- A: Please see the "Do I Need A Second Unit Permit " page.
- A: Please see the "Do I Need a Massage Establishment Certification" page.
Setbacks are measured from property lines or access easements, whichever is more restrictive. Each zoning district establishes minimum setback requirements for the front setback, side yard, aggregate side yard, and rear yards. Some lots, such as “flag lots” or oddly configured lots, require that planning staff make a determination with respect to where each setback applies. Staff will consider the access to the lot and orientation of the house among other factors when making such a determination.
For properties located adjacent to creeks, click here to determine your creek setback.
Re-roof permits are generally exempt from review by the Planning & Building Department, except when (1) the project exceeds $50,000 or 1,000 square feet, or (2) the project is located within a commercial, office, or multi-family zoning district. In the former circumstance, aWaste Management Plan is required. In the later circumstance, please specify the proposed roofing color and material when meeting with the planner-on-duty. A permit from the Contra Costa County Building Inspection Department is required in all circumstances.
- A: You can contact the planner-on-duty at (925) 284-1976 or at firstname.lastname@example.org between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. weekdays, or you can visit the City Offices during counter hours between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. weekdays. Calls will be returned as soon as possible, but within no longer than 24-hours.
- A: Click here to view information on design review including triggers that would require your project to gain design review approval from the City. Additionally, the Planning Project Checklist is a brief form intended to provide a property owner or applicant with an overview of the rules and regulations that would be applicable to a given project. It is designed to be completed by a staff planner, however, it can be informative to an applicant as a blank form which lists the triggers for discretionary review.
- A: The Contra Costa County Building Inspection Department ("CCCBID") performs plan check and issues building & grading permits on behalf of the City of Lafayette. To inquire whether a permit has been issued for a specific property, contact the CCCBID Lamorinda Office at (925) 299-0263 or email@example.com and provide the property address or Assessor’s Parcel Number as well as the scope of work.
- A: Click here to review the How to Get a Building Permit in Lafayette pamphlet. Review page 7 of the document, entitled "Exempt from a Building Permit," for work that does not require a building permit. For additional questions, please contact the Contra Costa County Building Inspection Department at (925) 299-0263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A: An appointment is not necessary to see a planner. The Planning & Building Services Division maintains normal drop-in counter hours, Monday through Friday, between 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Alternatively, subject to availability, you may schedule an appointment with a planner for a specific time by calling the department telephone (925) 284-1976, by calling the planner directly, or via email. Direct telephone numbers are listed on the main Planning page. Click on the planner’s name to generate an email message.
- A: You can find your Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) in your property tax statement or your preliminary title report. Can't find it, please contact the planner-on-duty at (925) 284-1976 or via email.
- A: Yes, the fee for the setback determination review is $125, and the fee for processing an exception is $500. Lengthy applications and appeals requiring more than 1 hour of staff time for the initial review and 4 hours for the exception review will be charged an additional $125 per hour. You may mail your submittal or deliver it to the City Offices -- attention of the City Engineer. The Engineering office will usually contact you within one week for the initial review and two weeks for the exception review. Please make checks payable to the City of Lafayette.
If you still have questions, please call the Engineering Technician at (925) 284-1951.
Q:If my proposed work is within the creek setback area, can I apply for an exception to proceed with the work?A: Yes, the requirements for an exception are explained in Section 6-1842 of the ordinance. You will need to supply three items outlined in paragraph (c) of that section. Please note that the certification by the soils engineer must state, “In the professional opinion of the engineer, there is no likelihood of a hazard to persons or property resulting from the proposed construction.”
The City Engineer will review the exception application and make a recommendation for approval or denial to the City Council. As part of an approval, the City Engineer may impose certain conditions on your project to perform additional work in the vicinity of the project. The conditions will be based on the site conditions and the reports that you provide. If the City Council approves the exception, you will need to enter into a creek setback agreement with the City. A blank copy can be provided for your reference. After the agreement is executed, the City will issue your building permit. If you choose to appeal the City Engineer’s recommendation, you may do so at the City Council meeting when the City Engineer presents the recommendation with your application.
- A: If you have a creek-side property and you are contemplating work, you will need a creek setback determination.
Article 5 of the Lafayette Municipal Code Ordinance No. 512 prohibits construction of structures within the creek setback area. Following is a brief explanation of what the setback area is, and how to determine the setback line on your property. (There are other related regulations dealing with flood zones that you should also investigate at the same time by contacting the Planning Services Division at (925) 284-1976.)
Section 6-1841 of the ordinance contains the formula used to determine the setback line. Examples of creek setback determinations can be viewed here. We recommend that you obtain the services of a land surveyor to gather topographic information in the relevant area of your property. Based on the creek depth, the steepness of the bank, and the topography of the top on bank, the land surveyor can determine where the setback line is relative to the toe of the creek bank slope. All of the land between the creek and the setback line is defined as the creek setback area, and no structures are allowed within it.
In order to receive a building permit for your project, you need to submit evidence that your proposed work is outside the setback area. For the City’s review, please submit a topographic plan of the project area, including the creek and its features (i.e., top of bank, toe of bank, bank slopes, flow channel, grade breaks, etc.). You should plot on the plan the setback line in accordance to the ordinance. Lastly, provide a cross-sectional view of the creek, creek bank, the setback line, and your proposed structure. The section should reflect a point where your proposed structure is the closest to the setback line.
We strongly recommend that you use a licensed surveyor to perform this work. You may make the determination yourself. If the City disagrees with your measurements, you may have to submit calculations prepared by a licensed surveyor to prove your case.
- A: If you perform any work or store materials and equipment within the City’s right-of-way, you need an Encroachment Permit. Generally, the City’s right-of-way extends about 20-25 feet from the center of the road on most residential streets, and much wider on through-roads.
Light landscaping (ground cover, low shrubs) without irrigation may be installed in the right-of-way without a permit. However, you do so at your own risk, and anything planted within the City’s right-of-way may be removed if it conflicts with future City road or drainage construction activities.
Permanent structures such as a wall, fence, decorative mail box, or building are not allowed within the City’s right-of-way. Under special circumstances and as a last resort, you may apply for an Encroachment Agreement for these structures, which will be considered by the City Council, in addition to an Encroachment Permit.
After the work covered by your Encroachmernt Permit is complete (including theremoval of utility and construction identification markings), you must contact Lafayette City Offices, Engineering Department Encroachment Permit Hot Line (925) 299-3277 to request a final inspection.
Once your project has been inspected by the engineering staff and all conditions of the permit have been met, the deposit will be refunded in the same manner in which it was made. For check refunds the process may take 2-4 weeks for you to receive your refund; for credit card refunds, the process may take 1-5 days for you to receive your refund.
To obtain an Encroachment Permit, submit an Encroachment Permit application form, providing the address and detailed description of the project, to the Engineering Department. You may also need to provide plans, drawings, or sketches of the project.
When the permit application is received, a staff person will visit the job site to determine conditions the City may place on the project. Some construction details and typical conditions are provided for reference on the back of the Encroachment Permit form. If more information is needed about your project, the staff will call you with questions.
The staff will then determine the amount of the refundable deposit ($500 minimum, $2500 typical) as well as the permit fee to cover the initial staff time ($187.50 minimum). If applicable, additional inspection fees will be deducted from the security deposit when the project is complete.
Someone from the City offices will then contact you (typically within 1-2 days) and let you know that your Encroachment Permit has been processed. You can then submit your payment for the fees and deposit, and pick up your permit.
You are also required to contact the City’s offices at (925) 299-3277 (Encroachment Inspection Hotline) at least 24 hours prior to starting the work covered by your permit (see permit for details).
The City’s General Plan and zoning code establish maximum density limits for each of its residential districts. Developments that exceed these limits are allowed in two ways:
- The State’s density bonus law mandates that a city allow densities exceeding that set by the General Plan if the development includes a certain number of affordable units. The City has no choice but to approve a project that complies with this law.
- The General Plan can be amended to rezone a parcel of land; however, in order to do so the City Council must find that there is a community need for the change proposed. For example, if a developer proposes clustering homes (e.g. condos instead of single family homes) that allows the City to keep more open space.
- A: The Lafayette Municipal Code is available online.
The City of Lafayette does not require a Business License or Business Registration. Businesses are free to operate without a Business License or Registration from the City, provided that they comply with local zoning regulations (e.g. the use is permitted in the zoning district, parking standards are met, etc.) Please contact Planner@lovelafayette.org or (925) 284-1976 to inquire about permitted uses and parking standards.
However, if your business is located in the unincorporated area or are conducting business in the unincorporated area of Lafayette, contact the County offices at (925) 957-5290 for their licensing requirements.
No, the city does not require a permit for yard or garage sales. However, signs advertising for these types of sales must be taken down immediately after the sale is over.
For information about recent and current building permits (issued during the 1980s to the present), please contact:
Contra Costa County Building Inspection Department
Lamorinda Field Office
3685, Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 120
Lafayette, CA 94549
Tel. (925) 299-0263
For information about permits issued prior to the 1980s or if you need copies of the permits, please contact:
Contra Costa County Building Inspection Department
30 Muir Road
Martinez, CA 94553
Tel. (925) 674-7213
Alternatively, you may download the "Records Research Request Form" by clicking here and faxing the completed form to (925) 674-7238 or (925) 674-7239.
Please note that all plans must have permission from the owner and any licensed professional before they may be reproduced.