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|Planning Frequently Asked Questions|
|Planning Services Division FAQs about Zoning and Planning |
|How do I find out the zoning of my property? |
| ||For most zoning and planning inquiries about specific pieces of property in the unincorporated area of Solano County, the key piece of information we need is your Assessor Parcel Number (APN). If you already own the parcel, it is printed on your annual property tax bill or can be obtained from a realtor if you are looking to purchase property. You can also call the Solano County Assessor/Recorder at 707-784-6200 and give them your address and/or the name of the property owner. |
Once you have your APN, you can call the Planning Services Division at 707-784-6765 to discuss your inquiry with the Planner on duty. The Planner on duty can then look up your zoning and can tell you the types of uses that can occur on the property, i.e. necessary setbacks, building heights, etc.
|Can I have a business on my property? |
| ||The Department of Resource Management (707-784-6765) issues BUSINESS LICENSES for businesses located in the unincorporated area of Solano County. (If your business is located within the city limits of one of the cities in Solano County you must contact that city for your business license.) |
Before a business license application can be accepted the applicant must check the zoning of the business site to see if it allows for the proposed use. You can call the Planning Services Division at 707-784-6765 and speak with the Planner on Duty.
The Zoning Ordinance allows some small businesses to operate out of single family residences, provided several conditions can be satisfied relating to client visits, on-site sales, signage, and storage. In this case you will need to fill out a Home Occupation Questionnaire as part of the BUSINESS LICENSE application process which will be reviewed by Planning staff to determine compliance with zoning requirements.
|Where can I find out population and census data? |
| ||Solano County does not maintain or distribute census data. This service is provided by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) as part of an agreement with nine San Francisco Bay Area counties. ABAG has population, demographic, real estate, housing data and maps available on its web site at no charge. ABAG also produces a variety of reports which are available on-line at no charge. |
Population & Census Data
|What land use regulations affect my property? |
| ||The County has adopted community standards in the form of the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance to promote the safety, welfare and orderly development of the County. The construction of any building, and the occupancy or use of that building, must be designed and constructed to meet these community standards. These standards vary depending on what is proposed and where the building is located. The basic questions involved in project review include: |
General Plan: A General Plan is a community's blueprint for future development. It describes the development goals and policies and forms the basis for land use decisions. In addition to goals and policies, the General Plan also contains a Land Use Diagram (map) which designates land areas for specific uses. For example, an area may be designated for low density residential, medium density residential, high density residential, neighborhood/community commercial & office, regional commercial & office, heavy commercial / warehousing, industrial, etc.
- Is the Use Consistent with the General Plan?
- Is the Use Allowed in the Zoning District?
- Is Subdivision of Parcels or Lot Line Adjustment Required?
- Is the Placement of the Building on the Site Consistent with Standards and Architectural Review Guidelines?
Zoning: Zoning districts are established to promote compatible patterns of land use within the zoning jurisdiction of the City and to establish site development regulations and performance standards appropriate to the purposes of each district and their respective uses. The Zoning Maps assign each piece of property to a "zone" which specifies how the land may be used. The Zoning Ordinance establishes uses allowed in each zone and standards that must be met within each zone. If a landowner proposes a use that is not allowed in that zone, a change of zone, or a Rezone, must occur. A Rezone also requires a public hearing and County Board of Supervisors' approval. Once a Rezone is approved, it remains with the land until any future rezones are approved.
Subdivision: A subdivision is the division of any lot, tract, or parcel of land into two or more lots or sites for the purpose of sale or development, whether immediate or future, including re-subdivisions of existing lots in lawfully platted land, or combining two or more lots into the same number or fewer lots with different boundaries.
Tentative Map: A Tentative Map is required whenever a property owner wishes to subdivide a property for sale, lease or financing. The General Plan, Subdivision Ordinance and Zoning Ordinance govern the design of the subdivision. The Tentative Map must be finaled within two years or the map expires. In order to final a map, the conditions of a map must be satisfied. A Map which creates 4 or fewer new parcels is a Parcel Map. A Map which creates more than 4 new parcels is a Subdivision Map. Typical Subdivision Map conditions include, but are not limited to: dedication of Rights of Way (ROW), easements, street improvements, etc. In many cases, landowners are not able to meet the conditions of the tentative map within the specified 2 year time period. The Subdivision Map Act and the County Subdivision Ordinance provides the opportunity to apply for more time to meet these conditions. The approval of a time extension is not automatic. Policies, and standards may have changed since the original approval of the tentative map; the applicant may be asked to accept new conditions to the map. Final Map: When improvement plans have been submitted and approved, and the improvements are either completed or financed through a performance bond or other mechanism, the County approves the final map. The final map must be in "substantial conformance" with the approved tentative map. When all of the conditions of the tentative map have been completed, the map may be recorded and individual parcels created by the map may be sold.
Lot Line Adjustment/Merger: A Lot Line Adjustment/Merger is any relocation of property lines which results in the same number or fewer lots. The Zoning Administrator holds public hearings to review Lot Line Adjustments/Mergers. The approval of Lot Line Adjustments/Mergers does not expire, although a certificate of compliance and recordation is required to complete the process.
Use Permits: Some types of land uses are only allowed with approval of a Use Permit. Some of these uses include churches and schools. The Zoning Ordinance specifies which uses require Use Permit approval. Use Permits may be reviewed by the Planning Commission or the Zoning Administrator, as specified in the Zoning Ordinance. Construction of the approved development must commence, or be extended within one year of the date of approval or the Special Permit expires. If you have a complex question regarding land use permits, please send us a letter describing your proposed project. Application and instruction forms are available on the web site.
Use Permit Instructions
Architectural Review: The scope of the design review will include building materials and architecture, window and door treatment, exterior lighting, signage, and landscaping. Single family developments are reviewed and approved at the staff level. Commercial buildings and other developments are reviewed by the Zoning Administrator or Planning Commission.
Minimum Development Standards for a Permanent Residence
Variance: A Variance is a limited waiver of development standards codified in the Zoning Ordinance. Typically, Variances are considered when the physical characteristics of the property restrict the ability to conform to the development standards established in the Zoning Ordinance; variances are sometimes referred to as "constitutional safety valves". Examples of variances include additional height, reduced setbacks. A variance to allow a non-permitted use is prohibited by state law. Variances may be reviewed by the Planning Commission, as specified in the Zoning Ordinance.
|Can I subdivide my property? |
| ||First, you must check the zoning for your property to determine your minimum parcel size. You must have double the minimum parcel site to subdivide. Please note in rural residential zoning districts you must meet the following conditions: minimum 5-acre parcel size unless you are on public water and each parcel to be created must have 50-feet of frontage on a public road. If you property is zoned agricultural and is in a Williamson Act contract you must also comply with all Williamson Act requirements. |
Williamson Act/Ag Preserves
|Can I re-zone my property so I can subdivide? |
| ||Most properties with agricultural, marsh, and watershed zonings in Solano County are subject to the Orderly Growth Initiative which prohibits re-zonings without a county-wide special election and approval by the voters. Thus re-zoning of these properties is highly unlikely. |
Orderly Growth Initiative
|How do I find out if I'm in the flood plain? |
| ||The Building and Safety Division can answer this question for you. |
Flood Zone Determination
|How do I find out about earthquake faults? |
| ||Earthquake fault zone maps are on file in the Planning Services Division and are available for public review. |
|How can I report a zoning violation? |
| ||The Building and Safety Division handles code violations. You can call in a complaint to 707-784-6765 or fill out a complaint form on the web. |
|What is a site plan? |
| ||A site plan is required for all permit applications. A site plan is a drawing that depicts the intensity, density, height and setbacks of a proposed project to the site itself, along with drainage, landscaping, sidewalk and other site construction issues. Site Plan Requirements, a more detailed list of items that should be on the site plan, as well as a sample map, is available from the County. |
|What are things I need to know about buying rural property? |
| ||Here's some of the advice from Les and Carol Scher authors of the award-winning book, Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country, |
- Remember, the seller's real estate agent works for the seller and does not get paid without making a sale.
- The price and terms are always negotiable.
- Never buy land without a proven source of adequate water, which includes recorded water rights if it is from somebody else's land. Test the water for potability.
- Never buy land without first securing the necessary permits for installing your own sewage disposal system, or insuring that you can hook up to a public sewage system if one is available.
- Be certain of where your boundary lines are located by conducting a survey of the property.
- Don't buy land that does not have deed easement rights from the public road to the property.
- Be sure the zoning will permit you to use your property as you intended to use it.
- Determine the legal status of any uses being made of the property by other person. Investigate any sign of roads, grazing, or the taking of water.
- Review all documents referred to in a preliminary title report or abstract of title. Hire a lawyer to review and interpret these documents if you are unable to do so yourself.
- Avoid partnerships if at all possible.
To find out more about this book and other similar books, check out your local bookstore.