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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

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.