Should You Get A Building or Grading Permit?

Standard procedure in doing building or grading projects is to have plans drawn by an engineer or other professional, get a permit from the planning and building department, and have necessary inspections as work is done.

City Codes have provision for administrative fines for work done without permits.

A recent (September 2008) Planning Commission case left residents wondering why bother to get a building permit.

According to the Staff Report and testimony, a property owner installed a retaining wall, graded, imported soil, built a patio, patio cover, and removed trees over successive weekends, without benefit of required permits.

A permit was issued for the patio cover, Several STOP orders were issued, which were ignored.

The patio exceeded the Code hardscape limit, so the property owner had to go before the Planning Commission for that.

Other issues were blockage of a neighbor's view, and violation of conditions of approval for the house, which had just been completed in 2007.

No one was sure how much grading was done.

Instead of having to have his own Site Plan or Grading Plan, City Staff made one for him.

Neighbors objected to the unpermitted work being done, but after a little discussion, the Planning Commission approved everything.

The decision left some residents scratching their heads.

'Let's see, if I grade and/or build without permits, it is faster, easier, and cheaper.

If, by chance, I get caught, as in this case, the Staff will draw my plans, it costs no more than it would have originally, and probably less.'