Skip to main content

About Planning Permits

Overview about Planning Permits for projects in unincorporated Marin

The Planning Application Guide takes a deep dive into the Planning Permitting Process.

But here are some key takeaways.

The process to build structures or start new businesses requires many steps. These steps involve many different departments, and sometimes one step needs to happen before the other. For example, you might need a Planning Permit before you can get a Building Permit. In other cases, you might need to get a septic permit before you can get a Building Permit and start building.

A Planning Permit is usually only one piece of the whole development process. Certain construction projects or establishing new uses need Planning Permits before starting. Your project may also need permits issued by others. Learn about other departments in the Community Development Agency and the types of permits they issue. You should also contact your local utility districts and fire district for other requirements that may apply.

What are Planning Permits?

Planning Permits assess where you want to build and how you want to use or subdivide your property. They carry out policies we set to:

  • protect the environment
  • reflect community values
  • and guide sustainable development

Some planning permits need judgement and decisions on them are appealable. These are “discretionary” permits. Others check if you meet a set of required standards and are not appealable. These are “ministerial” permits. Learn more about the variety of Planning Permit types  we issue and what types of projects trigger them.

When Do I Apply?

Think of a Planning Permit as permission to start the development process. Planning permits check for compliance with zoning, which decides where structures can go or how big they can be. 

So, it’s always a good idea to check if you need a Planning Permit before starting any construction project. The type of Planning Permit you need depends on what your project is, as mentioned above. It can also depend on the zoning district your project is in. 

Find out what your zoning is by using our Zoning and Property Search Tool.

Don't Know Where to Start?

We can help! Visit the one-stop shop to Get a Planning Permit for more in-depth details on what you need and how to submit. We also provide a variety of free and paid services to help you figure out whether you need a Planning Permit. Learn more about how to get Planning Help through free walk-in services or fee-based consultations.

Page updated May 16, 2024