Do I Need a Permit?

The Town of Tiburon requires permits that may not be typically required in other cities in California. This is due primarily to geologic, topographic, and/or climate conditions on the Tiburon peninsula, in addition to enhanced concerns about view protection, privacy, and aesthetics compared with many other communities. 

The list below outlines a partial list of actions, items or work requiring a permit in the Town of Tiburon. This list is not intended to be comprehensive, but can be used as a helpful guide for getting started on a project in Tiburon. 

Please note that work performed without the required permit is subject to substantial monetary penalties. If you have questions about whether permits are required about any work, please contact the Planning Division at (415)435-7390 or the Building Division at (415)435-7380 prior to beginning work. Individual staff member contact information may be found in the Staff Directory. 

  • Exterior alterations: Site Plan and Architectural Review ("design review") is required for any physical exterior alteration to a building or structure that requires a building permit
  • Construction or erection of structures: Design review is required for the construction or erection of any "structure" as defined in the Zoning Ordinance. A building permit may also be be required for such structures. 
  • Fences and walls: All fences, walls, and retaining walls require a building permit. Design review is required for all fences, walls, and retaining walls taller than 42 inches above grade. Like-for-like repair or replacement of existing conforming fences requires only a building permit in most instances. 
  • Decks: Any exterior deck portion over 36 inches above grade requires design review in addition to a building permit; any deck requires a building permit with a review by the Planning Division for conformance with zoning. 
  • Concrete patios, sidewalks and other hardscape installations require a building permit
  • Siding and re-siding (including stucco) of buildings requires design review and a building permit 
  • Garden sheds and similar attached and detached accessory structures require design review and a building permit.
  • Windows, doors, and awnings require a building permit. Design review is also required if any dimension is increased or the location is changed. Like-for-like window replacements typically require a building permit only
  • Swimming pools and spas: Placement or relocation of swimming pools and spas of any size (except for prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep) requires design review and a building permit. Resurfacing of existing swimming pools and/or spas requires a building permit
  • Skylights, fire pits, and built-in barbeque structures require design review and a building permit
  • Air conditioning units and similar equipment: Installation, replacement or relocation of exterior air conditioning or heating (HVAC) units, generators, or similar noise-generating mechanical equipment requires design review and a building permit
  • Lighting (exterior): Exterior lighting (with the exception of low voltage down-lighting) and any lighting-related poles or mounts over 42 inches in height require design review and a building permit
  • Children’s outside playhouses or play structures, swing sets, tree houses, trampolines, basketball standards, and similar equipment (unless both portable and not fixed in place/anchored to the ground) require design review and a building permit. [Exception: Portable and non-affixed playhouses less than 120 square feet in footprint and roof area, and which are one level and less than 12 feet in height and have no plumbing, electrical, heating or cooling, are exempt from a building permit
  • Sports courts (exterior) of any kind require design review and may require a building permit
  • Grading, excavation, filling, or earth movement in excess of 50 cubic yards requires design review and a grading permit
  • Driveways: Creation, establishment, installation, widening or expansion of any driveway or any open parking space on an improved parking surface requires design review and a building permit
  • Parking lots: Paving, re-paving, striping and re-striping of parking lots requires design review and a building permit. Modifications to the layout or design of parking lots located in a non-residential zone, or located in any parking lot or parking area containing more than 10 parking spaces that is located in a multi-family residential zone requires design review. Any modification or striping/repainting of parking spaces requires a building permit
  • Mailboxes over 36 inches in height require design review. An encroachment permit may be required from the Public Works Department if the mailbox is located in the public right-of-way and is of a substantive nature 
  • Guard railings are required at waterfront bulkheads, fixed piers and fixed gangways. Design review and a building permit are required. 
  • Satellite dishes greater than one meter in diameter require design review approval
  • Flagpoles require design review and a building permit
  • Water tanks require design review and a building permit
  • Utility poles and related: Placement, replacement or modification of utility distribution poles and facilities, including lines, wires and boxes requires design review approval
  • Shade cloth structures constructed for nursery or agricultural purposes require design review and a building permit
  • Tree removal or alteration. See Tree Permits.
  • Painting and repainting, wall-papering, carpeting, flooring tile (except tile on walls adjacent to tub or bath areas), countertops and similar finish work typically do not require design review or building permits
  • Exterior repainting of Downtown buildings that are listed on the Town’s “historic inventory”, and exterior repainting of residences governed by specific Precise Plan color related conditions (exclusively in Planned Development zones), require design review
  • Use Changes: Changes of use in commercial zones, and changes where there is an “intensification of use” in commercial zones, typically require a conditional use permit
  • Chicken-keeping and Honeybee keeping require a permit from the Planning Division
  • Home Occupations (home businesses) require a home occupation permit from the Planning Division and a business license
  • Signs: Most signs require a permit (see Chapter 16A of the Tiburon Municipal Code)
  • Water wells (potable and non-potable) require a water well permit
  • Burglar Alarm Systems require a permit from the Tiburon Police Department
  • Debris boxes require an encroachment permit from Public Works when in a public street
  • Leaf blower types and hours are regulated (see Town website or call for information)

Per the Tiburon Zoning Ordinance, a Structure is defined as: Anything that is built or constructed and requires a location on the ground, including a building, accessory building, or edifice of any kind; or any piece of work artificially built up or composed of parts. Structure does not include a fence or a wall used as a fence three and one-half feet or less in height; nor landscaping features, decks, or pavement wherein no part of such landscaping features, decks, or pavement extends more than three feet above grade.