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Investing in Oakland
Whether you're building a single-family house, a 10-story office building or a 200-unit housing development, City staff members are here to assist you in every step of your investment in Oakland. Staff within the Building Services and Planning & Zoning sections work closely together to move your proposed building documents through the approval process in a timely fashion, while ensuring the safety of Oaklanders by enforcing the current zoning and building codes.
Specific Plans and Neighborhood/Area Plans
The City of Oakland has recently adopted four Specific Plans including: Broadway Valdez District Specific Plan, Central Estuary Area Plan, Lake Merritt Station Area Plan, and West Oakland Specific Plan. Currently the Coliseum Area Specific Plan is underway with an anticipated adoption in the Spring of 2015. Visit the Specific Plans and Neighborhood/Area Plans webpage for more information on the plans.
The benefits from preparing a specific plan include:
- Creating a level of certainty to both the community and developers by providing a framework to support development and enhancement of existing resources
- Balancing land-use goals with environmental, economic, preservation and quality of life related interests
- Provisions for improved, sustainable infrastructure (utilities, roads, and parks)
- Providing a certified environmental document which will expedite the entitlements process
Mobile Food Vending
Oakland was one of the first cities in the country to create a mobile food vending permit program. A decade later, mobile food vending has grown in popularity and diversity, both locally and nationwide. The City is in the process of revising its regulations to keep up with these changes and increase opportunities for entrepreneurs to start a new food vending business, while protecting the health, safety, comfort, convenience, and general welfare of the community. New interim regulations for Food Vending Group Sites went into effect on January 20, 2012 and remain in until adoption of new permanent regulations. Please see the Mobile Food Vending Regulations web page for more information.
The City of Oakland has launched a parklet program. Currently, the City has three parklets that have been constructed. The City is currently reviewing the second round of applications, stay tuned for an announcement of the sites chosen and their progress. Please see the Parklet Program web page for a map of the existing parklets locations and more information about these innovative new ways to create public spaces.
Routinely ranked among the greenest U.S. cities, Oakland is leading the way to a greener future for all by ensuring that new development meets high green performance standards. The City of Oakland has a long-standing commitment to green building and becoming a more sustainable city. In fall 2010, a comprehensive green building ordinance for private development projects was adopted by City Council that complements the State of California's recently adopted Green Building Code known as CALGreen. This Green Building website will help you understand how Oakland’s green building policies and CALGreen may affect your project, and provide you with the tools and resources necessary to incorporate green building techniques successfully.
Getting Started: Before you Build
Most development projects, ranging from replacing a window, adding on to an existing building—all the way to constructing a new building are required to go through a review and permitting process. The permit process ensures that work is done safely and meets the minimum code requirements, thereby minimizing the risk of hazards such as fires, flood damage and/or structural problems. The permit process includes inspection approval from a certified City inspector. Following zoning and building requirements improves the quality and attractiveness of your neighborhood, which raises property values.
What Permits are Needed?
Consult with Planning and Zoning and/or Building Services staff to check on permit requirements before you start the work to save yourself time and money. You may visit the Permit Center in-person where our knowledgeable staff can determine the types of permits, documents and other project specific information that will be required. All but the most minor work on your house or other structures on your property will require review and permits from the Planning and Zoning and/or the Building Services Divisions of the City of Oakland. Permits from other departments, such as Public Works and the Fire Department may also be required.
The first step for determining how your property can be developed is to review Planning Codes and Zoning Maps, which are available in the Codes, Maps and Document section. The Zoning District for your property will provide guidance on the types of allowable land uses, as well as development standards, such as building height limits, required setbacks, parking regulations and building materials.
After you have received Zoning approval, you may apply for your building permits. City’s building regulations define standards for the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. Part of the permitting process includes a Plan Check where our engineers review your plans for compliance with applicable codes and regulations. Plan check usually takes four to six weeks. Your plans will also be submitted for review by Fires Services which takes one to 10 days.
Once your project plans are approved, all fees are paid and the required permits have been issued, construction can begin. Visit the Construction Hours and Site Requirements page for information on hours, noise, safety and environmental requirements. Building permits are valid for six months. Throughout construction, you will need to call for regular inspections as outlined. Upon passing the final inspection, the inspector will release your utilities and issue a Certificate of Occupancy if warranted.
Active Planning & Zoning Applications
Information about zoning applications currently being considered by the Planning and Building Department (“Applications on File”) can be found on Planning & Zoning's home page.
Arranged by week, the rosters provide details on each application and contact information for the applicant as well as for the case staff planner assigned to the application.
Staff members have compiled a roster of helpful related sites.