The Planning Division’s One-Stop Permitting website provides easy access to key documents and resources for navigating the Planning Division’s discretionary permit process. The Planning Division provides land use services to the public in the areas of residential, commercial, and industrial permitting, engages in long range community planning, enforces conditions of approval on projects and coordinates a variety of regional programs in the unincorporated areas of Ventura County. To navigate this page, click on any of the links on the left-hand side: Forms, Brochures, Guidelines/Standards, Ordinances, Policies, Fees, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

The Forms section contains applications and information on submittal requirements for projects that require discretionary review. The Brochures section provides links to informational brochures on various subject areas that may be useful to you. The Guidelines/Standards, Ordinances, and Policies sections show all of the documents and resources that guide land-use and development in unincorporated areas of Ventura County, which are also used by Planning Division staff and County decision-making authorities to review your project. The Fees section lists all of the fees that may apply to various permit types. Finally, you can review answers to commonly asked questions regarding the Planning Division’s role and responsibilities during the discretionary review process in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section.

To learn more about the Planning Division and its programs, please visit our main website by clicking here.


Forms

The forms below are part of the Planning Division’s discretionary permit process. All discretionary permit applications are separated into four sections based on the project type: general discretionary permit applications, modifications to existing discretionary permit applications, subdivisions, and appeals. For each application a brief description is provided to assist you.

Please note that all applications for discretionary permits, subdivisions, and zone changes must be coordinated with, and submitted to, the Discretionary Permit Coordinator in the Planning Division. The Planning Division requires all potential discretionary permit applicants to schedule a pre-application meeting with the Discretionary Permit Coordinator. To learn more about this process and/or to schedule a pre-application meeting, please click here.

HELPFUL TIP: Click here for an instructional manual on downloading, saving, and printing Adobe pdf applications.

General Discretionary Permit Applications

For all residential, commercial, and industrial projects that require discretionary review, please review the materials below.

  • Change of Use Application
    A change of use permit is required when a change in the designated use or a change in the occupancy occurs on an entire parcel of land or a unit within a multi-tenant building. Allowable uses for each zoning district are outlined in the County’s Non-Coastal pdf icon and Coastal Zoning Ordinances pdf icon.

    Click on the link above to obtain more information about the change of use permit application.

  • Commercial and Industrial Permit Application
    Ventura County’s zoning map includes designated commercial and industrial areas in the unincorporated areas of the County. Commercial zones provide areas for a wide range of commercial retail and business uses, including stores, shops, and offices supplying commodities or performing services for the surrounding community. Industrial zones provide suitable areas of development for a broad range of general manufacturing, processing and fabrication activities, while providing appropriate safeguards for adjoining industrial sites, nearby non-industrial properties and the surrounding community.

    If your project includes any of the above mentioned uses, please click on the link above for more information about the commercial and industrial permit application.

  • Discretionary Permit Application pdf icon
    This is a comprehensive application form for discretionary permits, subdivisions, and zone changes.

  • Development Review Committee Pre-Application Review pdf icon
    The Development Review Committee (DRC) consists of key County staff in various departments who review discretionary permit applications and provide early guidance to applicants on projects before project submittal. This is particularly useful for complex projects with multiagency review. During your pre-application meeting with the Discretionary Permit Coordinator, you may be advised to schedule a DRC meeting. If so, please fill out this form. Click here for more information about the DRC.

  • Mining Permit Application
    In accordance with the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 (SMARA), Ventura County requires each mining operation to have a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), which contains detailed operating requirements and a reclamation plan to be implemented once mining has ceased. Click on the link above for more information about the surface mining permit application process.

  • Oil & Gas Project Permit Application
    According to federal, state, and local laws, Ventura County requires each on-shore and off-shore oil and gas operation to have a conditional use permit (CUP), which contains detailed operating requirements and an exploration plan (EP) that discusses the potential effects of the activity with respect to the environment and how any impacts will be mitigated. Click on the link above for more information about the oil and gas permit application process.

  • Housing Development Application
    According to federal, state, and local laws, Ventura County requires each on-shore and off-shore oil and gas operation to have a conditional use permit (CUP), which contains detailed operating requirements and an exploration plan (EP) that discusses the potential effects of the activity with respect to the environment and how any impacts will be mitigated. Click on the link above for more information about the oil and gas permit application process.

  • Variance Application
    A variance is a minor exception to local zoning requirements. Variances are intended to resolve practical difficulties created when the literal enforcement of the zoning requirements would result in unnecessary, physical hardships resulting from the following: (1) the size, shape, or dimensions of a site, (2) the location of existing structures on the site, or (3) geographic, topographic, or other physical conditions on the site.
    Please note that financial and/or economic hardships are not sufficient grounds for a variance. To learn more about a variance permit application process, click on the link above.

  • Wireless Communication Facilities Permit Application
    A wireless communication facility is characterized as a use that is the local point of interface between a wireless phone device and a wireless network. Click on the link above for more information about Wireless Communication Facility permit applications.

Modifications to Existing Discretionary Permit Applications

Any changes to an approved discretionary permit also constitute a discretionary decision and typically falls into one of the following three categories:

  • Permit Adjustment Application (Non-Coastal Zone)/ Site Plan Adjustment (Coastal Zone)
    Very minor modifications that will not alter any of the findings in the approved discretionary permit, including the environmental document, and will not have any adverse impact on surrounding properties can be reviewed and approved by the Planning Director without a hearing. There is one application that can be used for both permit adjustment and site plan adjustment. Nevertheless, all site plan adjustment applications, which are for projects located in the coastal area, will require additional review and approval from the Coastal Commission. Click on the link above for more information about site plan adjustment and/or permit adjustment applications.

  • Minor Modification Application
    Any modification that exceeds the criteria of a site plan adjustment or permit adjustment, but is not extensive enough to be considered a substantial or fundamental change in the land use and the findings in the environmental document of the approved permit, can be approved by the Planning Director through a public hearing process. Click on the link above for more information about the minor modification application.

  • Major Modification Application
    Any modification that is considered to be a substantial change in land use relative to the approved permit, and/or would alter the findings in the environmental document, will require a major modification permit and must be reviewed by the decision-making authority that approved the original permit.

To determine which modification application you need for your proposed revisions, please schedule a pre-application meeting with the Permit Coordinator. To learn more about this process and/or to schedule a pre-application meeting, please click here.

Subdivisions

A subdivision or lot split is the legal division of any lot into two or more lots, for the purpose of sale, lease or financing, now or in the future. There are several types of subdivisions, all of which require discretionary review and approval. Subdivision projects that are exempt from discretionary review can be found in Section 8201-4 of the Ventura County Subdivision Ordinance.

To learn more about the various subdivision permit applications, please review the information below.

  • Parcel Map Application
    For subdivisions that create fewer than five parcels, a parcel map is authorized under California’s Subdivision Map Act. To review the parcel map application process, please click on the link above. Also, please review the parcel map waiver information below to determine if your project qualifies for a waiver.

  • Parcel Map Waiver Application
    For subdivisions that create fewer than five parcels, a parcel map is authorized under California’s Subdivision Map Act. Parcel maps can be waived pursuant to Ventura County Subdivision Ordinance Section 8202-3. Before a parcel map can be waived, the County must review the project. The County processes six different types of parcel map waivers, each with their own distinct and often complex exemption criteria: Ministerial Lot Line Adjustment, Discretionary Lot Line Adjustment, Ministerial Voluntary Merger, Discretionary Voluntary Merger, Conservation Subdivision, and Large Lot Subdivision.

    Click on the link above for more information about the parcel map waiver application.

  • Tract Map Application
    For subdivisions that create five or more residential lots, applicants are required to submit a tract map application. Applicants must meet minimum lot size requirements and appropriate land uses as specified by the County’s Non-Coastal pdf icon and Coastal Zoning Ordinances, pdf icon as well as the County’s General Plan and Areas Plans. To review the tract map application, please click on the link above.

Appeals

Following approval of a project by the Planning Director or Planning Commission, a 10-day appeal period commences during which time any interested party may appeal the decision before it becomes effective.  Coastal projects within the appeals jurisdiction require an additional appeal period before becoming effective.  Board of Supervisors decisions are not appealable unless the project site is located within the appeals jurisdiction of the coastal zone.  Projects located within the coastal appeals jurisdiction are appealable to the Coastal Commission.

Appeals are processed in the same manner as other discretionary application requests as set forth in Article 11 of the Coastal and Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance. For more information about the appeal process, please click on the link here.


Brochures

The Planning Division has public brochures in various subject areas that may be helpful to you during the discretionary permit process. To access these public brochures, please click here.


Guidelines & Standards

Ventura County Administrative Supplement to CEQA

All discretionary projects are subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The purpose of CEQA is to inform decision-makers and the public about potential environmental effects of a proposed project, to identify the ways that environmental damage can be avoided or significantly reduced, and to prevent significant, avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes to a project through the use of alternatives or mitigation measures. Ventura County adopted an administrative supplement to CEQA that incorporates and outlines CEQA standards in conjunction with County discretionary permitting practices. Click here pdf icon to review the Ventura County Administrative Supplement to CEQA.

To learn more about the CEQA process, click here to view Phase 6 of the permitting guide.

Ventura County Initial Study Assessment Guidelines

If a project is not exempt from environmental review as specified under CEQA, then the Case Planner will conduct an Initial Study Assessment to determine the appropriate environmental document for your project. To learn more about the information and methodology of the Initial Study process, click here pdf icon.


Laws/Ordinances

Zoning Ordinances

The Ventura County Planning Division uses two zoning ordinances when reviewing new development: the Coastal Zoning Ordinance (for structures and uses within the coastal zone) and the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance (for structures and uses outside of the coastal zone). The Coastal or the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance will apply to your project based on the location of the project site. To determine if your project site is located in a coastal or non-coastal zone, review the map by using the zoom function.

Both Zoning Ordinances govern the use of one’s property. The range of uses and structures allowed differ from zone to zone. You can determine the zoning designation for your proposed project site by clicking here. With this information, you can look up the zoning designation in the appropriate Zoning Ordinance (Coastal or Non-Coastal), and determine the permitted uses and development standards that apply.

HELPFUL TIP: Both the Coastal and Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinances contain use matrices that briefly outline which uses are permitted in each zone and what type of approval and permit is required. The use matrices are found in Article 4 and Article 5 of the Coastal and Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinances, respectively. Please note that some of the land uses found in the matrices may require additional licenses and permitting based on the scope of the proposed project. The Planning Division advises all applicants to seek assistance through the pre-application review process, which is outlined in Phase 3 of the One-Stop permitting guide.

Subdivision Ordinance

All proposed subdivisions of land, which include but are not limited to tentative parcel and tentative final maps, reversions to acreage, parcel map waivers, or mergers of land wholly or partially located within unincorporated Ventura County, must abide by the State Subdivision Map Act and the Ventura County Subdivision Ordinance pdf icon. The County Subdivision Ordinance’s policies regulate the lot design and improvements of a proposed project to a subdivision of land.

General Plan

Ventura County’s General Plan outlines the goals, policies, and programs intended to be the vision for future growth and land uses. The Ventura County General Plan is separated into four appendices: Resources, pdf icon Hazards, pdf icon Land Use, pdf icon and Public Facilities and Services pdf icon . State law requires that all proposed projects adhere to the policies adopted in the General Plan.

Area Plans

In addition to the General Plan, there are a number of Area Plans in Ventura County that specify the distribution, location, types, and intensity of land uses within a prescribed area. Like the General Plan, Area Plans detail specific policies governing development in that region. Depending on where your proposed project site is located, any one of the Area Plans below may apply:

  • Coastal Area Plan
  • El Rio/Del Norte
  • North Ventura Ave
  • Oak Park
  • Ojai Valley
  • Piru
  • Saticoy
  • Thousand Oaks
  • Lake Sherwood/Hidden Valley

To determine whether your site is located within one of the Area Plan areas above, click on this map and use the zoom function. If your site is located in one of these Area Plan areas, go to the Planning Division website to review the specific goals, policies, and programs unique to this area.

Other Ventura County Ordinances

There are a host of other ordinances from the Ventura County that may apply to a given project. Some of these are listed on the Planning Division website and can be found here.


Policies

The Planning Division adheres to all land use and development policies and standards set forth by the Coastal and Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinances, Subdivision Ordinance, General Plan and Area Plans, as well as other local, State, and federal laws. Please refer to the Guidelines/Standards pdf icon and Laws/Ordinances pages for more information.


Fees

The time and costs associated with processing a discretionary permit with the Planning Division varies widely depending on the type of entitlement being applied for and the complexity of the project. The Planning Division has provided a comprehensive fee schedule that outlines the billing policies and procedures, as well as the various fees for processing various entitlements. You can review the Planning Division’s fee schedule by clicking here.

HELPFUL TIP: The Planning Division has also created a helpful list on ways to reduce permitting costs. To review this list, click here.


FAQs

General Questions

What is a Zoning Ordinance?

The Ventura County Planning Division uses two zoning ordinances when reviewing new development: the Coastal pdf iconand the Non-Coastal pdf icon . The Coastal or the Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance will apply to your project, based on the location of the project site. To determine if your project site is located in a coastal or non-coastal zone, review the map pdf icon by using the zoom function.

Both Zoning Ordinances govern the use of one’s property. The range of uses and structures allowed differ from zone to zone. You can determine the zoning designation for your proposed project site by clicking here. With this information, you can look up the zoning designation in the appropriate Zoning Ordinance (Coastal or Non-Coastal), and determine the permitted uses and development standards that apply .

What is a Subdivision Ordinance?

All proposed subdivisions of land, which include but are not limited to tentative parcel and tentative final maps, reversions to acreage, parcel map waivers, or mergers of land wholly or partially located within unincorporated Ventura County, must abide by the State Subdivision Map Act and the Ventura County Subdivision Ordinance. The County Subdivision Ordinance’s policies regulate the lot design and improvements of a proposed project to a subdivision of land.

How much will the discretionary permit application process cost?

The time and costs associated with processing a discretionary permit with the Planning Division varies widely depending on the type of entitlement being applied for and the complexity of the project. The Planning Division has provided a comprehensive fee schedule that outlines the billing policies and procedures, as well as the various fees for processing various entitlements. You can access the Planning Division’s fee schedule and other information regarding application review costs by clicking here.

Why is it taking so long for my permit to be processed?

Decisions and public hearings take place most expeditiously if all of the required information is submitted accurately and completely from the start. Application delays normally occur due to incomplete application submittal information and/or changes to the project description. Each subsequent resubmittal to complete the application(s) requires additional staff review time (minimum of 30 days). After the application is declared complete, conditions of approval and, sometimes, staff reports must be prepared. In addition, the State’s environmental review requirements and mandatory public notice periods must be satisfied prior to a public hearing. The public notice period can vary between 20 to 30 days before a completed application may be heard by the appropriate decision-making body. To determine the status of your project, please contact your assigned Case Planner.

Application Submittal

How do I know if my project needs a discretionary permit?

A discretionary permit is a permit or permit modification that requires the exercise of judgment and deliberation on the part of the decision-maker. Most discretionary permit applications require an analysis by the Planning Division and various County departments and agencies, as well as a public hearing prior to any decision being made. Some of the activities that typically require discretionary permits include the following:

  • Tract Maps
  • Parcel Maps
  • Discretionary Parcel Map Waivers
  • Conditional Certificates of Compliance
  • Conditional Use Permits
  • Planned Development Permits
  • Variances
  • Administrative Variances
  • Zone Changes
  • Minor or Major Modifications to any of the permits listed above

To access discretionary permit applications and receive more information about submittal requirements, click here.

How do I begin the discretionary review process for my project?

All applications for discretionary permits, subdivisions, and zone changes must be coordinated with, and submitted to, the Discretionary Permit Coordinator in the Planning Division. During the pre-application meeting, you can discuss the details of your project, obtain a list of submittal requirements for your application, and review procedures for submitting and processing your application. To learn more about and/or schedule a pre-application meeting, please click here.

What is the Discretionary Review Committee (DRC)? How do I know when I need to meet with the DRC?

The County of Ventura has established a Development Review Committee (DRC) consisting of key County staff in various departments (e.g. Fire, Public Works, Traffic, Environmental Health, etc) who meet as needed to discuss, and provide early guidance to applicants on complex discretionary projects prior to permit application submittal.

After you have met with the Discretionary Permit Coordinator, you will be advised whether a DRC meeting is recommended for your project. To learn more about and/or to schedule a DRC meeting, please click here.

CEQA Environmental Review

What is CEQA?

All discretionary projects are subject to review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The purpose of CEQA is to inform decision-makers and the public about potential environmental effects of a proposed project, to identify the ways that environmental damage can be avoided or significantly reduced, and to prevent significant, avoidable damage to the environment by requiring changes to a project through the use of alternatives or mitigation measures. To learn more about the CEQA review process, click here.

What is an Initial Study Assessment?

If your proposed activity is considered a “project” as defined by CEQA and is not exempt, then the Case Planner will begin the environmental review process by conducting an Initial Study.  An Initial Study is prepared by the Case Planner with input from the various reviewing departments, and agencies to determine whether any potentially significant impacts on the environment would result from this project.

To view the Initial Study Checklist that will be used and learn more about Initial Study procedures, you can review the County’s Initial Study Assessment Guidelines by clicking here.

What kind of environmental document is required for my project?

Based on the findings of the Initial Study, the Case Planner will determine the appropriate environmental document for your permit application. There are three types of environmental documents:

  1. Negative Declaration (ND): If the Initial Study determines that the project will not have an impact on the environment, the Case Planner will prepare a Negative Declaration (ND). A ND is a legal statement that either describes the reasons why a proposed project will not have a significant adverse effect on the environment or explains that compliance with specific Federal, State, or County regulations would avoid a significant impact, and thus, an environmental impact report is not required.

  2. Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND): The Case Planner will prepare a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) if the Initial Study review finds that the project has a potentially significant impact on the environment, but can be avoided or reduced through adoptions of mitigation measures.  These mitigation measures can be changes in the project design or operation and must be agreed to by the applicant. An MND further requires that a mitigation monitoring and reporting program be adopted to ensure that applicants follow through on the mitigation measures required by the County.

  3. Environmental Impact Report (EIR): If the Initial Study finds that the project may have a significant impact on the environment and there are no obvious measures that the applicant can take to mitigate potentially significant impacts, an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) will be required.  In many cases, this will be a focused EIR that analyzes a specific subject area or areas, such as traffic impacts, impacts on biological resources, or noise impacts. In order to reduce costs, delays, and duplication in the preparation of environmental documents, County agencies/departments determine whether information provided in a previously prepared EIR (e.g., Master EIR, General Plan EIR, project EIR, etc.) or Mitigated Negative Declaration could be used, in whole or in part, for a proposed project. Use of previously prepared information could be through the subsequent use, or a supplement or addendum to an existing environmental document.

How long is the public review period for my environmental document?

After the appropriate environmental document is drafted, it will be available for public review on the Planning Division’s website .  A legal notice will be placed in the Ventura County Star newspaper , and notices will be posted with the County Clerk , at the Planning Counter, and on the bulletin boards at the exits in the County’s Hall of Administration building. The public review process is an opportunity for individuals in the community to submit comments concerning the project and the environmental document that was prepared. All comments must be submitted to the respective Case Planner by email or in a letter mailed to the Planning Division.

For NDs and MNDs, the public review period is a minimum of 20 days. If the environmental document must be submitted to the State Clearinghouse, the public review period is extended to 30 days. Projects with the following criteria must be submitted to the State Clearinghouse for state agency review: (1) where the lead agency is a state agency, (2) where there is a responsible or trustee state agency, and/or (3) where a State agency is required to review the project because the project has statewide, regional, or area-wide importance.

For EIRs, there are two types of public review:

  1. A Notice of Preparation (NOP) is a brief notice to responsible agencies, trustee agencies, and public or federal agencies that the County plans to prepare an EIR for this project. Although the NOP serves to solicit guidance from various agencies, it also encourages the public to submit concerns and issues early in the EIR drafting process. The NOP review period is a minimum of 30 days.

  2. After the NOP public review process, the Case Planner will draft the EIR. Once the EIR is completed, it will be available for public review. The public review process for the draft EIR is a minimum of 30 days. If the draft EIR must be submitted to the State Clearinghouse, the public review period will be extended to 45 days. Projects with the following criteria must be submitted to the State Clearinghouse for state agency review: (1) where the lead agency is a state agency, (2) where there is a responsible or trustee state agency, and/or (3) where a State agency is required to review the project because it has a statewide, regional, or area-wide importance.

Upon the completion of the public review period, all comments will be reviewed and responses will be drafted by County staff. Based on the comments received, if it is determined that the environmental document must be substantially revised before adoption by the decision makers, the County may have to re-circulate the proposed document for an additional public review period. However, if the comments received do not uncover deficiencies in the impact analysis of the project and the document is deemed complete and accurate by staff, the project will move forward to a public hearing.

Permit Decision

Which decision-making authority will review my project?

Based on the project site’s zoning designation and the permitted use matrices found in the Coastal and Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinances, your project may be approved by the Planning Director, Planning Commission, and/or the Board of Supervisors. The permitted use matrices can be found in Article 4 and Article 5 of the Coastal pdf icon and Non-Coastal pdf icon Zoning Ordinances, respectively. To learn more about the public hearing process, click here.

Can I appeal the decision-maker’s decision on a project ?

Following approval of a project by the Planning Director or Planning Commission, a 10-day appeal period commences during which time any interested party may appeal the decision before it becomes effective. Coastal projects within the appeals jurisdiction require an additional appeal period before becoming effective. Board of Supervisors decisions are not appealable unless the project site is located within the appeals jurisdiction of the coastal zone. Projects located within the appeals jurisdiction are appealable to the Coastal Commission.

Appeals are processed in the same manner as other discretionary application requests as set forth in Article 11 of the Coastal and Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinance. For more information about the appeal process, please click on the link here.


Contacts

All General Planning Questions:
Planning Public Counter
Government Center
Hall of Administration, 3rd Floor
7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
(805) 654-2488
(805) 654-2451

CONTACT
Winston Wright

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Discretionary Permit Coordinator
(805) 654-2468