San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor A Guide to Navigating the Permitting Process in San Carlos. | The White Oaks Blog
San Carlos Real Estate June 10, 2014

A Guide to Navigating the Permitting Process in San Carlos.

by Chuck Gillooley

In response to last week’s Open Forum post where readers were encouraged to share their recent experiences (positive or negative) with getting remodeling projects approved through the Planning and Building Divisions, the City of San Carlos has been kind enough to provide the following guide to help homeowners better understand the permitting process, what timelines to expect for responses and approvals, and also to provide key contact information in case you have questions or problems getting your project through the system.

The outline below is provided by the City of San Carlos:


Tips on How to Navigate the San Carlos Residential Permitting Process:

The Planning and Building Divisions at the City of San Carlos would like to help those who are reading this blog. We value your time and know that a remodel project can be challenging – even without the permit process added in. Our goal is to try to make the planning and building permit process quick and efficient. We want to help you achieve your desired project – and we have made many recent improvements to provide you with quality customer service.

Our new Development Services Center was designed with our customers in mind. The center includes staff from both our Planning and Building Divisions to better coordinate your permits. We are available to assist anyone Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. and noon. If these hours are not convenient, we can set an appointment for you. Please contact us at (650) 802-4263 or stop by during our Development Services Open House scheduled for Wednesday, June 11 from 8:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. to meet us in person and learn more about the services we offer. We look forward to meeting you!

Below are some permit processing tips from our Planning and Building Divisions and who to contact if you have questions.

Residential Planning Permit Review:

· Our staff is available to assist early in your planning stages – even before you submit plans.

· If you are planning a single-family residential addition or a new home, it is likely that a Planning Permit will be required. You will need to get the Planning Permit before you get a Building Permit.

· All residential Planning Permit work is managed here at City Hall and City staff is available to meet with you, your contractor, or architect any time during the process.

· You will be assigned a City planner who will be your point-person throughout the Planning Permit process. The planner will work with you or your representative to understand your project goals and can then identify the level of review that will be required for your project, inform you of relevant zoning requirements and outline a path and timeline for Planning Permit approval.

· Depending on your project’s complexity and the applicable Planning Permit process, average processing times can range from 45 to 90 days to obtain a Planning Permit.

· After your Planning Permit is approved, staff will let you know what follow up items need to be completed before receiving a Building Permit.

If you have any questions about the Planning Permit review process, please call Lisa Porras, Principle Planner at (650) 802-4264, or send her an e-mail, at

Residential Building Permit Review:

· Single-family home projects that received a Planning Permit are typically reviewed by our plan check consultants outside City Hall – we manage their work and communicate with them if there are any issues.

· Average turn-around time for initial Building Permit plan review comments is 10 working days (for projects that already received a Planning Permit).

· Average review time for Building Permit plan review re-check comments is 5 working days.

· Interior remodels, kitchen and bath remodels, and other projects that do not require a Planning Permit are typically reviewed in-house by one of three plan checkers. Here are some benchmark internal Building Permit plan check timelines:

Single-Story Addition: 2 to 4 Weeks
Kitchen & Bath Remodel: 1 to 2 Days
Deck: 1 to 2 Weeks
Interior Remodel: 1 to 3 Weeks
Solar Installation: 1 to 3 Days
Retaining Wall: 2 to 4 Weeks

If you have any questions about the Building Permit plan review or inspection process, please call Chris Valley, Building Official at (650) 802-4262, or by sending an e-mail, at

Please feel free to contact me, at (650) 802-4209, or via e-mail, at if you have any questions about this information. We look forward to helping you with your project.

Al Savay, AICP
Community Development Director
City of San Carlos, California
PH: (650) 802-4209
600 Elm Street
San Carlos, CA 94070

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