Common Projects that Require Zoning Review
Transfer of Business or New Business Location
All businesses in Berkeley must have a business license and prior to issuance of a business license, Planning Department staff must determine that the use is permitted under the Zoning Ordinance in the proposed location. Prior to purchasing, transferring or relocating a business, please check to see whether the business has a Zoning Certificate; if not, you are advised to obtain such a certificate or other land use entitlement prior to purchasing the business or prior to leasing space for the business in a new location. To determine whether the proposed use is allowed, you can check the Zoning Ordinance or speak with a planner at the Permit Service Center. More detailed information about business licenses is available from the Finance Department.
Change of Use
What uses are allowed in a particular location is determined by the Zoning Ordinance. Some types of businesses may only be permitted in certain Zoning Districts. The following business districts in Berkeley have “quotas” for specific types of use: Elmwood, North Shattuck, Solano Avenue, and Telegraph Avenue. For example, in the Elmwood District, there can only be seven quick-service restaurants. Modifications in an existing business to take on new business lines (such as selling take-out beverages at a bakery, or putting in a table in a take-out food establishment) may be considered a “change of use” and be subject to new permit requirements. In West Berkeley , certain uses are “protected” and changes to other uses are either not permitted or permitted with significant restrictions. Please check with the Zoning Counter in the Permit Service Center to determine what permit requirements may apply to a particular use in a particular site.
Prior to investing in plans or drawings for a residential addition to a single family home, please stop by the Zoning Counter in the Permit Service Center to determine what Zoning Ordinance provisions may apply to your property and what level of permit may be required for your proposed project. Additions greater than 600 square feet or no more than 15% of the lot area, which ever is less, are permitted with a Zoning Certificate provided that the project is in full conformance with Zoning Ordinance requirements (related to setback from property lines, parking, etc.). To qualify for a Zoning Certificate, the average height of the proposed addition may not exceed 14 – 16 feet, depending on the Zoning District (see Development Standards Related to Residential Additions for more information). Projects that do not qualify for approval with a Zoning Certificate, require an Administrative Use Permit, notification of neighbors and, if initially granted by the Zoning Officer and appealed, a public hearing before the Zoning Adjustments Board.
The attached document provides more detail about various requirements for residential additions