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Planning & Building Review & Approval

Most all home projects in Belvedere require either Planning review and approval, Building review and approval or both. To get started, you need to determine what is required for your specific project. You can do that by following the two steps below.

If you have any questions or need help, contact the Planning & Building Department by email or call (415) 435-3838. We also suggest reviewing the City's Planning & Building How-to Guide to get a full overview of the planning and building process.

1. Determine Type of Planning Review Required

The planning review and approval process is referred to as Design Review. The type of Design Review required for your home project is based on the project scope as well as how it relates to Belvedere Municipal Code, Policies and Standards.

For example, some home projects only require Design Review by a Planning Department staff member while larger more complex projects require Design Review by the City Planning Commission. In same cases, smaller projects may even be subject to Design Review exemption.

Below are the typical types of Design Review along with average review and approval times. Click on the relevant box to get more details and see recommended next steps.

Small-sized home projects are often subject to Design Review Exemption. The determination and approval process usually takes 1-2 Days.

Small-sized home projects are typically characterized as:

  • Most replacement and repairs including roofing, windows, and siding.
  • Minor exterior color or material changes including paint, roof, and siding material when consistent with the provisions of chapter 20.04.140.
  • Landscape changes or additions that are not part of a larger project subject to Design Review. Includes adding trees not larger than 12’ at maturity, removal of non-significant trees (with an Arborist report) and other changes to landscaping generally not visible to the public.
  • Renewable energy systems including installation of photovoltaic and battery backup systems.
  • Minor changes to previously approved plans which do not alter the intent of the plan.

Next Steps

If you think your project qualifies for Design Review Exemption, complete the Design Review Exemption Application and submit it with applicable supporting documents to the Planning & Building Department. A staff member will make the final determination.

Medium-sized home projects may only require Planning Staff Design Review. The approval process usually takes about +/- 50 days.

Medium home projects are typically characterized as:

  • Interior remodels of any size.
  • Minor additions, extensions or exterior changes to, or reconstruction of existing dwellings and related accessory structures.
  • Minor changes to exterior materials or colors that significantly alter the appearance of an existing structure.
  • Changes or Additions to existing Design Review approvals.

Next Steps

If you think your project qualifies for Planning Staff Design Review, you should contact the Planning & Building Department to review and discuss.

Large-sized home projects require Planning Commission Design Review. The approval process usually takes about 90 days. However, this can take longer depending on the complexity of the project and the impact it will have on the neighborhood.

Large home projects are typically characterized as:

  • Location and Design of all significant remodels and new structures.
  • Construction or installation of new fences, retaining walls, walkways, sidewalks, patios, decks, fountains, ponds, swimming pools, garbage or trash enclosures, and sport courts.
  • Landscape changes or additions when a visually significant portion of a lot is affected. Including the addition of trees exceeding a height of 12 feet at maturity.
  • Parking and loading areas, carports, garages and driveways.
  • Exterior lighting, signs, skylights, satellite dishes, antennas.
  • Variances and Exceptions to Belvedere development standards including set-backs, building heights, lot coverage, and floor area.

Next Steps

If you think your project qualifies for Planning Commission Design Review, you should contact the Planning & Building Department to review and discuss.

2. Determine Type of Building Review Required

A Building Permit is required for all additions, alterations, repairs, and for all maintenance that is done to electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. The type of Building review required to get a Building Permit issued for your project is based on the project scope as well as how it relates to Belvedere Municipal Code, Policies and Standards.

For example, a Building Permit can be issued for some home projects after a short review by a Building staff member. However, a Building Permit for a larger more complex projects will require a fuller review by multiple city departments (e.g., Building, Engineering, Public Works and Fire). In same cases, very small projects may be subject to Building Permit exemption.

Below are the typical types of Building review and approval times for a Building Permit. Click on the relevant box to get more details and see recommended next steps.

Some home projects limited in size are subject to Building Permit Exemption when being done as a single activity or not in conjunction with a larger project. These include:

  • Painting, wallpapering, bookshelves, cabinets, tile or marble work
  • Fences and gates not higher than 6 feet
  • Roof, deck, and siding repairs when 100 square feet or less
  • Retaining walls less than four feet high when it can be demonstrated that there is no lateral pressure against it

Next Steps

If you think your project qualifies for Building Permit Exemption, please confirm this with the Belvedere Building Official. Also, note that most exterior changes require Planning Design Review even though a building permit may not be required.

Small-sized home projects often only require an Expedited Building Staff Review before a building permit can be issued. This process is usually completed in 1-2 Days.

Small home projects are typically characterized as:

  • Change of contractor.
  • Minor interior electrical repairs, upgrades, or temporary electrical service not requiring plans.
  • Minor interior plumbing repairs, upgrades, or water heater replacement, not requiring plans.
  • Minor interior mechanical repairs, upgrades, or HVAC replacement, not requiring plans.

Roofing and window change-outs. Please contact the Planning Department before submitting a Building Permit applications. These items must be formally exempted from Design Review.

Next Steps

If you think your project qualifies for Expedited Building Staff Review, complete the Building Permit Application and submit it with applicable supporting documents to the Planning & Building Department.

Medium-sized home projects often require Standard Building Staff Review before a building permit can be issued. This process is usually completed within +/- 10 days.

Medium home projects are typically characterized as:

  • Minor interior remodels involving plans.
  • Deck repairs involving plans.
  • Minor retaining wall construction, involving plans.
  • Dock repairs or replacements, at the Lagoon, involving plans.
  • Minor project revisions which do not include exterior changes.
  • Residential solar P.V. systems (not equipped with an ESS system). 

Next Steps

If you think your project qualifies for Standard Building Staff Review, complete the Building Permit Application and submit it with applicable supporting documents to the Planning & Building Department.

Large-sized home projects often require Multi-Department Review (e.g., Engineering, Fire, Public Works) before a building permit can be issued. An initial Plan Review Letter is usually issued +/- 30 Days. The Plan Review Letter will outline any additional requirements and next steps.

Large home projects are typically characterized as:

  • Additions, major repairs involving extensive structural components.
  • Major repairs involving extensive structural components

More complex projects will require +/- 35 Days for initial Plan Review Letter to be issued.

  • New homes.
  • Major remodels involving extensive structural upgrades.

Next Steps

If you think your project qualifies for Multi-Department Review, complete the Building Permit Application and submit it with applicable supporting documents to the Planning & Building Department.

Again, if you have any questions or need help, contact the Planning & Building Department or review the City's Planning & Building How-to Guide to get a full overview of the planning and building process.

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