Projects that don’t require a planning permit

Some projects do not require design review. Here is a list of these exceptions:

  1. Unless regulated by the City Code, interior remodeling of existing buildings where the use of the property, number of rooms eligible for use as a bedroom, and exterior form of the building is unchanged.

  2. Fences and fences in combination with retaining walls as outlined in Zoning Ordinance Sec. 17.32 that are no greater than six feet (6’) in height and not located in a street setback, and retaining walls retaining existing grade that are less than thirty inches (30”) in height.

  3. On-grade or below-grade improvements, including but not limited to walkways, patios and decks under 12 inches in height; irrigation lines and drainage work, unless a variance from minimum landscape coverage is required; or unless the improvement is a patio in the street setback and is not necessary for ingress or egress; or unless the improvement is a new or enlarged driveway or parking pad anywhere on the lot.

  4. Normal repairs, replacement and maintenance of existing construction, so long as there is no change in the materials, design and size of the feature being repaired or replaced.

  5. Minor construction related changes to previously approved plans which are architecturally compatible with approved new construction and existing construction, so long as the prior written approval of all affected neighbors has been obtained by the property owner and provided to the Director.

  6. A satellite dish less than one meter in diameter.

  7. Parking modifications required to conform to state ADA regulations.

  8. A complete change in the exterior wall material from wood siding to cementitious fiber siding with a texture that matches the existing wood siding, so long as there is no change in the siding location, orientation or design.

  9. A change in roof material, provided that the new roof material is not a light or reflective color or surface (unless required to be so under Chapter 5 of the City Code (Piedmont Building Code), henceforth known as the City Building Code) for the following changes:

    • Existing sloped roofs with wood shingles, wood shakes, simulated material, material that is the subject of a recalled product, tar and gravel or other granular material to composition shingles, cap sheet to tar and gravel, provided that all sloped roofs for the entire house and accessory structures will be consistent throughout the property.

    • Existing flat roofs with any material to:

      • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).
      • Closed-cell sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF).
      • Tar and gravel, or other similar material such as modified bitumen with a granular surface, provided that exposed seams are covered with a granular surface.

  10. Flat-profile skylights that project no more than 12 inches from the roof surface and tubular daylighting devices with a maximum 14 inch diameter tube, provided that that the flashing is painted to match the surrounding roof material and that the skylight or device is not on a street-facing roof slope or is located behind a parapet on a flat roof or is otherwise not visible from the street.

  11. Automatic pool and spa covers that are less than 12 inches above adjacent surrounding grade.

  12. Exterior-mounted electric vehicle chargers, provided no electrical conduit leading to the charger is exposed on the exterior wall of the building.

  13. The replacement of a mechanical device, such as an air-conditioning unit or pool filter pump, provided that there is no significant change in size or location and the replacement device meets the sound output limits outlined in the City Building Code.

  14. A new ground-mounted air-conditioning unit, provided that:

    • There is no more than one unit on the property.
    • The unit is not visible from the street and is not located within a required setback.
    • The unit meets the sound output limits outlined in the City Building Code.
    • The footprint of the unit is no more than 10 square feet.
    • No electrical conduit or plumbing is exposed on the exterior wall of the adjacent building.
  15. A maximum of one one-story detached accessory building used as a tool or storage shed, playhouse or similar use, provided the projected floor area does not exceed 120 square feet, it is not located within the setback from a street property line, and is less than 7 feet in height measured from the lowest adjacent grade to the highest roof projection.

  16. New, relocated or replacement electrical panels that are no greater than 400 amps, electric meters or alarm boxes, provided that they are not located within the street setback, on the front wall, street-facing side wall, or area of a side wall containing the front door; and such meters, boxes, panels, exposed lines, and exposed conduit are painted to match the structure color.

  17. New or relocated gas meters, provided that they are not located on a street-facing wall setback or are otherwise screened from street view.

  18. The complete demolition and/or removal of:

    • Outdoor features including fences, site features, pools, decks, patios, awnings, greenhouses, storage sheds, solar panels and equipment, and exterior lighting not required by the City Building Code;

    • Non-original decorative architectural elements such as shutters and flower boxes; or

    • Exterior architectural elements including chimneys, skylights, vents, chases, stacks, antennae, satellite dishes and conduit, provided that the area is patched and painted to match the adjacent wall, eave, or roof material.

  19. The installation of downward-directed low voltage path lights and stair lights, and downward-directed wall lights required by the City Building Code of a maximum 800 lumens or equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb, that have an opaque or translucent shade that completely covers the light bulb, so long as all electrical conduit to new exterior wall fixtures is concealed within the wall.

  20. The construction of mailboxes, driveway gate key pads and non-structural decorative elements such as flower boxes, house numbers and mail-slots.

  21. New or relocated non-structural portable barbeques, fire pits, fire tables, bird baths and fountains that do not require hard-wired electricity, or plumbing for gas or water.

  22. New or relocated wood or metal gutters and downspouts that are painted to match the existing structure or trim color, and new or relocated unpainted copper gutters and downspouts.

  23. New or relocated low-profile flues, vents and spark arrestors that are mounted on the wall or roof, not including wall-mounted plumbing lines or stacks, that have no exterior fans or blowers, provided that the vents/flues/spark arrestors project less than 12 inches and are painted to match the adjacent wall, roof or chimney color. Roof-mounted attic or ridge vents may be covered in the matching roof material in lieu of painting.

  24. New or relocated crawl space access doors that are not full height, and pet doors, not located on the front wall of a house that are painted to match the house color.

  25. The replacement of existing “domed” skylights with flat-profile skylights, provided that there is no change in size or location.

  26. New or replacement flooring material on decks, balconies, patios, stairs, and entry porches and stairs, provided that the entire surface is replaced.

  27. Small residential rooftop solar energy systems as outlined in the California Solar Rights Act, so long as no variance is needed from setback or building height requirements outlined in the Zoning Ordinance, Article 2.

  28. New chimney tie-downs, seismic bracing, and caps, provided that such bracings and caps are painted to match the structure walls, chimney or roof color.

  29. Chicken coops, bee hives and dog houses, provided that they are not located within a street setback, have a maximum combined footprint of 100 square feet, and have a maximum height of 5 feet measured from lowest adjacent grade.

  30. The replacement of foundations, provided that there are no alterations that would otherwise alter the size, shape or exterior design of the building.

  31. Children’s play equipment, provided that the equipment is not located within the street setback, is not permanently attached to the ground, is no more than 10 feet in height, and the total combined footprint of all play equipment does not exceed 300 square feet. Children’s play equipment includes, but is not limited to: trampolines, swing-sets, play houses, slides, and “monkey” bars.

  32. The replacement of an existing wood window or door with a new window or door made of wood with aluminum or fiberglass exterior cladding, provided that there is no change in the following:

    • The size or location of the window or door.
    • The operation of the window or door.
    • The recess of the window or door from the exterior wall surface.
    • The divided lite pattern (if any), provided that any new divided lites are either true divided lites or 3-dimensional simulated divided lites.
  33. Tankless hot water heaters that are installed within the interior of a building, or within an enclosed alcove on the exterior of a building, provided that the alcove door is flush with the exterior wall and painted to match the surrounding wall material, and all plumbing and electrical lines are not visible on the exterior. Vents for the tankless water heater must not project more than 12 inches from the roof or wall surface.

  34. A bicycle rack on commercial or public properties provided it is not proposed in a required parking space, a walkway, or driveway needed for turn-around and vehicular travel.

  35. Security cameras mounted to the exterior of a residence, provided that the conduits and cables serving the cameras are not external.

  36. Minor modifications to existing features or to prior approvals that otherwise are not regulated by the City Code Zoning Ordinance, subject to the approval of the Director.

Source: Piedmont Design Guidelines, chapter 2 (Design Review Process)