Phase 2: Project Site ResearchGather important information about your project site, regulations that may apply to your project, and potential site constraints.
All land use and development is regulated by the Ventura County General Plan, Area Plans, and Zoning Ordinances, as well as other State and local policies. Prior to submitting an application for a ministerial or discretionary permit in Ventura County, you should review the documents and resources below to understand how these land use regulations may affect your proposed project site.
Assessor’s Parcel Number
All permit applications require at least a 10-digit Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN). Sometimes multiple APNs are required, when the legal lot(s) that comprises the project site contains more than one APN or portion(s) of an APN(s). The APN(s) associated with your parcel can be found on your annual property tax assessment or you can find the APN by clicking here. Once you know your APN(s), you can look up the zoning designation of your proposed project site and/or request an assessor’s parcel map from the County Tax Assessor’s office to determine any easements, etc. that may exist on the site. Some County departments use addresses to locate information about your property in their databases; other departments (including the Planning Division) use the APN number as a starting point for researching information about your site.
HELPFUL TIP: An APN is a number assigned by the County Tax Assessor for tax purposes only. This number is used to identify the property using a numbering system that includes the map, book and page number of the parcel. When looking at an Assessor’s Parcel map, the property boundaries on an Assessor’s Parcel map should never be confused with those of a legal lot. Additionally, you should also keep in mind that an APN may contain multiple lots or portion of lots. Often, multiple APNs comprise one legal lot. It’s also possible for a parcel to have an APN assigned by the Tax Assessor for a lot that is not legal. To determine the boundaries of a legal lot or legal lot status, contact the Planning Division.
Legal Lot Status
Another important first step is to determine whether the parcel on which you propose a new use or structure is a legal lot. The State Subdivision Map Act and Ventura County Zoning Ordinances prohibit the issuance of any permits or other planning entitlements on lots that are illegally subdivided. Therefore, prior to the issuance of a permit or other entitlement, the County must determine whether the applicant’s lot is legally created. As noted above, the assignment of a tax assessor number and the payment of property taxes does not assure that the parcel is legal. For example, the legality of a lot may be affected by the way the lot was created (deed, lease, map, etc). The unincorporated area of Ventura County contains a considerable number of suspected illegal lots that have been bought and sold over the years.
County staff at the Planning counter can provide information on whether the parcel in question is known to be legal, may be illegal, or provide assistance when not enough information is known to make a determination on the legal lot status.
The County’s Public Works Agency Surveyor Division issues Certificates of Compliance for legal lots during the legal lot application process. More information on this program can be obtained by calling (805) 654-2067 or referencing the County Surveyor webpage using the above navigation "County One-Stop Departments". In addition, the Planning Division offers preliminary Legal Lot Determinations for lots where it’s unclear whether the lot may be illegal. Information on this program can be found on the Planning Division website,
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, Hazards, Land Use, and Public Facilities and Services. State law requires that all proposed projects adhere to the policies adopted in the General Plan.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Now that you have completed the research and are aware of some of the County regulations that apply to your proposed project, you may have further questions about the information to be included in your permit application. Please click on “Phase 3” to learn more about the pre-application review process and how it can assist you in preparing for your application.