Business Permits & Inspections

Before you sign a lease or purchase equipment, check the list below to see what permits and inspections might be required to operate your business in Petaluma, or try our new permit tool Open Counter to identify and estimate your permit costs.

Note: Petaluma’s City Hall, including the Encroachment Permit, Building and Planning counter, is closed on Fridays. Our online permit tool is accesible 24/7.


NewToolTry our new, online permit tool to help you identify and estimate permit costs associated with your business. The tool will ask the questions, you provide the answers. You will get a summary of applicable permits and costs to help you plan.


The Permit Tool is free and accessible 24/7. It will take you about 15 minutes.


No forms are needed!! Just answer the questions and get your answers.

Site Plan & Architectural Review (SPAR)

City of Petaluma Planning Department – 707-778-4470 / email

Required when a building exterior is modified or when new buildings or site modifications are proposed.

There are two levels of SPARs depending on the size and complexity of the project. Small Projects (Minor SPAR) can be reviewed and approved by staff. Large projects (Major SPAR) must be reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission, which makes larger projects longer and more costly to process.


The cost and timing for this permit depends on the complexity of the project. Review the Fees page for baseline fee structure, then consult the Planning Division for an estimate based on your project.


Site Plan & Architectural Review (SPAR) Application form

Home Occupation Permit

City of Petaluma Planning Department – 707-778-4470 / email

Required when conducting business from home. Allows City to assure neighborhoods are protected from impacts associated with commercial activities.


This permit typically issued over the counter. Consult the Fees page for the current permit fee.


Home Occupation Permit Application form

Conditional Use Permit (CUPs or Use Permits)

City of Petaluma Planning Department – 707-778-4470 / email

This applies to anyone interested in using a building or land for activities designated as “Conditional” under Petaluma’s zoning guidelines, including mobile vendors.

There are different levels of CUPs depending on the size and complexity of your project. Administrative Use Permits are handled by staff. Some Minor and all Major permits are reviewed by the Planning Commission and are often more costly and take longer to process.


Administrative Use Permits require staff review and noticing with a minimum of 6-8 weeks for projects deemed to be minor in nature.

Administrative, Minor and Major Use Permits require an initial deposit and are charged based on the time and materials needed to process the review.

View the Fees page for a baseline or estimate permit costs using the online permit tool. Then consult the Planning Division to verify deposit fees and project estimate.


Conditional Use Permit Application form

Sign Permit

City of Petaluma Building Department – 707-778-4301 / email

Required when placing most signs on or beside a business. Illuminated, wall and monument signs require a permit. Permits are also required when refacing signs.


This permit is often processed over the counter depending on complexity. Sign permit fees range from 4% – 6% of the valuation of the sign.


Sign Permit Form

Encroachment Permits

City of Petaluma Public Works & Utilities Department – 707-778-4303 / email

Required for residential and business activities that encroach on the public right of way, e.g, outdoor sidewalk dining, sidewalk sales, dumpsters, awnings that project into public sidewalk areas, street furniture, tree trimming or removal and bike racks.  Encroachment Permits are also required when construction or repair projects encroach on public right of way, within public easements, on private property, or for private utility connections to City utilities.


The fee for an Encroachment Permit depends on the scope of your project. Contact the encroachment permit administrator for more information.

Encroachment permit applications take about four business days to review and approve. Permits can be issued in person over the counter or by email.


Encroachment Permit Form

Temporary Use (aka, Zoning) Permit

City of Petaluma Planning Division – 707-778-4470 / email

Required when conducting a temporary activity on private property that do not comply with zoning rules, i.e. events, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree lots.


Temporary Use (aka Zoning) Permits require special staff review. Applications must be submitted 30 days prior to the event.

A flat fee is charged for a Temporary Use Permit. Consult the Fees page or contact the Planning Division.


Zoning Permit application form 

Special Event Permits

City of Petaluma Police Department – Sergeant Jeremy Walsh, 707-778-4596 / email

Required for special events including parades, athletic events and block parties that take place on a city street, sidewalk or city-owned land.


Fees are charged based on which of four types of Special Event permit are deemed needed: Minor Residential, Major Residential, Minor Commercial, or Major Commercial.

You must submit an application 30 days prior to your event. The review time and costs will depend on the size and complexity of the event.


Special Event Permit Application FAQs and form

Wastewater Discharge Permits

City of Petaluma Environmental Services Division – James Hiller, 707-778-4409 / email

Required for businesses discharging water into the sewer system.


This permit is calculated with a formula that involves the amount and quality of the water to be discharged. Fees for companies producing food products or using chemicals can be significant. Contact James Hiller, City of Petaluma Environmental Compliance Inspector, 707-778-4409 / email for an estimate.


Building Permits

City of Petaluma Building Department, 707-778-4301 / email

Required for all construction to ensure compliance with building codes and safety for you, your customers and employees. Building permits are necessary for almost all installations, plumbing and electrical work.


Building permit applications are reviewed in 15 working days and cost 4-6% of the total permit valuation. Additional review time will be necessary if changes or corrections to the building plans are needed.


Visit the Community Development page to download building permit application forms and informational handouts.

Fire Inspections & Permits

City of Petaluma Fire Prevention, Fire Marshal – 707.778.4389 / email

Required for all construction to ensure compliance with local, state and federal fire codes. Businesses considered an “Assembly” occupancy or business installing high pile storage or special equipment might require additional measures to comply with the fire code. Permits and inspections related to Tents, Hazardous Materials, Hoods and Ducts, Underground Storage Tanks and Large Family Day Care require special review.


Plan reviews for projects involving Fire Prevention review take 2-3 weeks. Fire Inspections and permits range in cost depending on the complexity of the project. Contact the Fire Prevention Division for an assessment of the permits you will need and an estimate of costs.


Visit the Fire Prevention page to download more information and permit application forms.

Air Pollution Permit/Registration/Notification

Bay Area Air Quality Management Board

Permits are required for businesses whose operations involve roasting, smoking and other actions that produce air contaminants.

Pre-construction permits can be required for even small pieces of equipment or activities (including some organic liquid storage tanks larger than 260 gallons, wastewater systems, businesses that apply inks, coatings, varnishes, etc., and businesses that use solvent cleaning machines such as degreasers) – for details see BAAQMD’s current rules (and in general BAAQMD Regulation 2 Rule 1).  Owners of the following types of equipment may be eligible to apply for a renewable registration certificate instead of a permit:  agricultural diesel engines, portable equipment (engines, abrasive blasters, concrete batch plants, etc.), boilers/steam generators/process heaters, restaurant charbroilers, dry cleaning equipment, graphic arts operations, and mobile refinishing operations.

Water Conservation

City of Petaluma Environmental Services Division – James Hiller, 707-778-4409 / email

If you have a business or are considering opening a business that requires water, you should first speak with Public Works & Utilities Department to get more information about water rates and hook-up fees. Restaurants and laundromats are eligible for a 50% discount on water hook up fees when using efficient appliances.

Development Impact Fees

City of Petaluma Building Department, Doug Hughes, Chief Building Official – 707-778-4306 / email

If you are building a new building, changing the use of a building, or adding square footage to an existing building, you will owe development impact and/or connection fees. These fees are established to cover the costs the City will incur to build needed infrastructure to support the additional people and traffic that will result from your project. Contact the Planning Division to get an estimate of these fees.