City Planning Service Enhancements: Online Application Appointment Bookings + 311 Transition

In an effort to improve service, City Planning is implementing two service changes effective July 19:

1) Online Appointment System for Planning Application Submittal:  Planning application appointments will move to an automated booking system.  You may check availability, schedule, change, and cancel appointments using this tool.  Starting July 19, instead of e-mailing your appointment request, please use the new appointment system.


2) General Inquiries for City Planning Moving to 311:  All general customer inquiries for City Planning will move to 311.  The 311 system will replace the general e-mail and phone line as the best way to reach a planner for zoning questions and consultations.  Note that if you submitted an application and paid fees, please continue to contact your assigned planner directly.  Starting July 19, please use any of the following methods to contact a planner for your general zoning questions:




The City of Santa Monica appreciates your patience while adjusting to alternative ways of delivering permitting services during the pandemic.

In an effort to provide counter consult services, permit issuance, and return more closely to typical timelines for qualifying Same-Day Review projects (i.e., over-the-counter permits), the City is exploring options available with virtual counter services by appointment. The services below are currently being offered, as we continue to strive to expand our virtual service offerings.

Appointments can be scheduled starting Monday, November 2, 2020. Currently, the following services are available:

  • Review and approval of Same-Day Review project types, such as façade remodels, door/window change-outs, fences/walls, re-roofs, and mechanical/electrical/plumbing fixture change-outs;
  • Issuance of building permits for projects that have successfully completed plan review and are ready for building permit issuance.
  • Consult services with a plans reviewer from the Building and Safety Division

For more information please visit the Virtual Plan Review and Permitting page.



City Hall, including the Permit Services Center, is currently closed to the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. City Hall services continue to be provided via e-mail, online submittals, and telephone. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

Please use the following links to obtain contact information for where to best direct your questions and submittals related to the various divisions within the Community Development Department.  As a courtesy to our customers and City staff, please keep your correspondence focused to only the group or person that your inquiry applies to.  Doing so helps facilitate more efficient response times and allows us to serve a greater number of customers by avoiding redundant efforts by City staff. 

New Leasing Requirements for Rental Units

On September 8, 2020 City Council enacted new leasing requirements that apply to all rental units in Santa Monica.  The ordinance is available here and updated regulations are available here (updated 1-29-21).  The new rules go into effect on October 9, 2020 and require that all rental units adhere to the following rules:


  • Units must be rented only to natural persons
  • Units must be rented only to tenants intending the unit to be their primary residence
  • Units must be rented for an initial term of not less than 1 year
  • Units must be rented unfurnished

A written notice is required to be provided to all prospective tenants and is available here


These new regulations are intended to preserve Santa Monica’s rental housing stock for permanent residents in response to concern regarding loss of rental housing stock to corporations and persons who do not wish to make Santa Monica their primary residence. 

**UPDATE** On October 13, in response to public input, Council adopted revisions to the new leasing regulations that will go into effect on November 27, 2020.  The updated ordinance is available here. In response to community input, the following are limited exemptions to the new leasing regulations:


  • Owner who occupies a rental housing unit as their primary residence can lease that unit for more than 30 days and less than a year no more than twice a year for a total period of 6 months.  The unit would be allowed to be rented furnished.  This would not apply to a unit that had been the subject of an Ellis Act or owner-move-in eviction within the last ten years.
  • ADUs and JADUs for which plans are submitted for plan check before December 

As part of the comprehensive Housing Element Update, staff will be making further recommendations for avenues that may allow for limited medium-term housing (rentals of more than 30 days and less than one year), including co-living.  If you would like more information or to sign up for notifications on the Housing Element Update, please start at the project website:

Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Standards


On January 1, 2020, new State law (AB 68, AB 881, and SB 13) regarding the construction and establishment of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) came into effect to help spur the production of more housing. These new laws revised development standards, such as eliminating minimum parcel size, establishing larger unit sizes based on bedroom count, reducing minimum side and rear setbacks, and  removing on-site parking requirements. In addition, the State laws expanded ADUs into multi-unit and mixed-use zoning districts and introduced the new concept of Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADUs) when in conjunction with Single-Unit Dwellings.

On September 8, 2020, City Council approved an ordinance incorporating these State law requirements into a new ADU/JADU Section, SMMC Section 9.31.025 Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units. Additionally, to further encourage the production of ADUs and JADUs, Council expanded upon the new requirements by exempting ALL ADUs and JADUs from parcel coverage or floor area calculations. To review the new ADU/JADU Section, please click here.

If you have any questions, please email City Planning at



R1 Development Standards Update

On October 22, 2019, the Santa Monica City Council approved changes to the development standards for the R1 zone district and associated sections of the Zoning Ordinance. The intent of the revisions was to address the size of new home construction, incentivize the retention of existing homes, and to make the standards more user-friendly. These new standards will become effective on January 1, 2020, subject to a second reading on November 12, 2019 by the City Council. More information regarding the update process and the adopted revisions can be found at the R1 Update webpage .

2019 Building Code Adoption

As part of the three-year Code update cycle, the Building and Fire Life Safety Commission will convene on August 14, 2019, to consider and recommend to City Council the local adoption of the 2019 California Building Standards Codes to become effective on January 1, 2020. The codes under consideration are the 2019 California Building, Residential, Electrical, Energy, Mechanical, Plumbing, Fire, Green Building, Historical, and Existing Building Standards Codes. Local amendments are also included as part of the Commission's consideration with the applicable findings and justifications, as required by State law.

Local amendments are required to be specific to each edition of State Building Codes. Therefore, as part of the adoption process for new building code editions every three years, the City must restate the existing local amendments to be retained and identify any new local amendments proposed, along with the applicable findings and justifications for each proposed amendment.

The local amendments and justifications proposed as part of this Code adoption cycle are available prior to the Commission meeting at the public counter in the Permit Services Center of City Hall (Room 111), or can be viewed electronically here

If you have any questions you can reach Building and Safety at 310.458.8355, or by email at

New Tool to look up Zoning Now Available!

If you need help looking up where you can locate your business in Santa Monica, a new user-friendly tool is now available! Visit and find out your zoning today.

Interim Demolition Review Process for Buildings Over 40 Years

On July 14, 2020, City Council authorized updates to the demolition permit review process for structures over 40 years old consistent with restructuring of the City’s historic preservation program included in Council’s adoption of the FY2020-21 budget. The Landmarks Commission will not be conducting preliminary review of demolition permits, but any person may still file an application to designate a building or structure as a City Landmark or Structure of Merit. Council’s action also restarts the demolition application waiting period as of July 14, 2020.  A full posting of pending demolition review permits is available online here.  Going forward, in order to facilitate public access to demolition permit information, public notification of pending demolition permit applications will occur in the following ways:


  1. Enhancements to the Landmarks Commission website to include the following:
    1. Real time data on demolition applications over 40 years old:
    2. Monthly posting of demolition permit applications on Landmarks Commission website (this posting will occur even if there is not a Landmarks Commission meeting)
    3. E-mail notification of posting of demolition permit application list


You may sign up to receive notification of posting of Landmarks Commission agendas by e-mailing a request to planning@smgov.netClick here for key changes for an explanation of the revised process.

Demolition Application Process Goes Digital

Beginning December 3, 2018, the City’s demolition application review process is moving online to improve services and reduce delays. As of this date, the City will only accept demolition applications electronically submitted through the City’s Electronic Plan Review (EPR) system, where an applicant can track an application’s progress online, and City reviewers will receive timely notifications on projects awaiting their approval. The streamlined process will automate many steps in the process, resulting in quicker turnarounds for review and permit issuance. The updated Demolition Application Packetincludes instructions on the new online process. Please send any questions via email to or by phone at 310.458.8355.

Information and video tutorials on how to use EPR are located on the Electronic Plan Reviewwebpage. If further assistance is required, a Permit Specialist is available by appointment only, to provide one-on-one assistance at the Permit Services Center in City Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Email to check availability and schedule an appointment.

Permitting Temporary Uses and/or Structures

A new informational handout is available for permitting temporary uses and/or structures on private property. The City has experienced an increased volume of these types of activities and the new handout is intended to inform and guide applicants of the City approvals that may be required prior to establishing a temporary use on private property, or commencing any construction activity associated with a temporary use. Examples of temporary uses are commonly referred to as ‘pop-ups’ in the commercial industry; however, the temporary nature of these uses does not preclude or exempt them from compliance with state and local codes such as the Building Code and Zoning Ordinance. The City will continue to assess the permitting process for these types of activities to identify areas where opportunities for improved efficiency may exist. Visit the Applications and Forms page to download the Temporary Uses and Structures handout .