The Planning Division is responsible for assisting the City Council with planning for Alameda's future development and reviewing proposed development for compliance with the City's adopted policies and ordinances. Planning staff is available in the Permit Center to provide public assistance on obtaining planning permits. The Planning Division also supports the Planning Board, the Historical Advisory Board, and the Public Art Commission.
A planning permit is an entitlement that grants a particular use (activity) or development (buildings and subdivision of land) to proceed on a specific property. Planning permits are sometimes confused with building permits; however, they are not the same. Building permits relate to the method of construction of a building or development. If your project requires a planning permit, it usually also requires a building permit. Planning permits are often subject to conditions of approval and subject to expiration under specified circumstances. The most common types of planning approvals include:
- Zoning clearance for new businesses
- Design review for exterior building modifications
- Sign permit for installation of business signs
- Use permit for activities or business subject to special conditions
- Home occupation permit for home-based businesses
- Certificate of approval for substantial modifications to historic structures and removal of protected trees
When to Consult a Planner
A consultation with the Planning Division is often the first step in the permitting process. Planning review is required for most alterations to a building's exterior and all new construction of structures. We review business license applications to verify that the use of a particular property conforms with the Zoning Ordinance. Planners are also responsible for reviewing new development to ensure it conforms to City policies, code requirements and design guidelines. We provide assistance to applicants to prepare and obtain planning permits, and to help them understand the regulations that apply to their projects.