Plan review is the City of Santa Monica’s process of reviewing and approving all drawings, and specifications for improvements to verify compliance with building, zoning, and fire codes. The plan review process is prior to the permit issuance stage and involves varying levels of review depending upon the scope of a project. Complex projects are recommended to also complete a Pre-submittal Review.
The different building permit applications include:
Single-Trade Permit Application
Combination Building Permit Application
Electronic Plan Review (Plan Check) Application
Energy Reach Code
As of May 1, 2017, Santa Monica enforces an Energy Reach Code approved by the California Energy Commission and adopted by the Santa Monica City Council. All new residential and commercial construction projects must comply. New construction is defined as an entirely new structure or a project that involves demolition in which 50 percent or more of the exterior wall elements are removed, or are no longer a necessary and integral structural component of the overall building.
All new residential buildings (1-3 stories) shall be designed to use fifteen percent (15%) less energy than the allowed energy budget established by the 2016 California Energy Code (Title 24), and achieve an Energy Design Rating (EDR) of Zero, which requires the use of solar photovoltaics. Compliance with this code (SMMC Chapter 8.36.020) shall serve to satisfy the prescriptive solar photovoltaic requirements of SMMC Chapter 8.106.055.
All new high-rise residential buildings (4 stories or more), non-residential buildings, hotels and motels shall be designed to use ten percent (10%) less energy than the allowed energy budget established by the 2016 California Energy Code and install a prescriptive amount of solar photovoltaics (see Solar Photovoltaic Requirements SMMC 8.106.080).
Project teams shall submit a Title 24 Compliance Report to plan review showing the percentage improvement over Title 24, and for residential projects the Energy Design Rating of Zero. Please visit the Office of Sustainability and the Environment's Green Building page for additional information.
Water Neutrality Ordinance
The new Water Neutrality Ordinance has gone into effect as of July 1, 2017. This ordinance caps water use for new developments by limiting a project to the historical use for its individual parcel. A stakeholder committee of residents, building industry professionals, non-profits, manufacturers, and local governments created the proposed ordinance to meet City Council's directive. This ordinance is one strategy to achieve the City's goal for water self-sufficiency by 2020.
Only new developments (residential and commercial) will need to comply with this ordinance. New developments, in this case, are defined as new buildings with plumbing fixtures, existing buildings that demolish 50% or more of the exterior walls/structural support, and new or enlarged pools, spas, ponds, and water features. Complying with the Water Neutrality Ordinance will require an additional plan review by Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE) staff to verify the calculated water demand of each structure. Water demand calculations must be completed by the applicant and included with any plan review submittal for new developments (as defined above).
Please visit the OSE's Water Neutrality page for additional information about Water Neutrality requirements and to utilize the City's various water demand calculators.
Expedited Solar Photovoltaic Permitting (10 kW or Less in One and Two Family Dwellings)
Application, Checklist, and Requirements for Expedited Solar Permitting
Structural Criteria for Residential Rooftop Solar Energy Installations
Solar PV Standard Plan - Simplified Central/String Inverter Systems for One- and Two-Family Dwellings
Solar PV Standard Plan - Simplified Microinverter and ACM Systems for One- and Two-Family Dwellings
Inspection Guide for PV Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings
Expedited Permitting for Electric Service Equipment (EV Charger)
Expedited Permitting for Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EV Charger)
Over the Counter Plan Review (OTC)
Some projects qualify for over the counter services. Turnaround time for the initial plan review is 0-3* days and same day for resubmittals. OTC submittals should consist of paper plans accompanied with an electronic copy of the plans (e.g. flash drive) to City staff at the Permit Services Center. Examples of projects that qualify for over the counter plan check include:
- Small Interior residential remodels
- Office TI's less than 2,500 sq ft with no structural & minor M/P/E.
- Single Family Residential room additions nonstructural on flat land, and single story less than 500 sq ft
- Decks with minimum structural requirements
- Pool or Spa
- Fence or retaining wall*
- Window or door replacements*
- Reroofing with concrete tile*
- Any other projects and plan reviews as determined by Plan Review Supervisor
* Time based on project acceptance once plans include all minimum requirements, including required project approvals such as Architectural Review Board approval.
Formal Plan Review
Depending on the type of project the timeline for project turnaround varies. All applications for plan review must include a completed Plan Review Questionnaire. The Questionnaire will also help determine which forms and applications are necessary for a complete submittal. Information regarding Plan Review Documents has been published online to assist applicants in preparing a complete submission.
Documents must be submitted electronically through the Electronic Plan Review system.