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
  • 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 2 to 4 months.  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
  • Ensure that all application and zoning requirements are met.

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.

When staff analysis is complete, a Notice of Decision will be posted in three places in the neighborhood, on site, and at the Permit Service Center. Notice will also be mailed to abutting and confronting neighbors. The Notice of Decision, which 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, with a recommendation to either affirm the Zoning Officer’s decision or to set the project for a public hearing.  No verbal public input is taken at this point, although written comments are forwarded to the ZAB. 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, or
  • Set for public hearing at City Council.

The City Council will receive the entire record for the project.  Additional written information may be submitted and will be provided to the Council. However, public testimony is not taken at the meeting when the City Council decides between these options.

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