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The maximum height of a fence is seven feet. The maximum height of a retaining wall is three feet. Maximum combination of a fence and retaining wall is seven feet total but the wall may not exceed three feet. If these criteria are met, then the fence and retaining wall may be placed within the required setbacks. Generally, fences and retaining walls that meet these criteria do not require planning approval and permits are not needed.
The Tree Protection and Preservation Ordinance (Chapter 816-6) defines a protected tree. A tree is either protected or not protected based on its characteristics (e.g. trunk size, species) and the characteristics of the property on which it is located. The Ordinance requires that the property owner obtain a tree permit from the county before trenching, grading or filling within the dripline of any protected tree or before cutting down, destroying, trimming by topping or removal of any protected tree.
A Home Occupation is a business activity that is conducted at a residential dwelling by a person residing in the dwelling and is a secondary and incidental use of the dwelling as a residence.
No Home Occupation may be conducted at a residential dwelling unless a home occupation permit or a land use permit has been issued.
What type of structures and uses are allowed on individual properties depends on what zoning district the property is located in. If the site is located in the unincorporated area, planning staff can determine the zoning district upon request if you visit the Application & Permit Center or call 925-655-2700 Before visiting or calling, make sure you have the specific Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN), also referred to as the Property Tax Number, or address for the site.
Copies of official parcel maps can be obtained directly from the Assessor’s Office located at 2530 Arnold Drive, Suite 100 in Martinez; for their office hours and current fees call 925-313-7400. Application & Permit Center staff at 30 Muir Road in Martinez can also provide copies of maps from the parcel books created by the Assessor’s Office (fees apply).
According to the code the following is exempt from needing permits: One-story detached accessory buildings used as tool and storage sheds, playhouses, and similar uses provided the floor area does not exceed 120 square feet. Unless specifically exempt, anything else will need permits. Any potentially unique situations should be referred to Building Inspection or Planning at 925-655-2700 for a definitive answer.
The length of the permit process depends on the type of application, project, and situation. Generally, the County’s building plan check process takes two to four weeks. Many projects also have to go through local planning application or process as well. Applicants should visit the Application & Permit Center or call 925-655-2700 to discuss their project in more detail.
First, contact the respective agencies providing services to your area (PG&E, Contra Costa Water District, EBMUD, Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, etc.). Second, consider contacting USA (Underground Services Alert) at 800-227-6000 before beginning any work so that they can mark all lines that lie on your property.
Green building is a “Whole-Systems” approach for designing and constructing buildings that conserve energy, water, and material resources and are healthier, safer, and more comfortable. Questions regarding green building can be submitted on-line or call (888) 40-GREEN to “Ask an Expert”.
A permit is required whenever any structural, plumbing, mechanical or electrical work is to be performed. If you are unsure please feel free to contact us for help at 925-655-2700.