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How does a person know/determine that an application is required?

Applicants are encouraged to meet with Community Development Department staff prior to submitting an application. This can be done by telephone at (805) 781-7170 or by visiting our office at City Hall, 919 Palm Street, San Luis Obispo. After discussing your project and important development standards (setbacks, height, parking, landscaping, etc.) that will apply to your project, staff will be happy to discuss and assist you with the application process. Such a preliminary meeting will help expedite the development process.
   ·Application Materials
   ·Application Submittal
   ·Environmental Review
   ·Public Hearings
   ·Other Permits

Application Materials  Application packets are available in the Community Development Department. Included with the packets is a checklist of the materials that must be submitted for a complete application, including the planning application and applicable processing fee.

Click here to view the Department's fee schedule

Application Submittal  Upon submittal of a completed application package, staff will determine whether the application is complete. Your application package will then be taken in and assigned to a planner for processing. You can call within a few days of submitting your application to determine who the processing planner will be. It is advisable to work closely with that planner in order to stay advised of the progress of your application.

Environmental Review  The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that certain land use actions be reviewed for their potential adverse effects on the environment. If your project requires this review, you will be notified by staff. A separate fee is required for environmental review and can be paid at the time you submit you application package. Upon review of your application, staff will make one of the following three determinations regarding environmental review: 1) That the project will not have a significant impact on the environment; or 2) That the project could have a significant impact on the environment but that certain mitigation measures have been incorporated into the project to preclude the impacts; or 3) That the project could have a significant effect on the environment and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) must be prepared. To the extent possible, environmental review of your project will occur concurrently with processing of your planning application, however if an EIR is necessary, action on the application will be deferred. Please note that many projects that require permit processing are exempt from environmental review. Check with staff to make sure.

Public Hearings  Most planning decisions involve some level of public review and input. After the application is determined to be complete, staff will schedule a hearing before one of several hearing bodies depending on the type of application. Hearings can be held by the Administrative Hearing Officer, Cultural Heritage Committee, Architectural Review Commission, Planning Commission, and in some cases the City Council. The hearing will occur during a regularly scheduled meeting of the commission or council.

No later than 10 days before a scheduled hearing, a notice announcing the hearing is published in the Telegram Tribune. Notices are also mailed to near-by property owners, and in some cases occupants.

At the noticed hearing, the project will be considered. It is strongly recommended that the applicant or their agent be present at the hearing to explain the proposed project and answer any questions. Any other concerned persons (such as neighbors of the proposed project) will also be permitted to address the hearing body with questions, comments, or concerns they may have.

At the meeting, the hearing body will act to either approve, conditionally approve, or deny the application. Any decision must be based on specific findings. The hearing body may also choose to delay action on the application if they feel more information is needed to adequately evaluate the proposal.

Appeal   Decisions of the Community Development Director or the Administrative Hearing Officer are appealable to the Planning Commission. Decisions of the Planning Commission and the Architectural Review Commission are appealable to the City Council. Council decisions are final. There is a $273.00 fee for filing an appeal, which must be made in writing within a limited 10 day period following the action. It is important to note that multiple appeals can be filed and you should never rely on a neighbor or other party for filing an appeal on your behalf.

Other Permits  Sometimes there will be a need to obtain other permits or approvals before you can start development. Typically, all construction involves a Building Permit to be issued. It is highly recommended that you contact the Building and Safety Division early in the permit process for Building Permit and impact fee requirements.  The Application Form for a Construction Permit is available in the Community Development Department as well as a checklist of what your plan details should contain.

Sometimes, you will need to obtain a permit from an outside agency such as the Department of Fish and Game, Caltrans, Regional Water Quality Control Board, or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These agencies have separate requirements and should be consulted early in the permit process. The California Office of Permit Assistance (COPA) is available to help you with coordination of permits and environmental processing through State agencies.

Summary  It is important to recognize that all application fees are non-refundable after substantial processing has occurred, regardless of whether the application is approved, denied, or expires. It is, therefore, strongly recommended that applicants utilize the preliminary review option discussed below.

The Community Development Department will be happy to help you through the application process. Please feel free to contact the Department if you have any questions regarding this process or if you have any questions regarding planning regulations in San Luis Obispo.

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