Frequently Asked Questions
- Where is the Community Development Department?
The Community Development Department is located at 567 El Camino Real inside of City Hall. We are open from 8 am to 5 pm. Monday through Friday including during lunch hours. During these hours we can answer questions, accept applications and plans checks for review, and accept re-submittals and revisions
- What is a nuisance violation?
The Municipal Code defines public nuisances as "conditions and uses that are detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare, that promote blight, or which reduce property values in the city." The Code includes regulations to promote the maintenance of property and enhance the appearance, habitability or occupancy, and safety of all structures in the City.
- How do I report graffiti for removal?
To report graffiti for removal on private property, you can either call the Graffiti Hotline at 650-616-7141 or fill out our online Graffiti Report Form
To report graffiti in the public right-of-way or on public facilities, please contact Public Services at 650-616-7160.
To report graffiti on a State Highway, such as El Camino Real, Skyline Boulevard, or any freeway, please complete the California State Department of Transportation maintenance request form.
- What is a housing code violation?
The California Building Code sets forth the minimum health and safety requirements for the structural strength, means of egress, stability, access to persons with disabilities, sanitation, lighting and ventilation, and energy conservation of residential dwellings. The Housing Code applies to all aspects of construction, alteration, enlargement, replacement, repair, use and occupancy, maintenance, and demolition. Typical housing code violations include:
- Substandard housing
- Broken windows
- Substandard or deteriorated weather protection
- Unsafe driveways or walkways
- How do I report a Code Enforcement complaint?
Code Enforcement addresses issues related to:
- Housing and Building Code Enforcement
- Illegal Dumping
- Nuisances- Overgrown Weeds, Inoperative Vehicles, Lawn parking etc
- Illegal Sign Abatement
You may request Code Enforcement service if you suspect a code violation on private property. To file a complaint:
Fill out an Code Enforcement Complaint Form on the City's website call 650-616-7040.
- Do I need a building permit?
Almost every construction project requires a permit. A Building permit is required for:
- Repairs, conversions, demolitions, changes in occupancy, additions and alterations.
- Plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and structural changes.
- Smaller projects such as roofs, sewer lines, and water heaters.
- Tenant improvements in commercial buildings for any proposed alterations or additions to the interior elements of an existing space which includes building components, electrical, mechanical and plumbing fixtures and equipment.
- Change in the permitted use ("Change in Use") or an increase in the permitted number of occupants ("Occupant Load") is proposed.
- Permanent and temporary signs.
If you're not sure whether you need a permit, contact the Building Division at 650-616-7074. Building is only one of the departments and/or agencies that may be involved in the approval process. Depending on the scope of your project, you may need approvals from other departments and agencies.
- How do I apply for a building permit?
To apply for a tenant improvement permit application, please visit our Community Development Department Customer Service Counter located at 567 El Camino Real.
- What is the typical plan review process and time?
After a Community Development Department Technician verifies that the application package is complete, and you pay the Plan Check Fees, a set of plans/documents will be forwarded to relevant departments for review; Building Safety, Planning, Public Services and Fire. Approval from all departments/divisions is required prior to permit issuance.
The plan check process is then tracked in our Automated Tracking System and the project is assigned a standard turn-around-time. The standard turn-around-time for an initial review is 10 calendar days. The standard turn-around-time for follow-up reviews (rechecks) is 5 calendar days.
- What should I know about starting a new business in San Bruno?
- Consult with a planner at the Community Development Counter to ensure that your proposed business is permitted at a particular location. Once you have determined that your business is permitted at a particular location you will need to obtain a business license form the City of San Bruno.
- You must pay the fees and obtain permits and/or approvals from Planning, Building, Police and/or any other City department before your business can start. Your business must also comply with all federal, state, county and city laws, ordinances and regulations.
- Your business location must be inspected by the necessary city departments before your license is issued and it is open to the general public. In certain circumstances, a prospective business location may not pass the initial inspection which could delay the issuance of your business license.
- What is a business license?
A business license is an annual tax for doing business within the incorporated area of the City of San Bruno. The San Bruno Municipal Code requires that you obtain a registration when you conduct any business activity within the City - even if your business is located outside the city limits or you have a business registration from another city.
- What disability access upgrades are required for my project?
Building Division verifies conformance with applicable Disabled Access requirements related to existing buildings and tenant improvements in existing buildings. Per State law (California Building Standards Code - Title 24), existing buildings and facilities must comply when alterations, additions or repairs are to be made. Verification of compliance includes:
- The area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
- A primary entrance to the building or facility; the path of travel to the area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
- Sanitary facilities serving the area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
- Drinking fountains serving the area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
- Public telephones serving the area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
- Accessible parking and path of travel to accessible entrances.
Small projects (2015 construction valuation up to $147,863) may qualify for an unreasonable hardship exception. Granting an unreasonable hardship exception does not exempt all non-complying features. You still need to spend an amount equal to 20% of the project cost, and only that amount, on making some or all of the non-complying features comply. Existing non-complying features that will cost more than 20% of the project cost to make them comply, or will push the cumulative cost above the 20% limit, may qualify for an exemption. Your plans must show those accessibility features that will be brought to compliance and those existing non-complying features that may qualify for an exemption. For additional information or clarification contact our Chief Building Official at 650-616-7020.
- Do I need a permit to install a business sign?
Yes. Permanent and temporary signs require review and approval prior to issuance of permits and installations. Check with the Planning Division before using or installing any type of sign, flag or banner, even balloons.
- Can I open my business before the site inspection?
No. Your business location must be inspected by the necessary city departments before your license is issued and it is open to the general public. In certain circumstances, a prospective business location may not pass the initial inspection which could delay the issuance of your business license.
- What is a tenant improvement?
When a new business moves into an existing commercial or industrial tenant space, tenant improvements are the proposed interior alterations or additions (both structural and nonstructural). This applies to new buildings after completion of the shell construction or when an existing business changes or modifies its use and/or expands within an existing building.
- What does a tenant improvement application consist of?
A complete tenant improvement permit application package consist of the following:
- A completed tenant improvement permit application.
- Three copies of a Plot/Site Plan showing the general layout of the existing building site, location of the tenant improvement, address, and an accessible path of travel from accessible parking and public transportation to accessible entrance(s).
- Three copies of construction plans and details, including but not limited to; floor plan, exiting plan, California accessibility requirements and details, CALGreen requirements, reflected ceiling plan, framing details, lighting plan, electrical/plumbing/mechanical plans, and other applicable detail sheets.
- Two sets of Title 24 energy compliance documents when changes are proposed to the mechanical system, lighting or building envelope.
- A completed Hazardous Materials Questionnaire (If you answer "Yes" to any of the items in Part II or III, you must obtain approval from the appropriate County office as listed under Part II or III of the Questionnaire.)
- Food service requires County Health Department approval prior to issuance of the building permit.
Apply at County Health Department for their plan review.
Where oil separator/grease interceptors are required, obtain approval from the City's Public Services Department for type/size proposed.
- Do I need a planning permit?
If you are planning to construct a new building, alter an existing building or change the use of a business you may need a planning permit. Common projects that may require planning approval include:
- Construct a new building
- Increase the size or change the exterior appearance of your home or business
- Construct tenant improvements
- Install a sign
- Install a new use or change an existing use
You should contact a city planner to determine what, if any, planning approvals may be necessary for your project. You can speak to a planner at the Planning and Building counter in City Hall or call 650-616-7074 to make an appointment.
- How can I find out the zoning district of a property?
The specific zoning district for every property can be found on the San Bruno Zoning Map. Please contact the Planning Division to confirm the zoning of your property at 650-616-7074.
- How do I obtain a business license from the City?
Starting a new business is an exciting yet complex venture. The City of San Bruno would like to assist you through this process. Each business need is different and not all processes will apply to everyone. Establishing the business may require a number of reviews, completed forms and approvals from not only the City, but from other governmental agencies including the County, State and Federal governments.
Please review the City's booklet, "Starting a Business in San Bruno" to help guide you throughout the process. You and your business are important to us. If you have any questions, we encourage you to give us a call at 650-616-7074.
- How high can my fence be?
A fence may be up to six feet in height in the back yard and side yard (to the rear of the required front yard) of any dwelling. An additional two feet of lattice may be placed on top of a fence or wall, so that the height does not exceed eight feet.
In the front yard of any dwelling, a fence may not exceed three feet in height.
A fence may not be installed within 25-feet of the street corner of a corner lot. The Community Development Director may allow such a fence if it would not create a solid visual barrier or safety hazard within the immediate area. In no case shall a fence, hedge, wall or screen exceed three feet in height when situated within twenty five feet of street corner or corner lot.
- What is a Variance and how do I know if my project qualifies?
A Variance is a permit that allows a landowner to construct a building or open a business without having to comply with the standards required of other landowners in the same zone. In rare instances, the Planning Commission may find that because of special circumstances of the property, such as size, shape, topography, location, or surroundings, the strict application of the zoning ordinance will deprive the property owner of privileges enjoyed by other properties in the vicinity and under similar zone.
The classic example involves a residential lot that is identical in size and shape to surrounding lots, but suffers from the presence of a large, immovable boulder. In this case, a variance waiving ordinary setback requirements may permit the landowner to build a house. However, economic hardship cannot form the basis for a variance.