What Permits Do I Need?

Because the City of Berkeley is a largely built-out city where what one person does with his/her property can have significant impacts on others, the City regulates most private development and changes in businesses to minimize those impacts and ensure the health, safety and welfare of the community.  The activities that require some permit from the Planning and Development Department include but are not limited to:

  • Construction of a new structure
  • Demolition of a structure
  • Modifications to an existing structure
  • Establishment of a new use of a piece of property
  • Modifications of an existing use
  • Subdivision of property
  • Transfer of business or change in business location
  • Construction in the street and/or modifications to curbs

The Zoning Ordinance determines the type of zoning permit that may be needed, based on the proposed activity.  It is not possible to lay out all of the possible permits that may be needed for any given project.  A sample of project types and permits needed follows:

Residential addition:  Zoning permit (Zoning Certificate or Administrative Use Permit) and Building Permit (plumbing, mechanical, and electrical permits may also be needed, depending on the proposed work).

Change in business location:  Zoning permit (Zoning Certificate or Use Permit), business license (a business license is not a permit but is required to do business in Berkeley ), and confirmation that there is an approved address, including suite number if necessary.


Replace water heater:  Plumbing Permit

Remodel the interior of a commercial space for a new commercial tenant:  Zoning Permit (Zoning Certificate or Use Permit) and Building Permit(s).  Commercial tenant will also need a business license and confirmation that there is an approved address, including suite number if necessary.

Remodel the exterior and interior of an existing commercial building for a new tenant (no expansion of existing building space).  Design Review (usually staff level), Zoning Permit (Zoning Certificate or Use Permit), Building Permit(s), and confirmation that there is an approved address, including suite number if necessary.

Demolish an existing residential building and replace with a new residential building:  Use Permit for demolition and Use Permit for new construction and Building Permit.  If the building is a landmark or structure of merit, proposed demolition would require preparation of an Environmental Impact Report and an Alteration Permit from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.