Property Use Permits

Types of permits:
Municipalities often require different types of permits other than construction permits. These can include Administrative Use Permits (AUP) or Conditional Use permits (CUP). In other cases permits such as temporary use permits or special use permits may be required. The permit names are not important per se and each city may use different terminology for different permit processes.
These types of permits are designed to protect the community from the nuisance of a neighbor using a property for an activity which the area was not intended for. Some generic examples would be a property owner using a residential lot to raise livestock where the noise and smell would affect the neighbors. Another example would be a business owner opening a medical facility in a busy strip mall where ambulance traffic would interfere with normal shopping. Another example would be a property owner building a large billboard which would cast a large shadow over another persons property.In order to prevent these issues many property owners are asked to get a permit as part of the normal process of opening a business or remodeling an existing or new structure.
Normally the city will request this permit when you apply for building permits or when you attempt to file for a business license. The AUP is typically used when the use of the property activity closely matches the intended use of the area. The CUP is typically used when the property activity is not closely related to the intended area’s usage. Of course these are subjective terms and will be dependent on the municipality you are applying within.
Depending on which permit you get there will be several steps to approval. There will be a request from the city for construction plan or layout of the property along with a written description of the use. The city will review this information and may approve your request if they feel the use is appropriate. They may also require a review with the cities planning commission. Often they will contact every property owner within a certain distance and offer them a chance to oppose the usage permit.
This process takes 1-2 months and $2,000.00 – $5,000.00 in fees depending on a variety of factors.
Although I have encountered blatant misuse of the AUP and CUP process by city officials it is within there abilities to handle zoning issues. In some cases I have witnessed cities attempt to prevent someone from using their property as a means of manipulation in an attempt to reduce the properties value so the city can purchase it. As a means to punish someone who offended a city official for commenting on the cities incompetence or corruption. Also as a very sneaky method for bankrupt cities to take additional revenue through unnecessary fees.
Although this seems to be happening more and more these situations are not very common. Usually these permits are required by municipal code and are recognized through California’s constitution.
Constitutional Authority
They are mentioned as well in statutory law.
Statutory Authority
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