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Zoning & Development Review
Predevelopment Site Reviews

The Predevelopment Site Review (PDSR) is a service provided by the Santa Cruz County Planning Department for proposals to construct new single-family homes. A PDSR will provide you with definitive information about the zoning and environmental requirements for permitting your specific project. Santa Cruz County's unique physical setting, including the Coastal Zone and widely varying soil, geologic and other environmental conditions, presents a variety of challenges to new development. Many of these issues are addressed in County regulations affecting development. Land use regulations are complex and it is often difficult to determine how they apply until an actual site visit is made by County staff. When this site visit occurs only after complete plans have been drawn and a permit application has been filed, the application of County regulations can trigger costly project revisions and delay the permit process. To address this problem, the PDSR will provide you with several important benefits:

  • Provides you with details about zoning and environmental regulations before you prepare construction drawings and file a permit application.
  • Provides you with certainty about the application process. The requirements enumerated in the PDSR will remain valid and will not be changed for one year (subject to some limitations).

What Does a PDSR Tell Me?

Zoning Information and Requirements:
The PDSR will provide you with detailed information about the zoning requirements for your project, including lot legality, property line setbacks, height limits and other site and design standards. It will also tell you if any special permits are required (such as a Coastal Permit or variance) in addition to your building permit.

Environmental and Technical Information and Requirements:
The PDSR includes a site visit by Environmental Planning staff. Based on the site visit and information available in the office, the PDSR will tell you if a technical report, such as a soils or geologic report, is needed for your project. The PDSR will inform you of any minimum setbacks from protected areas. It will also let you know whether any technical or environmental assessments or permits are needed, such as a biotic assessment, grading permit or an exception to the riparian corridor setback.

Fee Estimate:
The PDSR will estimate capital improvement fees. These fees are used to fund parks, roads and child care facilities. The Planning Department collects these fees at the time of building permit issuance and disperses the funds to the appropriate agencies.

Permit Process Road Map:
The PDSR will tell you exactly what to do next in order to prepare a permit application for your project. It will provide you with a complete list of the technical information and special permits that will be required for your project (if any).

How do I Obtain a PDSR?

PDSRs are obtained by filing an application at the Planning Department's zoning counter. You will need an accurate, scaled site plan for your proposal showing details such as parcel lines, area(s) proposed for development, roads, physical features and generalized topography. The site plan need not be professionally prepared, but does need to be accurate and drawn to scale in order for the Department to provide you with accurate information. If you do not own the property, authorization from the property owner will be required. A fee is also required to cover the cost of preparing the PDSR. You should obtain a full list of application requirements before coming in to file your application. Please contact the Zoning Information line at 831-454-2130 or consult the Zoning Counter during walk-in hours for a complete list of information and the current application fee. The Department is committed to completing the PDSR in a timely manner, typically within three weeks of application.

A PDSR is not required in order to obtain a permit for a single family dwelling, however it is strongly recommended.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

The purpose of the PDSR is to provide you with complete information about the zoning and environmental planning regulations governing your project. However, there are other important regulations which may affect your project. For example:

  • THE PDSR DOES NOT EVALUATE YOUR PROPERTY FOR SEPTIC SYSTEM OR WATER SUPPLY SUITABILITY. You will need to contact the County Environmental Health Services Department at 831-454-2022 for this information. If your project will be served by a municipal water system and/or sewer, you should contact the appropriate water purveyor and sanitation district.
  • THE PDSR DOES NOT ADDRESS THE REQUIREMENTS OF YOUR LOCAL FIRE PROTECTION AGENCY. Road access, fire sprinkler, water supply and other Fire Department requirements may be substantial. Contact your Fire Department early in the design process.
  • THE PDSR DOES NOT ADDRESS THE DRAINAGE AND ROAD PLANNING REQUIREMENTS OF CDI, PUBLIC WORKS DIVISION. Contact the Public Works Division at 831-454-2160 regarding these requirements.

For additional information, please contact the Zoning Information Line at 831-454-2130 or consult the Zoning Counter during walk-in hours.