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California Department of
Housing and Community Development

Processing and Permitting Procedures


(916) 263-2911

Topics Covered

Please note, the information provided below does not reflect statutory changes enacted as of January 1, 2018 as part of the 2017 Legislative Housing Package. For additional information on the specific bills, provisions and timing for implementation, please visit our Legislative Housing Package webpage.




Black and white photo of blue prints

Government Code Section 65583(a) requires “An analysis of potential and actual governmental constraints upon the maintenance, improvement, or development of housing for all income levels,…including land use controls, building codes and their enforcement, site improvements, fees and other exactions required of developers, and local processing and permit procedures…”.

Processing and permit procedures can pose a considerable constraint to the production and improvement of housing. Common constraints include lengthy processing time, unclear permitting procedures, layered reviews, multiple discretionary review requirements, and costly conditions of approval. These constraints increase the final cost of housing, uncertainty in the development of the project, and overall financial risk assumed by the developer.

Requisite Analysis

If the jurisdiction has a design review process, the element should describe and analyze review-approval procedures and decision-making criteria. The analysis could also indicate whether objective standards and guidelines exist to allow an applicant for a residential development permit to determine what is required in order to mitigate cost impacts.
The housing element should also describe the typical processing time and procedures of a residential, planned-unit development, from the “preliminary review” process to final approval by the governing board, and how development standards (e.g. setbacks and minimum lot area) and allowable densities are determined for the planned unit zone.

Sample Tables

The following sample tables can help organize critical information pertaining to housing element requirements. The information provided in the tables should be tailored to the jurisdiction and followed by appropriate analysis. (Note: These sample tables are not intended to be a substitute for addressing the analytical requirements described in the statute.)

Residential Use Zone
R-1* R-2* R-3* Mixed-Use*
Single-Family — Detached        
Single-Family — Detached        
Single-Family — Attached        
2-4 Dwelling Units        
5+ Dwelling Units        
Residential Care ≤ 6P        
Residential Care > 6P        
Emergency Shelter        
Single-Room Occupancy        
Manufactured Homes        
Transitional Housing        
Farmworker Housing        
Supportive Housing        
Farmworker Housing        
Second Units        
*Change zoning designations to match jurisdiction’s zoning ordinance as appropriate.        
Type of Approval or Permit Typical Processing Time
Ministerial Review  
Conditional Use Permit  
Zone Change  
General Plan Amendment  
Site Plan Review  
Architectural/Design Review  
Tract Maps  
Parcel Maps  
Initial Environmental Study  
Environmental Impact Report  

  Single-Family Unit Subdivision Multifamily < 20 units Multifamily > 20 units
List Typical Approval Requirements        
Estimated Total Processing Time        

Sample Analysis