Economic Growth & Cultural Vitality: Five ways Santa Monica is streamlining permitting processes for businesses and residents

May 2, 2024 3:32 PM
by Ariel Socarras

In alignment with the city’s strategic priority of fostering Economic Growth & Cultural Vitality, the city of Santa Monica’s Building and Safety Division continues to update processes to allow businesses and residents to get projects permitted and built faster. 

The latest tools and resources available include: 

  1. Express Permits
  2. The Express Permit process allows single-family residential property owners to obtain building permits for certain work without the need for plan review or a trip to the Permit Services Center. Kitchen and bathroom remodels, wall heater replacements, seismic gas shutoff valves, electrical panel upgrades, re-roofs, window and door changeouts, anchor bolt retrofits and non-structural remodels are eligible for this streamlined process. See the Express Permit Information Bulletin for a full list of eligible projects.

    The full processing, payment and building permit issuance process is completed online. Step-by-step instructions are available here.

  3. Solar panels and batteries 
  4. The city partnered with SolarAPP+ to move review and permitting processes online for eligible photovoltaic, or solar panels, and battery storage systems. SolarAPP+ is a fully automated and online process that allows licensed solar contractors to apply, complete compliance review and obtain building permits for roof-mounted solar panels, energy storage systems and panel upgrades up to 400amps on existing single-family and duplex residential properties. 

  5. Appointment Plan Check
  6. The Building and Safety Division offers Appointment Plan Check service to applicants with qualifying projects. Upon reviewing the application, staff will contact eligible applicants and invite them to an in-person meeting with a plans reviewer for a one-on-one review of the project. The in-person meeting is an efficient way to identify, discuss, and address a project’s issues, facilitating a quicker path to compliance and building permit issuance.

    Currently, this service is scheduled based on staff workload and resources, and is available for the following project types:
    • Tenant improvements with no change of use or occupancy and no structural modifications
    • Remodel of one- or two-family dwellings
    • One-story additions to single-family residential dwellings up to 500 square feet in area and without a basement
    • Multi-family residential remodels with no added square footage or structural work
    • Restaurant tenant improvements with no structural work

    Building and Safety continues to expand the list of projects eligible for Appointment Plan Check as the program grows.

  7. Expedited re-roof inspections
  8. Roof sheathing inspections are now prioritized for same-day or next-day service, based on staff availability. Schedule an inspection online and then call Inspections Services at (310) 458-8359 between 6-6:30 a.m. on the requested day of inspection. Every effort will be made to complete the inspection on the day requested.  Detailed instructions can be found here.

  9. Building and Safety inspector office hours
  10. The Building and Safety Division’s Inspections Services Team now offers a way for the public to drop in and have their inspection questions answered. Contractors and property owners can visit the Inspection Services Office at 1730 4th St. to chat with inspectors Monday through Thursday from 7-8 a.m.

Authored By

Ariel Socarras
Building and Safety Division Manager


Building and Land Use Permits, Services