There is no "Uniform Planning Code" regarding the entitlement approvals for projects in Southern California. Every city handles things slightly differently. However, as a general rule, most cities require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a new facility. The CUP process enables the city to consider any sensitive impacts to the surrounding land uses and from the surrounding land use to the proposed facility. Although each CUP process may be unique, typically the City will implement the following process when presented with a new facility or change of use request.



• Zoning: Does the current zoning permit this type of facility?

• Surrounding uses: Are there existing uses surrounding the proposed facility which would be detrimental to the facility such as traffic, air quality, noise, etc.? Are there property owner’s groups that would oppose the facility? Technical studies and public hearings will be part of the process.

• Staff support: Would city staff support such an application? (Not a determining factor, but helpful to know at the outset.) This can also help identify problem areas and/or sites with a fractured history to prepare for public input/response.

• Identify city/agency fees along with the sequence, duration and authority review process.

Conditional Use Permit (CUP) Process

• Pre-application conference with city staff departments 1-3 months prior to submittal

• Completed Application Submittal to include preliminary review questionnaire, financially responsible party, previous CUP approvals, project description and legal description.

• Site plan, elevations, landscaping, conceptual grading plan, phasing and one or more technical studies may be required (traffic and noise study, arborist report, cultural resources assessment: historical, archeological, paleontological; utilities analysis, will serve letters, preliminary geotechnical report).

• Photographs of site and surrounding properties, USGS map, and Assessor’s parcel map.

• Mailing labels for properties within 600 feet of site

• Completed environmental application including a Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 environmental site assessment.

• Application fees

Upon determination of completeness, the project is routed to departments for review and conditions.

• City departmental review: Most cities hold a formal review meeting with representatives from the departments to discuss the project and review the conditions. The applicant may or may not be invited.

• Planning Commission Public Hearing: The public hearing must be noticed to surrounding property owners. The applicant is invited and permitted to address the Commission. The public can also address the Commission regarding their support or opposition to the project. After the public hearing is closed, the Planning Commission will either approve or deny the application. (The can also continue it to another meeting if they feel additional information or research needs to be done.)

• City Council: Some cities require a CUP to be approved by the City Council either as a Consent Calendar item, or a full public hearing review.


Environmental Review

The environmental review typically occurs concurrently with the CUP process and is approved by the same body which issues final approval of the CUP. It is this review which determines the adequacy of the technical studies and identifies appropriate mitigation to potential impacts along with the determination if an environmental impact report (EIR) will be required. In coastal zones, the coastal commission may be required to review/approve the project as well.  

Appeal Period

Upon final decision, there is usually a specified appeal period wherein an appeal can be filed against the decision. The appeal period can be anywhere from 10 to 30 days.