Development Review and Permitting

Santa Monica’s Permit Services Center processes, reviews, and approves building permit applications to provide the legal permission to construct, alter, or add to a structure. Building permit applications may require review by multiple City agencies outside the Planning & Community Development Department depending on the scope of work for the project, including the Fire Department, Civil Engineering, Transportation, and Resource Recovery and Recycling, among others.  

It is essential that prior to submitting a building permit application to the Permit Services Center, all required land use entitlement and design approvals should be secured from City Planning. These may include approvals from the Architectural Review Board, Landmarks Commission, and/or the Planning Commission.  Please visit the City Planning web site for additional information, or contact the City Planning Division at 310-458-8341. 

Building & Construction Permits 

Building and construction permits are typically required for new development, as well as any home or commercial tenant improvement, repair, alteration, construction, or demolition project, including pool or spa installations, sandblasting, most excavation, and the erection of temporary structures such as temporary power poles. Permits are also required for re-roofing projects, as well as improvements or replacements to plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems.

Simplified Plan Check Process for Soft-Story Seismic Retrofits 

The Building & Safety Division has implemented a simplified plan review process for soft-story seismic retrofit building permit applications. The new Soft-Story Seismic Retrofit application packet includes a set of pre-screening questions that may remove the need for plan review by the City Planning and/or Mobility Divisions for many projects. Simply complete the contents of the application packet and submit to the City's Electronic Plan Review system along with plans and other associated documents. 

For tenant-occupied residential properties, a simplified Soft-Story specific Means & Methods form is also provided with the new application to replace the standard long form Means & Methods Plan. Soft-story retrofit applicants are only required to sign the Soft-Story Means & Methods form 1) acknowledging and understanding the tenant protections during construction and tenant relocation requirements mandated by the Santa Monica Municipal Code (SMMC), and 2) agreeing to abide by these and all other applicable requirements of the SMMC. 

For further information regarding the details of the application process for soft-story seismic retrofits, or other questions related to the City’s Seismic Retrofit Program, please call 310-458-8355, visit or email

Commercial Interior Non-Structural Demolition Permits (Soft Demo)

A soft demolition permit is for the interior non-structural demolition of a commercial space to restore it back to a “raw” space (commonly referred to as a shell) for purposes of leasing and marketing to potential tenants, and to prepare the space for a future tenant improvement. The work allowed as part of a soft demolition permit shall be for interior work only and does not authorize any occupancy of the commercial space for a specific land use. A separate and subsequent building permit is required for a tenant improvement associated with the occupancy of a commercial space. A soft demolition permit can be issued the same day that the application is submitted to the City, subject to containing all the required information and content on the plans, as identified in the Commercial Interior Non-Structural Demolition Application

Electronic Permit Availability

City staff is working diligently to expand the number of permits available using the online ePermits system. Currently the ePermits system may be used to apply for a number of construction permits. Before starting the application process please read the detailed ePermit Application Requirements to see if your project qualifies for the online submittal process. Online Applications improve communication between staff and applicants, and helps applicants avoid lines at the Public Counter.

Active Permits

A list of active buildings permits is available through the City’s Open Data web portal.  The list includes active and pending permits and can be exported as an Excel file.  Click here to be linked to the City’s Open Data web port for the list of Active Building Permits and Plan Checks

Permit Requirements & Applications

City staff is currently in the process of updating the Permit web pages to make it easier to find information on permitting requirements and application materials.  In the meantime, a comprehensive list of applications, forms, and permit types exists on the following A-Z List of Permits webpage.