Below are some of the most frequently asked Planning questions and answers. Click on a question to see the response. For more information, contact Planning at (951) 332-6464.

Q: Do I need a Planning permit?

A: Planning permits are required for most new development projects, new businesses, or projects requiring special exceptions from City Zoning standards, like setback adjustments, variances or modifications of parking standards. Permit applications are available at the Public Counter at City Hall and on the City’s website. The City’s Planning Department processes zoning and other discretionary land use permit applications. Most permit applications require public notice and/or a public hearing. The Planning Director can take final action on some types of minor permits; however most development permit applications require final action by the five-member Planning Commission or the City Council. 

Planning Application

Q: How long does it take to get a Planning permit?

A: The time required to get a Planning permit varies, depending upon the type and number of permits required, and on the size and complexity of your project. Generally, most minor permit applications that don’t require a public hearing or environmental review are processed within six to ten weeks from the date the City receives a complete application. Permit applications for larger, more complex development projects can typically require six months to one year to process, sometimes longer, especially if an environmental impact report is required.

Q: What type of approval will I need for my business?

A: All businesses require a Business Registration, issued by the City. Contractors and others doing business within the City but based outside the City also require a Business Registration. If you’re planning to start a new business, it’s important to check with the Planning Department to determine if your business is allowed in the zone where you plan to operate. For more information on Business Registration, call (951) 332-6464, extension 224 or email: If you plan to operate a business from your home, check with the Planning Department to see if it qualifies as a Home Occupation. Home occupations are businesses operated out of a home, typically in a residential zone, and require approval of a Home Occupation Permit through the Planning Department.

Q: How can I find out what zone my property is in?

A: You can check the City’s Zoning Map and Zoning Ordinance, which list allowed land uses by Zone; or contact the Planning Department. The Planners can help you with this information.

Q: How do I request an exception to Zoning Standards and Requirements?

A: Whenever possible, new development should follow all applicable land use and zoning standards. In some cases, applicants can apply for a setback adjustment or variance to allow exceptions from Zoning standards and requirements. Such exceptions must be justified based on physical site constraints or other planning factors. Financial cost is usually not a justification for granting an exception to zoning standards. To determine if an exception is needed, or to find out how to request an exception, call the Planning Department.

Q: What application materials do I need to submit for an exception?

A: Typically, requests for exceptions require a Planning application, written description of the request and reasons for the exception, architectural plans, and an initial fee deposit. Please refer to the appropriate application checklist for a list of the required information.

Q: How much will my application cost?

A: Planning fees are charged on a time and materials basis. An initial fee deposit is required at the time you submit a planning application. The City charges against the deposit for the amount of staff time spent on processing your application. The City has adopted a Fee Schedule which lists the fee deposit required for each type of Planning permit application. The initial deposit is based on average costs to process applications similar to yours. Actual costs may vary, depending upon the project type, scope and complexity. Applicants are notified if an additional fee deposit is required to complete the processing of their application. Any deposit balance remaining after the City takes action on your application is returned to the applicant.

Q: How many bedrooms/units can I have?

A: The number of dwellings allowed on a single parcel is determined by the Land Use Zone in which the parcel is located. To find out the number of dwellings allowed on your property, check the Zoning Map to find your property’s zone, and then check the “development standards” for the Zone in which your property is located. Development standards are described in the City’s Zoning Ordinance. City Planning staff can help you find this information.

Q: How tall can I build my fence?

A: For residential zones, the maximum fence height alongside and rear property lines is six feet. Within the street setback area, solid fencing (like concrete block and wood fences) cannot exceed forty-two inches (42”). An additional two feet of open fencing is allowed on top of solid fencing in the street setback area.

Q: What are my setbacks?

A: Setbacks are the closest distance from a structure to the nearest property line. They apply to buildings and other structures such as sheds, barns, patios, arbors and other roofed structures. The minimum required setbacks for each Zone are listed under “development standards” in the City’s Zoning Ordinance.

Q: How tall can I build my structure?

A: Allowed building height is determined by the Zone in which the building is located. For example, for one-family dwellings, the maximum height is three stories, or 40 feet. Maximum allowed heights for other types of buildings varies, depending upon Zone and type of use. Refer to the Zoning Ordinance development standards for the appropriate Zone.

Q: How many parking spaces do I need?

A: Off-street parking space requirements are determined by the type of land use and land use intensity. The number of off-street parking spaces required can be based on gross floor area, number of bedrooms and/or dwelling units, number of employees, or number of seats. Off-street parking requirements are described in Section 18.12 of the Zoning Ordinance. Public street parking spaces don’t count toward meeting the parking requirement.

Q: Can I request a parking reduction?

A: Alternative parking requirements and exceptions to parking requirements may be approved or conditionally approved by the Director, as described in Section 13.18 of the Zoning Ordinance.

Q: What is a Conditional Use Permit? (“CUP”)

A: A conditional use permit is a type of Planning permit which allows flexibility in providing for, regulating, or preventing various uses, so they will be compatible with existing or desired conditions in their neighborhoods. Conditions of approval, such as limited hours of operation, parking requirements, signage or other requirements can be applied to projects to help reduce or avoid their negative impacts and improve their compatibility with the neighborhood.

Q: I want to build a detached accessory building on my property? What is the process? What can I build?

A: Special development standards apply to the number, size and placement of detached accessory structures. Section 09.10.20 of the Zoning Ordinance sets permit requirements and explains exceptions. For example, on lots of one (1) acre or less, when the principal use of a lot is a one-family dwelling, approval of a Site Development Permit is required to allow: 1) one accessory building (e.g. shed, barn, guest quarters) with a total floor area of up to 650 square feet, or 2) one additional detached accessory building with a floor area of 120 square feet or larger on a lot which already has one or more existing or approved detached accessory buildings with a floor area of 120 square feet or larger. Detached accessory structures with floor areas of less than 120 square feet do not require permits.

Q: How do I appeal a decision?

A: Decisions of the Planning Director and the Planning Commission may be appealed within ten (10) calendar days of the decision date. Depending on the type of approval you are appealing, the appeal may have to go to hearing. To appeal a decision, you must submit an appeals form, a letter describing the reasons for the appeal, and a fee.

Q: How can I comment on a development project?

A: Review Planning Commission and City Council public hearing agendas on the City’s website and contact the Project Planner via email or phone if you have questions. Submit comments to the Planner or attend public hearings to address your comments to the Commission or City Council.