Administrative Use Permit
What is an Administrative Use Permit?
Administrative Use Permits (AUPs) are required for certain construction projects and uses of property that have greater potential for negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood. The AUP process allows the public to review and comment on these projects, and allows City staff to approve them if they are not detrimental to the neighborhood or inconsistent with the City’s goals and policies for development. A decision on an AUP may be appealed to the Zoning Adjustments Board and ultimately the City Council.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions:
When is an AUP required?
The Zoning Ordinance specifies which projects require an AUP, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Residential additions that exceed the maximum district height limit for additions (14', 16' or 18', depending on Zoning District)
- Residential additions that exceed 600 s.f. or 15% of the lot area
- Habitable residential accessory buildings
- Hot tubs
- Residential fences over 6 ft. tall
- Alterations to portions of a building within a required setback
- New commercial uses occupying more than 2,000 sq. ft. (depending on Zoning District)
- Sidewalk café seating
How are neighbors involved?
Before applying for an AUP in, or adjacent to, a residential zoning district, applicants must give surrounding neighbors an opportunity to review the project plans and indicate any concerns they may have (see "Neighbors' Signatures Instructions"). The purpose of this requirement is to help identify and resolve major concerns early in the process, and alert staff to any unresolved issues. Neighbors are welcome to submit written comments to staff at any point during the process.
What if neighbors oppose a project?
Whenever possible, staff encourages applicants and neighbors to work together to resolve outstanding concerns. East Bay Community Mediation provides free mediation for AUPs, and in many cases can help achieve compromise. If there are outstanding concerns staff must determine whether these concerns warrant modification or denial of the project.
How does staff decide whether to approve an AUP?
To approve an AUP, staff must find that the project would not be "detrimental" to neighbors or to the City’s general welfare, and make any other findings required by the Zoning Ordinance. Staff may place conditions on a project if necessary to make the required findings or promote the public welfare.
"Detriment" is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the project type and setting. Staff can provide further guidance during preliminary review as to whether or not a particular project may cause detriment. In general, a project may be considered detrimental if it has the following impacts:
a) Residential areas:
- Substantial loss of direct sunlight or privacy in a dwelling or an adjacent dwelling
- Unreasonable obstruction of a neighbor’s significant view
- Construction that is incompatible with the scale and character of the neighborhood
b) Commercial areas:
- Excessive traffic, noise or odors
- Incompatibility with surrounding businesses
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How do I apply for an AUP?
Applications must be filed in person at the Permit Service Center, and must include all of the applicable requirements listed in the "Zoning Project Submittal Requirements". Minimum requirements include (but are not limited to):
- Application fees (see Fee Schedule)
- Application form with owner's signature
- Signatures from neighbors (for projects in & adjacent to residential zoning district)
- Photo of posted project notice
- Written description of project and how it satisfies the findings required by the Zoning Ordinance
- Site plan, floor plans, and elevations
- Additional information may be required to demonstrate that the project will not have a negative impact on the environment or neighborhood.
How long does it take?
AUP applications that are complete when submitted and do not require environmental review, major revisions or mediation are typically processed in the timeline table listed below. Once an application is filed, applicants can check with the assigned planner to get a more precise time estimate. Applicants can help reduce the time required to process an AUP by doing the following:
- Seeking input fro affected neighbors before finalizing plans
- Bring plans to staff for preliminary review before filing application
- Submit professionally prepared drawings and materials that are internally consistent
- Carefully review the Zoning Project Submittal Requirements and ensure that all application and zoning requirements are met.
AUP Tier 1 - Most complex projects, in or adjacent to a Residential district
- Major Residential Additions over 14 feet in height,
- Residential Additions (any size) over 14 feet in height in the H District
- Accessory Structure (new or alterations) over 12 feet in average height
- Wireless telecommunications projects
AUP Tier 2 & 4
- Intermediately complex projects in or adjacent to a Residential district. Includes those not listed in Tier 1 or 3; &
- Includes other activities (residential or commercial) NOT in or adjacent to a Residential district.
AUP Tier 3 - least complex projects in or adjacent to a Residential district.
- Vertical or horizontal extension of or alteration in non-conforming yards that create less than 200 sf gross floor area
- Fences less than 8 feet in maximum height in setback or at property line
- Vertical extension in non-conforming yard through excavation when no major residential addition is created
- Uncovered parking in rear or side yard
- Hot tubs
- Decks over 14 feet in average height
What is the process?
Acknowledgement of receipt of an application and assignment of a project planner will be mailed to the applicant within one week. Application will be accepted as complete or additional information will be required within 30 days of submittal. The majority of applications submitted are incomplete. The project planner will provide a letter outlining the required materials that are missing. When these materials are submitted, the project planner will again review the application for completeness.
After an application is deemed complete, the staff planner will complete project analysis. Next, a Notice of Decision will be posted in two places in the project vicinity and one on the project site. The Notice of Decision will also be mailed to abutting and confronting neighbors, and in some instances mailed to property owners and residents in a 300 foot radius. The Notice of Decision starts a 20-day appeal period.
What if the AUP is appealed?
If appealed, the project will be placed on a Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) agenda for a public hearing. The ZAB decision (either to uphold the Zoning Officer’s decision or the ZAB approval or denial following a public hearing) can be appealed to the City Council within 14 days of action. The City Council has the following options:
- Affirm ZAB action, or
- Remand to ZAB for reconsideration.
The City Council will receive the entire record for the project. Additional written information may be submitted to the City Clerk and will be provided to the Council.
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