Planning Permit Review Process Discretionary Projects
Applications for development permits requiring approval by the Planning Manager, Development Services Director, Planning Commission, or City Council undergo a comprehensive review process. This process is summarized in stages, as follows:
- Review of City Requirements
- Application Submittal
- Project or Case Planner Assigned
- Determination of Project Completeness
- Environmental Review
- Development Advisory Committee
- Community Workshop
- Project Conditions
- Staff Report
- Decision Maker Hearing
1. Review of City Requirements
All applicants considering a development proposal that requires a discretionary planning permit should begin the process by reviewing appropriate City documents for guidance. Various city requirements will affect the ultimate design and construction of a proposed project. Resources that may assist in the determination of allowable land uses and development proposals include:
- Oxnard 2030 General Plan
- Oxnard Zoning Ordinance*
- Oxnard Coastal Zoning Ordinance
- Landscape Design Standards
- Public Works Master Plans
- Fire Protection Planning Guidelines
* If the project site is located within a Specific Plan area, the particular Specific Plan should also be reviewed.
These documents provide basic information and are not all-inclusive. Each property and each development proposal may have special circumstances that must be considered. For example, a special use permit may be approved for the property, which may impose certain conditions or restrictions on the site, or the proposed use or type of development may only be allowed in certain zone districts within the city.
2. Application Submittal
Applications are accepted by appointment only, and must be filled out completely with applicable application submittal requirements and fees. Applications with missing information or poor quality graphics will not be accepted for filing.
Plans and other required items must clearly, completely, and accurately illustrate, depict, and describe the proposal to city staff. Be sure to refer to the appropriate application submittal requirements to ensure acceptance of your request. Please feel free to call Planning staff with any questions about the requirements or the planning permit process.
3. Project or Case Planner Assigned
New project submittals are assigned to case planners on a weekly basis. The planner will review the submittal and coordinate processing of the request with the applicant through the entire planning and environmental review process. The case planner will apprise the applicant of additional fees, forms, and/or public notice requirements, as necessary. If possible, after project approval, the case planner may also be assigned to review construction submittals and conduct on-site inspections at project build-out.
4. Determination of Project Completeness
Within thirty days of application submittal, the case planner will determine whether the application is complete or incomplete for processing.
If deemed complete, the case planner will request additional sets of complete plans to continue the planning review process.
* If the application package is incomplete, the applicant will be notified of the additional information needed. Incomplete or missing information on drawings and application forms may delay the processing of the application, so it is important to stay in close communication with the assigned case planner.
* If, after the project has been determined to be complete, the proposal is modified or changes from the original application, staff will require re-submittal of the application to clarify the changes. With the re-submittal, the application will be re-evaluated for project completeness.
5. Environmental Review
All development proposals are subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The main objectives of the State CEQA are:
- To disclose to decision makers and the public the significant environmental effects of proposed activities.
- To identify ways to avoid or reduce environmental damage.
- To prevent environmental damage by requiring implementation of feasible alternatives or mitigation measures.
- To disclose to the public reasons for agency approval of projects with significant environmental effects.
- To foster interagency coordination in the review of projects.
- To enhance public participation in the planning process.
After project submittal, the case planner takes the following steps for the State CEQA compliance:
- Preliminary review of a project to determine if it is subject to the State CEQA. If the planner determines that the request is not a “project” or that the project may be “exempt”, then the environmental process stops here. If the project is subject to the State CEQA, the planner considers the next steps.
- Preparation of an Initial Study to determine whether the project may have a significant environmental effect.
- Preparation of a Negative Declaration or Mitigated Negative Declaration if no significant effects will occur, or an Environmental Impact Report if the project may have a significant environmental effect.
The City Council adopted Resolution No. 10,851 (as amended), the city’s the State CEQA implementation procedures, that is consistent with the State requirements. The case planner will advise their applicant of the State CEQA determination, necessary fees, and the anticipated environmental review process.
6. Development Advisory Committee
After an application is determined to be complete for processing, the case planner will schedule the project for discussion by the Development Advisory Committee (DAC). The DAC meets regularly and provides a coordinated review of development proposals with regard to the City Code, goals, policies, and standards. The DAC also assists with environmental review of such proposals in their departmental area of expertise.
The DAC is comprised of the following representatives, forming the core group: Principal Planner, City Engineer, Traffic Engineer, Fire Marshal, Police Officer, Architect, Landscape Architect, and case planner.
As necessary or as requested, additional members may attend the meeting to represent these areas of concern: Redevelopment, Housing, Water/Wastewater, Refuse Services, School Districts, Gold Coast Transit, and the U.S. Post Office.
An applicant’s responsiveness to the DAC’s comments and concerns will help to expedite the project through this step of the planning process. If necessary, DAC members may meet individually with applicants to resolve technical issues. Such meetings should be coordinated with the case planner.
7. Community Workshop
All new development proposals, use requests, and other projects as determined by the Planning Manager must be presented to the neighborhood and public at a Community Workshop. These workshops provide applicants with an opportunity to present nearby property owners, residents, and interested parties of their proposal, and allow the attendees to ask questions and provide input directly to the applicant. No decisions are made at these monthly meetings.
Applicants will mail an agenda for the workshop, prepared by city staff, to property owners within designated neighborhood communities (boundaries determined by the General Plan). Residents and interested parties are informed by on-site notice boards and through the Planning Division webpage.
8. Project Conditions
It is important that applicant’s address concerns and incorporates comments raised by the DAC and at the Community Workshop. Outstanding issues that warrant resolution may be included as conditions of project approval by the decision maker. Standard project conditions generally ensure compliance with the City Code, goals and policies. Additional conditions may be imposed to mitigate potential environmental effects of the project, or to ensure the public’s health, safety, and welfare.
Planning staff strive to maintain positive coordination with the applicant throughout the planning permit process. As such, applicants are provided a preview of recommended conditions before a scheduled decision maker hearing.
9. Staff Report
The case planner has an important role to comprehend all aspects of a proposed project so they can assemble an accurate, concise, and comprehensive staff report for the decision maker. This report must summarize the proposal, analyze pertinent aspects of the City Code and adopted goals and policies, and recommend an action to the decision maker. Adequate information is necessary so that required findings can be made by the decision maker to support their decision on the matter.
10. Decision Maker Hearing
The permit type determines the decision maker. In some situations, the Planning Manager or Development Services Director will be the decision maker. In other cases, the Planning Commission may be the decision maker, or they may be a recommending body. And finally, the City Council may decide on certain permit requests.
In all situations, public notice is given before the scheduled hearing date. Property owners within 300′ and interested parties (and residents within 100′ in the Coastal Zone) receive direct mailings of the hearing. Additional announcement of such hearings is provided by on-site notice boards and through the Planning Division webpage.
Decisions of the Planning Manager, Development Services Director, and Planning Commission can be appealed to a higher reviewing body if filed within 18 days, or 10 working days in the Coastal Zone. Decisions of the City Council are final, except in the Coastal Zone where they can be appealed to the California Coastal Commission within 10 working days.
Once a final decision has been rendered, it is the applicant’s responsibility to comply with all conditions of permit approval in a timely manner.