Other Approvals That May Be Needed for Construction

Grading and Drainage

  • A grading permit is required if proposed construction would involve more than 150 cubic yards of cut or fill grading 5 feet beyond the building foundation, or where cuts or fills exceed 5 feet in vertical height. A drainage permit is required for proposed construction involving 2,000 square feet of new impervious surface. Impervious surfaces include buildings, patios, driveways, and other impenetrable surfaces that would cause rainfall falling onto the surface to run off. Contact Land Development Engineering (LDE) for more information. LDE also reviews Erosion Control Plans, which are required are required to be part of all submittals to the Building Inspection Office.


Roads and Airports

  • All work in the County Road right-of-way requires an encroachment permit; A Provisions Form should be filled out and submitted concurrently. The County Roads and Airports Department also reviews building plans to ensure that construction will not lead to additional runoff into County Roads right-of-way.


Fire Safety

  • The Fire Marshal’s Office has standards for residential construction both for properties where water service is provided by a regulated purveyor and where no water service is available (e.g., parcel served by an on-site groundwater well). These standards cover availability (pressure and duration) for fire protection water supply, alternative methods of protection (e.g., approved automatic fire sprinkler systems), and specifications for driveway and access roads (link to “Standard Details & Specifications – Private Access Roads and Driveways For One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Associated Structures”).
  • The Fire Marshal's Office also reviews plans submitted to the County Planning Office for site approval or use permit for the purpose of setting conditions for development or use. Our office also reviews your final building plans to ensure compliance with these conditions. Plans for administrative permits issued by the Planning Office for public events such as bingo, fairs, festivals, public display of fireworks, concerts, etc. are also reviewed by the Fire Marshal's Office.


Wastewater Treatment

  • On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems (also known as septic systems) are required where a sewer system is not available within 300 feet of the property line. A permit must be obtained from the Department of Environmental Health to construct, reconstruct, or repair an individual on-site sewage disposal system (septic system). Where a property is already connected to a sewer system, proof of sewer connection is required prior to issuance of building a permit. This can be in the form of a sewer service bill or a County of Santa Clara Secured Property Tax Bill showing tax assessment for sewer service.


Geologic Hazard Review

  • Construction projects located in geologic hazard zones (e.g., faults, landslides, liquefaction, compressible soil hazards) require geologic hazard review. A geologic report, prepared and signed by a certified engineering geologist, must be submitted for review by the county geologist prior to issuance of building permits for these properties.


Building Site Approval

  • Building Site Approval is the evaluation process by the Planning Office and various other agencies to determine whether or not, and under what specific conditions, a parcel of land may be improved for residential use. It is required for new residential development (including secondary dwelling units) on unapproved parcels. Additions to dwellings also require site approval if the enclosed floor area (heated and unheated space, including attached garage) is being increased by more than 500 square feet (cumulative, since March 2, 1982).


Design Review

  • Design Review is required for residential construction on properties in any “-d” combining zoning district and on properties within 100 feet of designated scenic roads on lots to which the “-sr” combining district applies.


Tree Preservation and Removal

  • A Tree Removal Permit and replacement mitigation measures are required for removal of any protected tree, on any private or public property in designated areas of the County, including but not limited to “Hillsides” (parcels three acres or less), –d (Design Review) combining district, and any tree within the “-h1” Historic Preservation zoning district for New Almaden.


Environmental Review


Williamson Act or Open Space Easement Compatible Use Determination

  • A Williamson Act Contract or Open Space Easement may exist on the property, which may impact what can be built on the property, but generally allow exemptions such as primary residence or structures for agricultural uses.


  • The pre-screening process is an optional review for property owners, architects, engineers and developers that provides preliminary project evaluation by County agency staff prior to application submittal.
  • Associated Fees for many of the above approvals.

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