Conditional Use Permits

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A Conditional Use Permit ("use permit" or "CUP") grants a specific land use for a given property. Project applicants need to obtain a CUP when conditional or special land uses are desired. The use permit process is intended to allow the City case-by-case review of these specific land uses. In reviewing a CUP application, the staff and Planning Commission will evaluate such items as:

  • Building placement and size
  • Traffic generation
  • Noise generation
  • Hours and days of operation
  • Adequacy of parking
  • Circulation
  • Pick-up and drop-off facilities
  • Overall compatibility of the land use with adjoining properties
  • Other related development impacts

Conditions may be imposed to ensure that the proposed uses will be compatible with and not adversely affect the project environment.

This page is designed to guide you through each step of the process to help make your project a successful one.

Use Permit Guidelines

HOW DO I GET A USE PERMIT?

1. Project Consideration

Carefully review the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance requirements for the project site. Your proposal must be consistent with both documents. Community and Economic Development Department (CED) staff should be consulted about your project and the conditions that may be imposed if your request is approved.

2. Staff Preliminary Review Team

Submit a preliminary proposal to the CED Preliminary Review Team (PRT) prior to the formal application. This allows staff to review your request and provide useful information that may save time and expensive revisions later in the process. The City's PRT meets weekly and is intended to provide feedback on preliminary requests. PRT is a cursory review, not a comprehensive analysis of the project.

3. Filing Fee

You must file an initial deposit according to the current deposit and rate schedule which will be applied to hours billed by the City for professional time spent processing your request. However, the actual fee may be more or less than the initial deposit. If the charges are less than the deposit, the remainder will be refunded; if more, the balance will be billed to you. You must sign a Statement of Understanding acknowledging the fee structure, along with your formal application.

4. Filing of Application

Submit the completed application, initial deposit, and other required information to the Planning Division of the CED. A staff project planner will be assigned to ensure that all the required information is included with the application, and will guide you through the remaining steps of the process. (See "Application Requirements" below for further details.)

You will be notified within 30 days after filing as to whether the application is complete or what additional information is required.

5. Environmental Review

Nearly all use permit requests require an environmental assessment to determine if it will be necessary to prepare a Negative Declaration, or in more complex situations an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Very small projects may be exempt from environmental review. A copy of Environmental Review Procedures is available in the Community and Economic Development Department. If you have further questions, consult with your planner.

Projects for which a Negative Declaration is prepared must receive a minimum 20-day public review period. This period is intended to allow the public to comment on possible environmental impacts associated with the proposed project.

6. Design Review Commission

During, or after, the environmental review phase, your project may be sent to the Design Review Commission (DRC). The DRC reviews your project for design recommendations to be considered by the Planning Commission.

Approximately 6 weeks after your project application is determined to be complete, the staff project planner summarizes all project information and submits a written report to the DRC, giving recommendations for conditions of approval. A copy of the report is mailed to you prior to the DRC meeting. At the meeting, the staff project planner presents an oral report and recommendations. You may also speak to the DRC at this time. The DRC then comments on the proposal, and recommendations are forwarded to the Planning Commission.

7. Staff Review for Planning Commission

After the DRC has reviewed your project, your application continues to the Planning Commission (PC) for review and action. The staff project planner submits a written report to the PC which describes the development proposal and includes the DRC recommendations as well as staff recommendations. A copy of this report is sent to you prior to the PC hearing on your application.

8. Planning Commission Review

The Planning Commission is required to hold at least one public hearing on your use permit application. At least 10 days prior to the meeting, owners of the property within 300 feet of your site are notified by mail of the forthcoming hearing, and a notice of the public hearing is posted in prominent locations in the vicinity of the site.

At the public hearing, the staff project planner presents an oral report and recommendation. You then present your application, followed by any interested persons who may wish to comment on your proposal. The PC closes the public hearing and makes a decision approving or conditionally approving your request, denying your request, or postponing the decision to a later date.

 

WHO HAS THE FINAL SAY?

The Planning Commission's decision is final, unless an appeal is filed by any person who is affected by the decision. Such persons may appeal by filing an appeal notice with the City Clerk within 10 days following the transmittal date of the Commission's decision. A public hearing will be held before the City Council who will then make the final decision.

HOW LONG DOES THE PROCESS TAKE?

The process time varies according to the complexity of your project. A small project may be processed in as little as two months. However, a large project that requires an EIR can take up to 8 months. The project planner will provide a detailed timeline for you shortly after receiving your application.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

  • Complete and sign application forms.
  • Provide an initial deposit in accordance with the current deposit and rate schedule. Make checks payable to the City of Walnut Creek.
  • Sign and submit a Statement of Understanding acknowledging the City's billing structure.
  • Submit a letter to the Planning Manager describing the proposed project in detail and giving reasons why the use permit application should be granted. Include the nature of the use, type of operation, why the project will benefit or not adversely affect the surrounding neighborhood, and any other pertinent data.
  • Submit the data required for applications sent to the Design Review Commission (see Design Review Guidelines).
  • Provide site photographs showing topography, vegetation and landscaping, existing and adjacent structures.
  • Provide site plans and diagrams no larger than 24" x 36". Plans must be clear, fully dimensioned and scaled as necessary, but data may be combined when feasible. Plans must show the following data:
  • Legend including scale (1" = _ ') and north arrow;
  • Vicinity map indicating nearby cross streets in relation to site (need not be to scale);
  • Exterior boundary lines of the property indicating easements, dimensions and lot size;
  • All adjacent streets or public rights-of-way, including bicycle, equestrian and hiking trails;
  • Location, elevations, size, height, dimensions, materials, colors, and proposed use of all buildings and structures (including walls, fences, signs, lighting and hooding devices) existing and those intended to remain on the site;
  • Distances between all structures and between all property lines or easements and structures;
  • Any nearby buildings which are relevant to this application;
  • All existing trees (as defined in Title 3, Chapter 8 Section 3-8.02, Municipal Code) on the site, giving type and location and any other significant plant material, with a notation as to those that are to be retained and those that are to be removed;
  • Any existing significant natural features such as rock outcroppings, highly protected trees, creeks, knolls, and ridgelines;
  • Location, number of spaces, and dimensions of off-street parking spaces, loading docks, and maneuvering areas, with internal circulation indicated;
  • Pedestrian, vehicular, and service points of ingress and egress, driveway widths, and distances between driveways;
  • Proposed landscaping, including quantity, location, varieties, and container size;
  • Proposed grading plan (for sites having over 5-foot grade differential), showing direction and path of drainage on, through and off the site; indicate any proposed drainage channels or facilities;
  • Required and existing street dedications and improvements, such as sidewalks, curbing and pavement. Indicate widths, radii of curves, street grades and whether streets are public or private; and,
  • Other such data as may be required to permit the Planning Commission to make the required findings for approval of the specific type of application and to permit an environmental review of the application.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

A. Review Site History

Research the site history and obtain aerial photographs from the City. Information regarding past applications on any property which may provide valuable information is available either through the Planning Division or Building Division.

B. Comply with all Zoning Requirements

Review the Zoning Ordinance provisions that pertain to the site. Do not rely solely on oral information given at the counter. Ask for copies of the code provisions and clarification for those items you do not understand.

C. Review the General Plan

Obtain copies of General Plan provisions that pertain to the site. Examine the Floor Area Ratio Map, the Height Map, the Setback Map and the Land Use Descriptions.

D. Use Quality Design Professionals

Use the highest quality design professionals, as this will be the single most important aspect of your project. Architects, engineers and consultants are trained in the development field. The quality of the plans and project presentation reflect on the quality of the application.

E. Respect the Character of the Area

Give thoughtful consideration to the life of the project, the proposed use and its contributions to the community. Remember, a proposed development does not stop at the property lines.

F. Maintain Public Contact

Obtain a copy of the mailing list for your project's public hearing and prepare your own correspondence. You may wish to meet with neighboring property owners to discuss your proposal prior to filing the application.

G. Follow up with Outside Agencies

Initiate direct contact with key people from outside agencies where your project is referred. Many times you can answer questions or provide additional information that will reduce the time it takes to review your project.