (two years). Time Extensions of ONE (1) year may be requested based on the type of project (for example: Minor Use or Conditional Use Permits, and Parcel or Tract Maps). 

Click here for a comprehensive table outlining the eligibility and applicable hearing body or approval processes for various types of Land Use Permits and Subdivisions.

Time Extensions for Land Use Permits and Subdivisions

Initial approval of Land Use Permits and Subdivisions is valid for 24 months (two years). Time Extensions of ONE (1) year may be requested based on the type of project (for example: Minor Use or Conditional Use Permits, and Parcel or Tract Maps). 

Click here for a comprehensive table outlining the eligibility and applicable hearing body or approval processes for various types of Land Use Permits and Subdivisions.

Tract Map

The process of dividing real property into more than four lots for the purposes of sale, lease or financing (including condominiums). State law requires approval and recordation of a map showing the division before sale, lease or financing of a new parcel can legally occur. Tract maps are acted on by the Planning Commission.

A land division occurs when a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels, each of which can be sold and owned independently of the others. The Department of Planning & Building processes land division applications for subdivision entitlements according to the provisions of the state Subdivision Map Act and the County Real Property Division Ordinance.

 

Tree Removal Request

The Department of Planning & Building issues tree removal permits in accordance with county regulations, which differ in the inland and coastal portions of the county. Some areas have additional regulations regarding the removal of trees. Anyone wishing to remove a tree on their property should first contact department staff to determine what regulations apply to their property.

Tribal Cultural Resource Consultation

In accordance with California Assembly Bill 52 (AB 52), the Department of Planning & Building consults with Native American tribes regarding any project that is not exempt from environmental review. This consultation provides the most effective way for the Department to determine if a project could result in significant environmental impacts to tribal cultural resources.

Tribal Cultural Resource Consultation

In accordance with California Assembly Bill 52 (AB 52), the Department of Planning & Building consults with Native American tribes regarding any project that is not exempt from environmental review. This consultation provides the most effective way for the Department to determine if a project could result in significant environmental impacts to tribal cultural resources.

Variance

A discretionary permit, acted on by the Planning Commission, to modify requirements of an ordinance or area plan. A Variance cannot reduce the minimum parcel size or authorize uses that are not allowed by Table 2-2 of the Inland Land Use Ordinance or Table O of the Coastal Land Use Ordinance.

 

Link to the complete Variance process in the Inland Land Use Ordinance 22.62.070 - Variances.

Link to the complete Variance process in the Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance 23.01.045 - Variance.

Voluntary Mergers

A voluntary merger is used to legally combine two or more adjoining parcels which are held in common ownership into a single parcel.

Zoning & Allowable Uses

This page is to guide you through the process of figuring out the Zoning (i.e. Land Use Category) of a parcel and the possible allowable land uses and permit requirements.

A parcel has an Assessor Parcel Number (APN), and this is how the County identifies the location of a property.  A property can have multiple parcels, and therefore, multiple parcel numbers.

The steps provide an overview on how to discover the Zoning of a parcel and possible allowable land uses and land use permit requirements.

  • Accessory Dwelling Unit

    The following information will be helpful when trying to build an Accessory Dwelling Unit for your home or multi-family building.

    Coastal Accessory Dwelling Unit

    This guide serves to help you determine whether an accessory dwelling unit (“ADU”) can be established on a parcel or lot (“site”) under the State ADU Law (Coastal Zone).

    Inland Accessory Dwelling Unit

    This guide serves to help you determine whether an accessory dwelling unit (“ADU”) can be established on a parcel or lot (“site”) under the County ADU Ordinance (Inland Areas).

    Movable Tiny Houses

    Movable tiny houses are not allowed to be used outside of approved campgrounds or recreational vehicle parks in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County, as they do not comply with building codes. However, tiny houses built on permanent foundation are allowed, and are subject to obtaining County building permits.

  • Accessory Structures

    Structures that are accessory to dwellings

    Fencing and Screening

    Standards for fencing and screening are established to protect certain uses from intrusion, to protect the public from uses that may be hazardous, and to increase compatibility between different land uses by visual screening. Fencing is the enclosure of an area by the materials identified in the following ordinances. Screening is the enclosure of an area by a visual barrier, which may include open or solid fencing, as specified in the following ordinances chapters.

    Garage That is Detached

    A detached accessory garage shall not occupy more than 1,000 square feet in area per dwelling unit, unless authorized by Minor Use Permit.

    Guesthouse

    A guesthouse (sleeping/home office facilities without indoor connection to the living area of a principal residence) may be established as a use accessory to a residence as follows.

    Shed

    A one story detached residential accessory structures used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses, provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet (11m ) shall not require a permit, except for the following.

    Swimming Pool and Spa

    Swimming pools, including hot tubs, spas, and related equipment, may be located within any required side or rear setback, provided that they are no closer than 18 inches to a property line, and provided that they are fenced as required by Building Code.

    Workshop that is Detached

    Any accessory structure intended solely or primarily for engaging in artwork, crafts, light hand manufacturing, mechanical work, etc. is subject to the following ordinances:

  • Addressing, Road Naming, & Road Abandonment

    Steps to verifying an address, applying for a road name or road abandonment.

    Addressing

    The Department of Planning & Building is responsible for assigning street addresses to all addressable buildings within the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County. Each of the county's seven incorporated cities are responsible for assigning street addresses to buildings within their respective city limits.

    Road Abandonment

    An individual seeking the absolute abandonment and discontinuance of a public road must apply for a road abandonment. A formal request to abandon the right-of-way adjacent to a lot, thus incorporating that right-of-way into that lot. This is processed by both the County Public Works and Planning Departments, and the decision is made by the Board of Supervisors. 

    The procedure for abandoning a road right-of-way is as follows.

    Road Naming

    A road name is required for any road that provides access to more than one lot, or to one lot with more than two buildings or more than four houses. Road names must be approved before a final subdivision map is recorded or before a final building inspection is completed. Existing roads can be named or renamed through petition of a majority of the property owners located on the road.

  • Animal Keeping

    Information on animal keeping.

    Animal Keeping

    The raising or keeping of animals as either an incidental or principal use shall comply with the requirements of the Inland Ordinance or Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance below.

  • Appeals

    Any discretionary decision that relates to a project, or portion of a project, may be appealed. The hearing body tasked with considering an appeal can affirm, affirm in part, or reverse the decision being appealed.

    Coastal Appeal

    Many actions taken by the Department of Planning and Building staff, Building Official may be appealed. Actions by the Planning Department Hearing Officer, Subdivision Review Board, or Planning Commission, to approve or deny a permit application, may be appealed by the applicant or member of the public. In the Coastal Zone, many actions can also be appealed to the California Coastal Commission.

    Inland Appeals

    Many actions taken by the Department of Planning and Building staff, Building Official may be appealed. Actions by the Planning Department Hearing Officer, Subdivision Review Board, or Planning Commission, to approve or deny a permit application, may be appealed by the applicant or member of the public.

    Negative Declaration Determination

    San Luis Obispo County encourages public participation in all phases of the environmental review process. Anyone who has questions about a project or any part of the process is invited to contact the Planning Department to discuss your concerns. If your questions cannot be answered to your satisfaction over the phone, the Environmental Coordinator or a representative will meet with you to address your questions.

  • Construction Permits

    A construction permit (sometimes called a building permit) is needed for almost any project that involves building or altering a structure or its plumbing, mechanical, or electrical systems.

    Frequently Asked Questions for Construction Permits

    Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the construction permit process.

    Building Inspections

    Building projects are inspected by Department of Planning & Building staff during construction to ensure that the project complies with applicable codes and ordinances. The goal of the Department is to perform these inspections thoroughly while minimizing their impact to the project.

    Grading Defined

    A guide that defines grading.

    Grading User Guide

    Construction Permit Application

    A construction permit is required if you plan to construct, enlarge, alter, move, replace, repair, improve, convert, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure. A permit is also needed if you plan to move more than 50 cubic yards of dirt or build a retaining wall taller than 4 feet from the bottom of the footing.  Please following the steps below to submit a construction permit application electronically.

    If you need to repair your septic, or apply for solar, please follow the steps found in Septic Repair Permit and Renewable Energy Permits.

     

    Contractor License Verification

    This form can be used to add California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) information to an existing Customer Self-Service (CSS) account.

    E-Permits for Small Repairs or Installs

    E-Permits are available to be submitted online by a California Licensed Contractor. E-Permits include projects that are normally quicker to repair or install. For example: water heater replacement, air conditioning or heating unit replacement, drain repair, lighting, electrical panel replacement, etc.  

    Geologic Report Review

    Geologic reports are required for projects requiring a permit within a designated Geologic Study Area (GSA). GSAs include areas of seismic, landslide, liquefaction, erosion, and stability hazards.

    Grading (Major) Permit

    A grading permit is typically needed when a project will change the topography of a property through removing and/or depositing more than 50 cubic yards of soil. Grading is regulated because it can cause serious problems when not done properly. Staff in the Department of Planning & Building review applications to ensure that they comply with applicable codes and ordinances before issuing a grading permit.

    Grading Alternative Review Program

    Agricultural Grading through the Resource Conservation District (RCD).

    Recycling Receipts

    This service provides a step by step process to submit your waste and recycling receipts for approval.

    Beginning January 1, 2017, new “Cal Green” Building Codes requires all structures to recycle 65% of the waste generated by construction and demo. In addition, San Luis Obispo Green Building Ordinance requires you to recycle 75% of the waste from all projects. 

    Before you receive a County permit you must tell the County how you will handle the project’s waste.

    Once the project has reached completion, submit your waste and recycling receipts for approval 7 days before you need the Final Building Inspector sign-off. Submittals are taken in the order received, so try to be sure everything is provided, or delays could result.

    Renewable Energy Permits

    A construction permit is required for the installation of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Systems and Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations for all residential and commercial buildings. According to County of San Luis Obispo Building and Construction Ordinance Title 19 (Section 19.09.016), these permits will go through an expedited process.

    Solar Photovoltaic System Permit 

    Review the Solar Photaovoltaic checklist and submittal requirements  

    Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Permit 

    Review the Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Permit checklist and submittal requirements

    Permit applications that meet checklist requirements will be administratively approved through the Building Division. The EVCS project review is limited to health and safety requirements found under local, state and federal law.  

    For expedited plan review and inspection process please verify your project complies with all applicable code provisions with the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Inspection Checklist

     

    Request a Permit Appointment

    Use this form to request an appointment to discuss a permit application in person before applying.  

    Re-Submittals for Construction Permit Applications Under Review

    The Permit Center Lobby is open to facilitate scheduling appointments and for permit correction returns/pick-up. All permit applications submitted with hardcopy plans will be processed and issued in that format. We are not able to switch to electronic submittal after processing begins. If you have questions, please contact your designated plans examiner, land use technician, or their supervisor.  

    In-person appointments may be scheduled for Building Permit Intake, correction return/pick-up and issuance by calling 805-781-5600. Appointments are available Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM (Closed 12:00-1:30 PM). 

    Local Agency Management Program (LAMP)

    The Local Agency Management Program (LAMP) develops minimum standards for the treatment and disposal of sewage through onsite wastewater treatment systems. The LAMP is the culmination of the actions required by Assembly Bill 885 and the State Water Resources Control Board to develop regulations and standards for onsite wastewater treatment systems. The County of San Luis Obispo LAMP is designed to protect surface water and groundwater from contamination while providing flexibility in design criteria in consideration of local conditions.

    Septic Repair Permit

    If your septic system needs to be repaired, you will need to submit for a permit to correct the onsite wastewater system.

     

    Septic System Operation and Maintenance

    The Department of Planning & Building encourages property owners to regularly maintain their onsite wastewater treatment systems for optimal functioning. The Department provides forms for reporting the condition of systems and verifying system capacity for building expansions. This page also includes educational information and quick tips on the proper use of onsite wastewater treatment systems.

    Post-Construction Stormwater Management

    The Department of Planning & Building is required to track the long-term operation and maintenance of post-construction stormwater control measures installed within the County’s Stormwater Management Area. The Central Coast Post-Construction Requirements order the County to establish operation and maintenance plans with private stormwater system owners. The Department records plans that comply with the Requirements, which document the existence of all structures and require maintenance and operation in perpetuity by any future owners.

    Stormwater Management During Construction

    The Department of Planning & Building administers state and federal pollution prevention policies for stormwater runoff, verifying that appropriate stormwater permits and plans are in place prior to the commencement of construction. Department staff is available to support applicants with determining which permits and plans are required and will oversee implementation of appropriate pollution control practices during construction.

    Special Inspection Program

    The County of San Luis Obispo Department of Planning and Building provides the local building industry with the Special Inspection Program. Use of the program is mandatory when any special inspection is required on a project. The program provides a complete overview of the requirements for owners, design professionals, special inspectors, contractors, the building official, and all staff involved.

    Structural Observation Program

    The County of San Luis Obispo Department of Planning and Building provides the local building industry with the Structural Observation Program. Use of the program is mandatory when any structural observation is required on a project. The program provides a complete overview of the requirements for owners, design professionals, special inspectors, contractors, the building official, and all staff involved.

  • CSS Online Services

    Guide for contractors, including instructions and license registration form for EnerGov.

    CSS/Online Services Instructions

    The Citizen Self-Service (CSS) portal allows the public to interact with the EnerGov permit tracking and land management system. Through CSS, users have the ability to look up permit details, pay fees, and schedule building inspections. The systems also allows licensed contractors to apply for specific types of construction permits.

  • Emergency Permits

    Information about emergency permits.

    Emergency Permits

    Obtaining a land use permit or grading permit can take a substantial amount of time, and sometimes, work must occur immediately in order to address an emergency situation. In these cases, the County can issue an emergency permit to authorize work to occur immediately. Then, within sixty (60) days, it will be necessary to follow-up by applying for the land use permit or grading permit that would ordinarily be required in a non-emergency situation.

  • Environmental Review

    Information about environmental review.

    Environmental Review

    Department of Planning & Building staff reviews of all discretionary projects to identify, analyze, mitigate, and disclose their potential environmental impacts. This review process is conducted under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and when necessary, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and results in an environmental determination being made for the project.

  • Exempt Agricultural Building

    Agricultural buildings that do not require a construction permit.

    Exempt Agricultural Building

    Regulations contained in Title 19 of the San Luis Obispo County Code exempt certain agricultural accessory buildings from the necessity of having a building permit. In order to qualify for the exemption, a proposed agricultural accessory building must meet the definition of such buildings contained in Section 202 of the 2016 California Building Code, as well as the specific criteria in Section 19.02.020(f)1.19:a-q of the County’s Building and Construction Ordinance. Approval of an exempt agricultural building only entitles the use itself; separate permits may also be required for any construction or grading activities.

  • General Plan Administration and Amendment

    Information about general plan administration and amendment.

    General Plan Administration

    The Department of Planning & Building administers the County's General Plan through evaluating all land use applications for consistency with the General Plan, producing annual progress reports, and processing amendments to the General Plan.

    Pre-Application Meeting

    Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

     

    A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

    • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
    • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
    • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
    • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
    • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

     

    A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

    • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
    • Tract Maps
  • Events and Camping

    Information about events and camping.

    Events

    One popular venture is to rent your scenic barns or fields out for rustic wedding ceremonies and receptions. However, doing so requires the property to meet certain standards, and obtain the correct permit. This service describes how event venues are reviewed.

    Camping

    This service describes the different types of camping requiring a permit and the site requirements for each, the County's enforcement approach to unpermitted camping on private property, and frequently asked questions.

  • Fees

    Information on fees.

    Fee Schedule

    The Department of Planning and Building updates fees every fiscal year.  Please visit the Fee Schedule folder to look at the current and past fee schedules.

    Payments

    PROCESSING FEE NOTICE: Effective November 9th, 2020, a 2.35% convenience fee ($1.49 minimum) will be added to all credit card transactions and a $1.49 flat rate convenience fee will be added to all e-checks for processing.

     

    Electronic Payment Options

    With an invoice number, payments can be made electronically through Citizen Self-Service (CSS) Permit Portal, our online payment system in the following ways. For help with an electronic payment, please refer to the guide

    • Major Credit Card
    • E-Check - Pay by check electronically using your bank's routing number and your account number

    Electronic payments will expedite the processing of your permit. 

     

    Payments By Mail

    If electronic payment cannot be made, checks can be mailed to the following address. Please include a copy of the invoice or the invoice number on your check. Be aware that processing will not take place on your application until full payment is received and applied to your account. 

    Mail a check to the following address: 

    Planning & Building Department

    1050 Monterey Street, Room 221

    San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

  • Grading

    Learn the definition of grading, the different types of grading, and what type of approvals are required to grade.

    Grading Defined

    A guide that defines grading.

    Grading User Guide

    Grading Alternative Review Program

    Agricultural Grading through the Resource Conservation District (RCD).

    Grading (Major) Permit

    A grading permit is typically needed when a project will change the topography of a property through removing and/or depositing more than 50 cubic yards of soil. Grading is regulated because it can cause serious problems when not done properly. Staff in the Department of Planning & Building review applications to ensure that they comply with applicable codes and ordinances before issuing a grading permit.

  • Growth Management

    Information about growth management in the County.

    Growth Management Ordinance Administration

    The County of San Luis Obispo has adopted a Growth Management Ordinance that meters the number of residential dwelling units that can be built in the unincorporated areas of the county during any one fiscal year (July 1st - June 30th). Based on a growth rate of 2.3%, a total of 1,107 dwelling units can be built in in the unincorporated areas of the county during fiscal year 2017-2018. In order to secure the opportunity to build one of these units, a request called an "allocation" is required.

  • Inspections

    Building Inspections, Special Inspection Program, and Surface Mining Inspections.

    Building Inspections

    Building projects are inspected by Department of Planning & Building staff during construction to ensure that the project complies with applicable codes and ordinances. The goal of the Department is to perform these inspections thoroughly while minimizing their impact to the project.

    Special Inspection Program

    The County of San Luis Obispo Department of Planning and Building provides the local building industry with the Special Inspection Program. Use of the program is mandatory when any special inspection is required on a project. The program provides a complete overview of the requirements for owners, design professionals, special inspectors, contractors, the building official, and all staff involved.

    Surface Mining Inspections

    The State Office of Mine and Reclamation (OMR) requires the County to conduct annual mine inspections for all active mines within the unincorporated areas of the county. These inspections include on-site visits to ensure that the mines are operating within their approved boundaries and following the requirements of their approved reclamation plans.

  • Land Division Permits

    A land division occurs when a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels, each of which can be sold and owned independently of the others. The Department of Planning & Building processes land division applications for subdivision entitlements according to the provisions of the state Subdivision Map Act and the County Real Property Division Ordinance.

    Parcel Map

    The process of dividing real property into four or fewer lots for the purposes of sale, lease or financing (including condominiums). State law requires approval and recordation of a map showing the division before sale, lease or financing of a new parcel can legally occur. Parcel maps are acted on by the Subdivision Review Board.

    A land division occurs when a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels, each of which can be sold and owned independently of the others. The Department of Planning & Building processes land division applications for subdivision entitlements according to the provisions of the state Subdivision Map Act and the County Real Property Division Ordinance.

     

    Pre-Application Meeting

    Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

     

    A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

    • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
    • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
    • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
    • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
    • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

     

    A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

    • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
    • Tract Maps

    Subdivision Entitlements

    The following subdivision entitlements can be processed with a land division application:

    Amendment to Approved Land Division

    A land division occurs when a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels, each of which can be sold and owned independently of the others. The Department of Planning & Building processes land division applications for subdivision entitlements according to the provisions of the state Subdivision Map Act and the County Real Property Division Ordinance.

     

    Coastal Commission Coordination

    The California Coastal Commission is the ultimate permit authority in the Coastal Zone of San Luis Obispo County. In other words, the County can issue development permits in the Coastal Zone, but the Coastal Commission has the ultimate say in how the County's Local Coastal Program (Title 23) is interpreted. Strong coordination between Department of Planning & Building staff and Coastal Commission staff ultimately benefits applicants, as they often need to obtain initial permit authority ("retained jurisdiction") from the Coastal Commission as part of the development permit process.

    Certificates of Compliance

    A certificate of compliance or conditional certificate of compliance is used to establish a legal record officially recognizing that a parcel was legally created, in compliance with the rules and regulations that were applicable at the time of its creation and current case law. Determinations for certificates of compliance are made by Department of Planning & Building staff.

    Geologic Report Review

    Geologic reports are required for projects requiring a permit within a designated Geologic Study Area (GSA). GSAs include areas of seismic, landslide, liquefaction, erosion, and stability hazards.

    Lot Legality

    To obtain a permit for building, grading or subdividing real estate in California, a parcel must be legal.  At the time an application for land development approval or certificate of compliance is submitted, the applicant must present proof that the lot was created legally. This page describes the types of documents that satisfy this requirement.

    Lot Line Adjustment

    A discretionary application that alters the property lines between four or fewer existing adjoining parcels, taking land from one parcel and adding it to an adjacent parcel without increasing the number of parcels. A lot line adjustment is acted on by either the Hearing Officer or the Subdivision Review Board.

    Pre-Application Meeting

    Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

     

    A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

    • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
    • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
    • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
    • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
    • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

     

    A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

    • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
    • Tract Maps

    Map Number Request

    A Map Number is required to apply for a tentative parcel map, tract map, lot line adjustment or public lot.

    Time Extensions for Land Use Permits and Subdivisions

    Initial approval of Land Use Permits and Subdivisions is valid for 24 months (two years). Time Extensions of ONE (1) year may be requested based on the type of project (for example: Minor Use or Conditional Use Permits, and Parcel or Tract Maps). 

    Click here for a comprehensive table outlining the eligibility and applicable hearing body or approval processes for various types of Land Use Permits and Subdivisions.

    Tract Map

    The process of dividing real property into more than four lots for the purposes of sale, lease or financing (including condominiums). State law requires approval and recordation of a map showing the division before sale, lease or financing of a new parcel can legally occur. Tract maps are acted on by the Planning Commission.

    A land division occurs when a parcel of land is divided into two or more parcels, each of which can be sold and owned independently of the others. The Department of Planning & Building processes land division applications for subdivision entitlements according to the provisions of the state Subdivision Map Act and the County Real Property Division Ordinance.

     

    Tribal Cultural Resource Consultation

    In accordance with California Assembly Bill 52 (AB 52), the Department of Planning & Building consults with Native American tribes regarding any project that is not exempt from environmental review. This consultation provides the most effective way for the Department to determine if a project could result in significant environmental impacts to tribal cultural resources.

    Voluntary Mergers

    A voluntary merger is used to legally combine two or more adjoining parcels which are held in common ownership into a single parcel.

  • Land Use Permits

    A ministerial or discretionary permit that grants an applicant the authority to establish a use of land only after obtaining additional construction or grading permits, as required. Land use permits are Zoning Clearance / Plot Plan, Site Plan Review, Minor Use Permit, and Conditional Use Permit / Coastal Development Plan.

    Coastal Commission Coordination

    The California Coastal Commission is the ultimate permit authority in the Coastal Zone of San Luis Obispo County. In other words, the County can issue development permits in the Coastal Zone, but the Coastal Commission has the ultimate say in how the County's Local Coastal Program (Title 23) is interpreted. Strong coordination between Department of Planning & Building staff and Coastal Commission staff ultimately benefits applicants, as they often need to obtain initial permit authority ("retained jurisdiction") from the Coastal Commission as part of the development permit process.

    Conditional Use Permit / Development Plan

    A discretionary permit, acted on by the Planning Commission, allowing a specific land use.

    A Surface Minning and Reclamation Plan is also a Conditional Use Permit, acted on by Planning Commission, allowing the mining of surface materials from a site and requiring the reclamation of the site after the mining is completed. 

    Geologic Report Review

    Geologic reports are required for projects requiring a permit within a designated Geologic Study Area (GSA). GSAs include areas of seismic, landslide, liquefaction, erosion, and stability hazards.

    Land Use Entitlements

    Land use permits require either a discretionary or a ministerial decision. The following land use entitlements can be processed with a land use permit application:

    Minor Use Permit

    A discretionary permit, acted on by a hearing officer on behalf of the Director of Planning & Building, allowing a specific land use. The Minor Use Permit review process provides for public review of significant land use proposals that are not of sufficient magnitude to warrant Commission review; and to insure the proper integration into the community of land uses which, because of their type or intensity, may only be appropriate on particular sites, or may only be appropriate if they are designed or laid out in a particular manner. 

     

    Link to the complete Minor Use Permit process in the Inland Land Use Ordinance 22.62.050 - Minor Use Permits.

    Link to the complete Minor Use Permit process in the Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance 23.02.033 - Minor Use Permit.

     

    Pre-Application Meeting

    Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

     

    A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

    • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
    • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
    • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
    • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
    • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

     

    A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

    • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
    • Tract Maps

    Site Plan Review

    Site Plan Review is required by this Title for projects more intensive than those requiring a Zoning Clearance. Site Plan Review considers the greater effects these uses may have upon their surroundings, and characteristics of adjacent uses that could have detrimental effects upon a proposed use. Like the Zoning Clearance, a Site Plan Review is also a ministerial land use permit. When Site Plan Review is required, application preparation and processing shall occur as follows.

     

    Link to the complete Site Plan Review process in the Inland Land Use Ordinance 22.62.040 - Site Plan Review.

    There is no Site Plan Review in the Coastal Zone.

    Modification to a Previously Approved Use Permit

    A Substantial Conformance is a modification to a previously approved land use permit.

    The County, through adoption of various ordinances, has determined that there are certain types of uses that may have an impact on the area in which they are located. These types of uses require the approval of a land use permit, which sets conditions for the use's establishment and operation. Approval of a land use permit only entitles the use itself; separate permits may also be required for any construction or grading activities.

    Time Extensions for Land Use Permits and Subdivisions

    Initial approval of Land Use Permits and Subdivisions is valid for 24 months (two years). Time Extensions of ONE (1) year may be requested based on the type of project (for example: Minor Use or Conditional Use Permits, and Parcel or Tract Maps). 

    Click here for a comprehensive table outlining the eligibility and applicable hearing body or approval processes for various types of Land Use Permits and Subdivisions.

    Tribal Cultural Resource Consultation

    In accordance with California Assembly Bill 52 (AB 52), the Department of Planning & Building consults with Native American tribes regarding any project that is not exempt from environmental review. This consultation provides the most effective way for the Department to determine if a project could result in significant environmental impacts to tribal cultural resources.

    Variance

    A discretionary permit, acted on by the Planning Commission, to modify requirements of an ordinance or area plan. A Variance cannot reduce the minimum parcel size or authorize uses that are not allowed by Table 2-2 of the Inland Land Use Ordinance or Table O of the Coastal Land Use Ordinance.

     

    Link to the complete Variance process in the Inland Land Use Ordinance 22.62.070 - Variances.

    Link to the complete Variance process in the Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance 23.01.045 - Variance.

  • Pre-Application Meeting

    Contact us and ask to speak to an information planner to discuss your project. If the planner recommends a pre-application meeting, you may schedule the meeting by submitting an online request form here. General Plan Amendment applications require a pre-application meeting, and a pre-application meeting is recommended for a Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan and Tract Map applications.

    Pre-Application Meeting

    Pre-application meetings are intended to aid prospective applicants in understanding the required rules and regulations that apply to their land use, subdivision, or general plan amendment project, and to reveal potential problems. The goal of providing a pre-application meeting is to make the permitting process with Planning as efficient and understandable as possible.

     

    A pre-application meeting is required for General Plan Amendment applications, such as:

    • Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan map or text amendment
    • Land Use Ordinance/Coastal Zone Land Use Ordinance text amendments
    • Property request submitted during Land Use Element/Local Coastal Plan area plan update
    • New specific plans and amendments to existing specific plans
    • Amendment to any other element of the General Plan

     

    A pre-application meeting is recommended for the following types of applications:

    • Conditional Use Permit/Development Plan
    • Tract Maps
  • Residential Density

    To learn about how many dwellings a parcel is allowed.

    Residential Density

    The number of dwelling units that may be established on a site that complies with Inland Area Minimum Site Area (Title 22) and Coastal Zone Minimum Site Area (Title 23), is based upon the land use category (i.e. Zoning) applied to the site by the Land Use Element. Learn about what determines the maximum number of single- or multi-family units that may be allowed.

  • Minimum Parcel Size

    Learn about the minimum parcel size of a lot.

    Minimum Parcel Size

    To learn about factors that determine the minimum size for lots created through new land divisions in each land use category. Procedures and additional standards for dividing land are in Title 21. By refining the parcel size ranges set in the Land Use Element for each land use category, these standards determine site specific minimum parcel sizes for new lots that are consistent with the General Plan.

  • Setbacks & Height Limits

    Setbacks & Height Limits

    Height Limits

    This page is to provide information on where to locate height limits in the Ordinances, Planning Area Standards, and Map Conditions.

    Setbacks

    This page is to provide information on where to locate setback standards in the Ordinances, Planning Area Standards, and Map Conditions.

  • Tree Removal

    Tree Removal Request

    Tree Removal Request

    The Department of Planning & Building issues tree removal permits in accordance with county regulations, which differ in the inland and coastal portions of the county. Some areas have additional regulations regarding the removal of trees. Anyone wishing to remove a tree on their property should first contact department staff to determine what regulations apply to their property.

  • Zoning & Allowable Uses

    Zoning defines how property in specific geographic zones can be used. In the un-incorporated County of San Luis Obispo, the Zoning and Land Use are one in the same. The following will provide steps for how to find out a parcel's zoning (i.e. land use) and other tips to discovering what land uses are allowable and what permits would be required.

    Zoning & Allowable Uses

    This page is to guide you through the process of figuring out the Zoning (i.e. Land Use Category) of a parcel and the possible allowable land uses and permit requirements.

    A parcel has an Assessor Parcel Number (APN), and this is how the County identifies the location of a property.  A property can have multiple parcels, and therefore, multiple parcel numbers.

    The steps provide an overview on how to discover the Zoning of a parcel and possible allowable land uses and land use permit requirements.