Planning & Building

Who we are and what we do

Business Goals

  • Continue to Enhance Service Delivery: Add and assign staff to meet service demands and achieve key performance indicators.
  • Continue to prepare and implement Council-Approved Plans and Municipal Code Amendments, Neighborhood Plans, and Specific Plans.
  • Initiate an update of the General Plan in 2021.
  • Enhance customer service experience throughout the Planning and Building process by reducing wait time for responses and by providing digital methods for applications and review.
  • Continue to Implement Housing Affordability Initiatives: Prioritize efforts to improve housing affordability, including strategies from the Mayor’s Housing Cabinet, with the following:
    • Adopt new regulations for short-term residential rentals;
    • Adopt new regulations for the conversion of single room occupancies (SROs);
    • Promote construction of accessory dwelling units;
    • Encourage modular construction;
    • Establish a class of “by-right” development projects that do not need discretionary review;
    • Strengthen the permit processing and coordination function in the Building Bureau to assist applicants in obtaining building permits; and
    • Continue to enhance the City’s overall development permitting system.
  • Enhance Code Enforcement and Safety/Anti-Displacement Efforts: Continue to bring non-permitted construction into compliance and enhance Code Enforcement efforts by adding additional inspectors and support staff and coordination with the Fire Department and Housing & Community Development Department.


Bureau of Operations & Administration

The Bureau of Operations & Administration manages the department’s permitting counter and provides department oversight and support services for policy development, human resource planning, operations management and training, accounting, budget development, fiscal and grants management, information technology systems and support, agenda management, records cataloging, archive retrieval and contract administration. This Bureau ensures that the department meets its obligations and complies with federal, state, and local laws including labor and public records laws, financial management, and auditing.

Development Permitting

This departmental function: 1) assists permit applicants, such as builders, property owners, architects, engineers, and realtors in processing appropriate construction permits; 2) collects fees related to buildings and infrastructure; and 3) provides customers with support in interpreting the municipal codes.

Bureau of Planning

The Bureau of Planning develops plans and reviews developments that embrace the three principles of environment, economy and equity for residents, workers, businesses and property owners and that guide the creation of projects, programs and services to improve the physical landscape and economic environment of the Oakland community.

General Plan & Strategic Analysis

This departmental function is responsible for preparing and updating land-use plans, policies and regulations, including the Oakland General Plan, Specific Plans for various neighborhoods, and the zoning regulations.

Zoning & Development Planning

This program provides information to the public on zoning regulations and reviews development applications for proposed land use entitlements. Development applications fall into three main categories: 1) major cases, which are reviewed by the Planning Commission; 2) administrative cases decided by the Zoning Manager after public notice and comments; and 3) small project design review cases decided by staff at the zoning counter. The program also supports the City’s Historic Preservation Program, including maintaining a library/archive and citywide database on historic properties and providing information to the public about historic properties.

Bureau of Building

The Bureau of Building provides services for building-related activities, including Code Enforcement, Inspections, Permits, and Plan Reviews.

Engineering & Architectural Plan Approval

This departmental function assists permit applicants, such as builders, property owners, architects, engineers, and realtors in understanding and processing appropriate construction permits related to buildings and infrastructure with applicable state health and safety codes, regional environmental regulations, and city development and land subdivision ordinances.


This departmental function assures conformance of permitted construction with the California Building, Electrical, Plumbing, and Mechanical Codes, and the Oakland Municipal Code regulating the construction of residential and non-residential buildings and structures, private infrastructure, and earthwork.

Livable Neighborhoood / Code Enforcement Services

This departmental function enforces the California Housing Law and the Oakland Municipal Code regulating the maintenance of buildings and properties.



External Services

Engineering & Architectural Plan Approval

Review plans for code conformance for all on-site developments.

Business Licenses Review

Review business licenses to verify whether the activity conforms to the Planning Code (OMC Title 17).

Planning Code Interpretation

Process determination requests by interpreting the application of the Planning Code to a site or a proposed project, as well as interpreting areas of the Planning Code that may be unclear or contradictory.

Green Building

Ensure project compliance with Green Building requirement, with both a preliminary review at the Planning Entitlement stage and then demonstration of how Green Building methods will be incorporated into each project at the Building Permit stage.

Zoning Map Amendments

Recommend changes to the city zoning map based on General Plan amendments, Specific Plans, and policy changes. Conducts public outreach and brings through public hearing process to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Planning Code Amendments

Recommend changes to the existing Planning Code (Title 17 of the Municipal Code) that includes zoning regulations as well as writing new sections and chapters to the Planning Code based on policy changes, Specific Plan implementation, General Plan Updates, and changes from State Law. Conducts public outreach and brings through public hearing process to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Municipal Code Amendments

Recommend changes to the Municipal Code based on policy changes as well as changes from State Law.

General Plan Amendments

Recommend General Plan Amendments for Land Use changes as part of Zoning Code Amendments and Specific Plan Implementation. Conduct public outreach and bring through public hearing process to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

General Plan Updates

Manage the update of the following General Plan elements: Land Use, Transportation, Safety, Housing, Noise, Open Space, Conservation and Recreation Elements, as well as the creation of the city's first Environmental Justice Element.

Specific Plans

Manage the creation of Specific Plans and Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) that implement the General Plan by providing a special set of development standards applied to a particular geographic area. Specific Plans that have been adopted to date include: Central Estuary, Lake Merritt, Broadway Valdez, West Oakland, and Coliseum. Work is currently underway on the Downtown Specific Plan.

Environmental Impact Reports

Review Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) that analyze possible impacts from Specific Plans and General Plan Updates on the environment.

Development Agreements

Processing and managing regulatory agreements to provide benefits to Oakland in exchange for additional allowances under state Development Agreement law.

Permit Center

Manage intake and review of planning and building applications. Responding to inquiries about the Planning Code and processing over-the-counter permit applications.

Development Permit Inspections

Perform inspection for code conformance for all on-site developments.

Livable Neighborhood Code Enforcement

Perform inspection for code compliance for all building maintenance and on-site activities.

Entitling Projects

Perform internal functions to ensure that development permits for new housing (affordable and market rate), Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), and non-housing projects (Conditional Use Permits, subdivisions, etc.) are processed efficiently in accordance with all local, state and federal laws.

Entitling Applications

Review and process telecommunications permits in accordance with local and federal law and process entitlement applications for large and complex projects that include Planned Unit Developments, rezones, General Plan Amendments, coordination with other jurisdictions and agencies.

Historic Preservation

Maintain inventory and expertise regarding Oakland's historic resources and districts; advise community members regarding preservation objectives and techniques to protect resources, and provide expert review and advice regarding entitlement applications involving historic resource questions and issues.

Boards and Commissions

Staff the bi-weekly Planning Commission and monthly committees (Design Review Committee and others) and monthly Landmark Preservation Advisory Board.

Data Collection

Collect and maintain extensive data about permit applications for the purpose of state- and federal-mandated reports and audits such as Housing Element Annual Progress Report and Annual Survey for Office of Planning and Research.

Cashiering Unit

Manage payments, refunds, and reconciliation for permit fees.

Records Unit

Track and respond to requests for records managed and/or maintained by the Department.

Internal Service

Review and Process California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) & National Environmental Preservation Act (NEPA) Documents

Serve as lead agency on the preparation of CEQA documents for City projects and NEPA documents for City projects requiring federal funding in accordance will all laws.

Digital Division

Maintain the City's enterprise permitting system Accela and other IT assets on behalf of the department.

Departmental Financial & Personnel Management

Manage the internal budgetary, procurement, accounting, hiring, and payroll function of the department.