Processing Permit Applications

Once the Commission receives an application, the Commission's staff has 30 days to determine whether the application is complete. If the application is not complete, the commission staff will respond in writing within 30 days notifying the applicant of the information needs. If it is complete, it is officially filed and processed in one of three ways depending on the type of permit that is appropriate for the particular work to be authorized by the permit. The Commission has a maximum of 90 days to act on an application once it is determined to be complete.

Permit Applications

Major Permit Applications

After the Commission's staff determines that an application is complete, the staff distributes a summary of the application to the Commission and the public. No sooner than 28 days after the application has been filed and at least 10 days after the application summary has been distributed, the Commission holds a public hearing on the application. Unless the applicant agrees to provide the Commission with more time, the Commission must act on a permit application within 90 days of filing the application. [California Government Code section 66632 ]

For Major, Administrative and Regionwide permits use the standard permit application form
Administrative Permit Applications

After the Commission's staff determines that the application is complete, they summarize the application on a listing that is sent to the Commission and other interested parties. On this listing, the executive director indicates whether the staff recommends to approve or deny the application. This action is taken unless a majority of the Commission decides it wants to more fully consider the application. If the Commission makes this decision, the applicant is notified within five days after the Commission meeting that a public hearing is necessary. [California Code of Regulations, sections 10600 et seq]

Regionwide Permit Applications

After the Commission's staff determines that an application is complete, the Executive Director has between 7 and 14 days to issue a regionwide permit. Regionwide permit applications do not require a public hearing. [California Code of Regulations, sections 11700 et seq]

Abbreviated Regionwide Permit Applications

Prior to commencing any project for which a Commission permit is required and which the project sponsor believes is authorized by a Commission abbreviated regionwide permit, the project sponsor shall complete, sign and submit to the Executive Director a Notice of Intent to Proceed under an Abbreviated Regionwide Permit (which these regulations contain as Appendix N); shall receive approval of the NOI pursuant to Section 11719; and shall acknowledge the terms and conditions of the abbreviated regionwide permit pursuant to Section 11720.

Consolidated Dredged Material Management Office (DMMO) Application

For dredging and dredged sediment disposal permits only. This application is used and accepted by BCDC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regional Water Quality Control Board and California State Lands Commission for dredging and dredged sediment disposal projects.

Permit Amendments

After issuance, permits can be amended. Amendments which materially change a project require full Commission consideration and a public hearing. Non-material amendments can be approved by the Commission's executive director. [California Code of Regulations, section 10800 et seq].

Additional Information

Most of the laws, plans and policies which govern the Commission's decisions are available here or from the Commission's office at a nominal charge. All California state agency regulations, including the Commission's, can be purchased by contacting the private company with which the state has contracted for regulation publishing.

The Commission's regulations can also be ordered by contacting Barclays Law Publishers, P.O. Box 3066, South San Francisco, California 94083 (415/244-6611) and asking for 14 California Code of Regulations Division 5, Chapters 1 through 17 and Appendices A through M.

Posting Application Notice

The Commission's staff will send a pending application notice to the applicant who must post the notice at the project site. The applicant must return a form to the Commission certifying that the notice has been posted as a filing requirement.

Design Review Board

To assist the Commission in evaluating the appearance, design, and scope of proposed public access of applications for significant projects are evaluated by the Commission's Design Review Board, an advisory board made up of: prominent architects; landscape architects; engineers; and other design professionals.

The Design Review Board's evaluation of a proposed project is normally scheduled to take place prior to the Commission's public hearing on the application.

Design Review Board: What It Is, How It Works

Design Guidelines

Public Access Design Guidelines - Shoreline Spaces 

Public Access Signage Guidelines - Shoreline Signs

BCDC Approved Signage Graphics

Landscape Guide for the San Francisco Bay - Shoreline Plants 

Engineering Criteria Review Board

Buildings or other facilities, particularly those constructed on Bay fill, can pose risks in a seismic event. To assist the Commission in evaluating the safety of such proposals, the Commission's Engineering Criteria Review Board reviews prior to the commission's public hearing on the project.

The Board is an advisory panel composed of leading civil engineers, geologists, soils engineers, structural engineers and other experts in seismic safety.

Engineering Criteria Review Board: What It Is, How It Works

Commission Consideration

BCDC meetings are held at 1:00 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month. A meeting notice is provided to applicants and other interested parties at least 10 days before the Commission meeting. The notice indicates what matters the Commission will consider and specifies the date, time and location of the meeting.

The Commission typically takes one or two meetings to consider and act on an application. The public hearing is held at the first meeting. The applicant or applicant's representative describes the project. Ten minutes is usually allowed for the applicant's presentation. After the presentation, there is a public hearing during which members of the public also have an opportunity to express their views on the project. Each member of the public has three minutes to speak.

The hearing is followed by the Commission's staff presents its recommendation and, then, the Commission votes on the application.

The applicant (or applicant's representative) has an opportunity to comment on the staff's recommendation before the Commission votes.

Thirteen members of the 27-member Commission must vote in favor of a project in order for a project to be approved.

The two members of the Commission who represent federal agencies cannot vote on permits. [Government Code section 66632, Public Resources Code sections 29520 et seq, and California Code of Regulations, sections 10360 et seq, 10400 et seq and 10550 et seq]

Private Contact with Commissioners

It is Commission policy that Commissioners and their alternates avoid discussion of permit application matters with individuals or groups on any side of an issue outside of the formal public hearing process and record. If such discussions or contacts occur, at a public meeting the Commission member involved will disclose the name or names of those involved and the substance of the contact. An opportunity will then be provided for rebuttal of the information disclosed.

This policy does not preclude:

discussions by Commissioners who represent the federal government who do not vote on permits and have to discuss permit application matters in the course of their federal duties;

discussions between Commissioners and with the Commission's staff; and

discussions carried on by Commissioners whose other public duties cause them to hold such discussions to carry out their responsibilities, although these discussions must be disclosed to the Commission.

Permit Conditions

To assure full compliance with the Commission's laws and policies, permits granted by the Commission include conditions that must be carried out as part of the authorized project.

Permit conditions can include requirements to construct, guarantee and maintain public access to the Bay, specified construction methods to assure safety or to protect water quality, plan review requirements before construction begins, and mitigation requirements to offset adverse environmental impacts of the project. Failure to comply with permits conditions can invalidate the permit and lead to fines and legal action against the permittee.

To avoid unnecessary delays in project completion, applicants should consider all aspects of a proposed project with particular attention to the public access and any necessary mitigation early in the project's design. [Government Code section 66632 and Public Resources Code Section 29500].