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Depending on the scope of your project, you may need to obtain permits from more than one Town department. For example, requesting an exterior alteration to your home requires review and approval by both the Planning and Building Divisions of the Community Development Department. Permission to work in the public right-of-way requires an Encroachment Permit issued by the Department of Public Works. 

Understanding What's Allowed

Permits are required in Tiburon to perform construction activities, operate businesses, and make certain adjustments to your property. The Planning Division is often the first level of review required in the permitting process, and Planning Division staff is available to help guide you through the process. Please contact Planning Division staff at Town Hall early in your planning process (Staff Directory).

Thresholds for Planning Division Review (Site Plan and Architectural Review or "Design Review")

While designing your project, you may find you will require additional Planning Division approval prior to applying for your building permit. Design Review approval by the Planning Division is generally required for the following projects:

  • Any addition or exterior remodel of your property
  • All new homes
  • All accessory structures
  • Fences or retaining walls higher than 3 feet and/or outside of your property setbacks
  • For commercial sites, change of use or any signage
  • Tree alterations or removals

Please note the information contained in this page is not an exhaustive list of projects that require Design Review. All applicants are encouraged to contact the Planning Division to check if your project needs a permit or review. 

Design Review Application

If your project requires Design Review, please contact Planning Division staff to determine the various approvals that may be needed for your project, such as Variances, legislative body review, conditional use, and/or environmental review. 

After you have submitted a complete application to the Planning Division, staff will evaluate the level of formal review required for approval. The hearing body is determined by the scope of your project. Generally, the following guidelines apply:

  • Staff Approval ("Staff-Level"): Minor additions less than 500 square feet, tree permits, certain signage, fences within property setbacks, minor aesthetic updates
  • Design Review Board: New homes, major additions larger than 500 square feet, or any requested Variance (regardless of square footage)
  • Planning Commission: Conditional Use Permits, updates to commercial properties
  • Town Council: Subdivisions or Major Developments, and appeals of decisions made at the Design Review Board or Planning Commission level

If your project only requires staff-level approval, once your application is deemed complete, staff will mail notice to the neighbors with 100 feet of your property and provide those affected the opportunity to comment on the project. If your project is approved, staff will send you an approval letter and conditions of approval, if applicable. No public hearing is required. 

If your project requires Design Review Board or Planning Commission approval, once your application is deemed complete, staff will schedule your application for a public hearing. Project plans, the staff report, and other materials are made available to the public. Properties within 300 feet are mailed written notice about the proposed project and hearing date(s). 

For all projects, there is a 10-day appeal period for any approval. If no appeals are filed within the appeal period, you may proceed to the Building Division to apply for a building permit. Design Review approvals expire three years from the date of the approval. 

Building Permits

The Town of Tiburon adopts and issues building permits in line with the California Building Code (see Tiburon Municipal Code Chapter 13). With few exceptions, building permits are required for all construction involving electrical, mechanical, plumbing, reroofing or drainage work; for all fences or walls; and for all window replacements, kitchen or bath remodels, storage sheds, and so on. Generally, only cosmetic improvements (such as interior painting, flooring, carpeting, and wallpapering) are exempt from permit requirements (Do I Need a Permit?). A Stop Work Order and fines may be issued for any work started without the necessary permits. 

The building permit process process involves continuous coordination with the applicant to satisfy Building Code requirements. Once the plan check process is finalized, if approved, a building permit will be issued for your project. Building permits expire eighteen (18) months after issuance. 

Any project that has received Design Review must substantially conform to the approved plans. Substantial modifications to the plans or scope of work may result in additional design review and/or planning approvals. 

Construction & Inspections

The Building Division does plan inspections to ensure your project meets the specifications established in your approved plans based on the California Building Code. 

A project must be granted a building permit prior to any demolition or construction. A project is not deemed complete until it has undergone final inspection.