The County of Ventura uses a Cost Recovery Fee System to cover the actual cost of permit processing. Cost recovery means that the applicant will be billed for the full cost of processing the application, based on actual staff time. “Staff time” includes, but is not limited to, time spent reviewing application materials; responding by phone or correspondence to inquiries from the applicant, the applicant’s representatives, neighbors, and interested parties; attendance and participation at meetings and public hearings; and preparation of staff reports and other correspondence. These costs apply even if the application is eventually withdrawn or not approved.
The hourly rates for planning staff are set annually by the Board of Supervisors and are found in the Planning Division Fee Schedule below.
Please be aware that the deposit fees listed in the Fee Schedule for the various permit types typically cover only a portion of the total processing costs. After the deposit is exhausted, a monthly bill is sent to the applicant requesting payment for staff time spent on the project. In addition, separate fees may be charged by other County agencies (e.g., Environmental Health, Public Works Agency, etc.) for their review of discretionary projects.
Top 12 Ways to Lower Project Review Costs
- Utilize the services of the Development Review Committee (DRC). The DRC consists of staff from various departments (e.g. Fire, Environmental Health, Transportation, etc.) who review discretionary permit applications. The DRC will discuss and provide early guidance to applicants regarding their project. The flat fee is $2000.
- Consider submitting a Presubmittal Review Application prior to investing a significant amount of time and money into a permit application. For a $400 deposit, you will receive a written analysis from the Planning Division on the County policies, regulations, and constraints that may have a major effect on the contemplated project. To be more effective, prior to submitting a Presubmittal Review application, have a specific project or design in mind and bring conceptual drawings and maps when asking questions.
Note: You will be charged for actual time spent on the presubmittal analysis, which may be more or less than $400, depending on the nature of the request.
- Consider hiring a planning professional or consultant to process your permit. A professional who is experienced in the type of permit or entitlement you wish to apply for and who is familiar with County of Ventura regulations may save you considerable time.
- Review our website - particularly all of the Ordinances and General Plan or Area Plans policies that apply to your project site— for the relevant regulations for your proposed project. Click on the following links to access the Coastal and/or Non-Coastal Zoning Ordinances and the General Plan Goals Policies and Programs.
In addition, review our Frequently Asked Questions and Public Information brochures.
For example, if you’re considering constructing a granny flat, search for “accessory dwelling unit” in the applicable Zoning Ordinance for relevant requirements, restrictions, and definitions and read the Public Information brochure on Accessory Dwelling Units. Other popular public information brochures available on our website include:
- What To Ask Before Buying Vacant Land
- General Guidelines for Building a Single Family Dwelling
- How Can I Split My Lot?
- What Is An Illegal Lot?
- What Is A Merger?
- Recording a Parcel Map Waiver
- Check with other County agencies egarding their requirements. The Environmental Health Division, Fire Department, Traffic Department, Watershed Protection District, and Public Works Agency are some of the County agencies that frequently play a role in project review and approval. Depending on the project, each department may have its own associated fees and requirements. Please note that you may need an appointment and detailed project information in order to receive feedback from these other agencies.
- Once you have completed your application, do not make any changes to the project description. Instead, finalize your project description prior to submittal. Applicants often change their project description after the application has already been submitted, and such a change (or changes) can substantially increase the processing time and the amount of staff time spent on the project.
- For commercial or residential projects, reference the Site and Elevation Plan Requirements to verify that all required elements are precisely shown on the plan sets (e.g., location map, title block, building dimensions, legend, physical characteristics, etc.) prepared by your architect.
- When ready, submit a complete and accurate application that follows our application instructions. Although many of our application materials are available on our website, we strongly recommend that you meet with the discretionary Permit Coordinator at the Public Counter before collecting and submitting materials for a discretionary permit application. The Public Counter is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Please note that no money may be taken in after 4:00 p.m.)
- Talk to your neighbors to inform them of your project and make sure they understand it. Public controversy may significantly increase processing time and cost.
- Recognize that time spent by the Case Planner responding to calls, e-mails, or correspondence FROM YOU OR OTHERS concerning your project will be charged to you. These costs may be reduced by implementing the previous suggestions, such as submitting a PreSubmittal application, working closely with the Discretionary Permit Coordinator on your application, hiring a professional, and discussing your project with your neighbors.
- Respond promptly to requests for information from your assigned Case Planner throughout the process.