The Planning Office is an Office of the Department of Planning and Development. Our primary function is to plan and regulate land use and development within the unincorporated portions of Santa Clara County.
We inform property owners, land development specialists, real estate professionals and others of the County's land use and development policies and procedures. We review and process various permit applications such as grading approval, subdivision, design review and building site approval. We provide support to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors on a variety of land use and development matters. Other responsibilities include policy analysis, GIS services, research and technical assistance relating to land use, housing, environmental protection, historic preservation and demographics.
The Mission of the Department of Planning and Development
The Mission of the Department of Planning and Development is to protect the County's natural resources; to ensure quality and sustainable community development and affordable housing; and to protect the public health safety and welfare of our constituents through the application and enforcement of the County of Santa Clara's Ordinance Code and land use policies.
Defining a Better Place: The County General Plan
What is a better place? The community's vision for a better place is presented in the County General Plan. This vision is to achieve:
Basic Services of the Planning Office
The mission of the Planning Office is implemented through four areas of service.
Public Information: We provide land use and demographic trend information to decision makers, developers, land owners, community organizations, businesses, investors and members of the general public.
Planning: We initiate and manage planning studies relating to growth management, resource conservation, and other issues affecting the county's current and future quality of life.
Development Review: We review proposed development projects on urban and rural unincorporated lands to ensure compliance with land use and environmental standards. We also provide staff support to the Planning Commission, a commission of community members appointed by the Board of Supervisors with review authority over land use policy and development projects.
Zoning Enforcement: We seek to ensure that residents, property owners, and business owners in unincorporated areas comply with county land use policies and ordinances.
Community Benefits of the Planning Office
Countywide Planning and Coordination
Santa Clara County encompasses 15 cities and approximately 1.7 million people. Planning problems don't stop at arbitrary city limit or county lines. The County Planning Office provides a comprehensive, coordinated perspective in dealing with countywide land use issues.
Environmental Protection and Resource Conservation
The natural resources of Santa Clara County are important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem and contribute substantially to the quality of life here. The Planning Office strives to ensure that natural resources are preserved by conditioning development projects, by implementing County Ordinances, and through resource planning projects.
Information for Public and Private Decision Making
Plans for the future must be based on accurate and meaningful information about the present. The Planning Office provides decision makers, private organizations, investors, land owners and developers with land use, environmental and demographic information so that they can make informed decisions.
Public decision making must reflect the community's shared vision for a better place. The Planning Office uses a variety of means to involve the public in County planning issues.
Public Health & Safety
The Planning Office promotes public health and safety by enforcing local ordinances and requiring sound development practices for new developments.
Consensus Building and Conflict Resolution
The diversity of interests within Santa Clara County often raise differing perspectives when it comes to land use policy. The Planning Office seeks to resolve public policy conflicts by building consensus among major stakeholders though interest-based decision-making processes.
Santa Clara County is made up of many unique neighborhoods and subregions, each with its own historic, visual, or environmental character. The Planning Office works to ensure that these neighborhoods retain the qualities that make them special.