Planning & Development



Planning & Development Services provides the City Council and community with creative guidance and effective implementation of land use development, planning, housing and environmental policies and programs in order to maintain and enhance the City’s safety, vitality, and attractiveness. The department is also the resource for homeowners, businesses, designers, and contractors in building safe, healthy and sustainable buildings that comply with applicable codes and regulations.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Provides guidance for land use development, long range planning, housing, and environmental policies.
  • Processes permit and entitlement applications and ensure conformance with applicable code and regulations
  • Respond to Planning, Zoning, Building, and Code Enforcement related questions.
  • Implements the Historic Resources Preservation Program

The Development Center is open for in-person services by appointment and limited walk-in service. The City has moved to an all-digital application and plan review platform. This means that we no longer accept paper plan submittals. All submittals must be done in digital format.

Long Range Planning guides and develops the City’s land use, community development, and housing policies and programs. The Long Range Planning team focuses on the Comprehensive PlanArea Plans & Studies, the Community Development Block Grant, and other programs, including work underway on the development of a Rental Registry Program and the North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan.

Current Planning is your go-to for project guidance and advice. Our team works with community members, developers, designers, engineers and other stakeholders through every step in the development process to achieve the best designs possible for our city. Current Planning oversees Parcel Reports, Planning & Development Forms & Applications, Pending & Approved Projects, Development Ordinances, Maps, Guidelines, and Standards and more. 

Historic Preservation Program began in 1979 and currently boasts four National Register Districts and hundreds of individually significant resources.

Development Services is a resource for homeowners, businesses, designers and contractors to build safe, healthy and sustainable buildings that comply with applicable codes and regulations.

Building provides building permits, plan check, and inspection services.

Fire Prevention Bureau (Fire Permits) performs fire plan checks, reviews, permitting, and field inspections

Planning Services at Development Center assist with general planning/zoning related questions, certificates of Use and Occupancy, and Over the Counter permits. They also accept planning entitlement applications (by appointment only), perform zoning compliance plan checks on single-story single-family building permit applications, review discretionary sign applications, and administer the City’s Construction and Demolition Debris (C&D) Program.

Public Works (Public Works Permits) administers the National Flood Insurance Program, provides support to the private development community for construction in the right-of-way and the maintenance of Palo Alto's Public Trees and Urban Forest.

Green Building implements Palo Alto Green building ordinances and requirements defined during the planning, plan check, construction and inspections.

Utilities supports the connection of electric, gas, and sewer services and ensures conformance to the electrical requirements and water, gas, and waste water standards during development.

Code Enforcement is responsible for enforcement of property maintenance, zoning, and building codes throughout Palo Alto.