Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an assessor’s parcel number?

Assessor’s parcel numbers are 12-digit numbers assigned by the County of Fresno assessor for property tax purposes. Assessor’s parcel numbers are used to track records and projects. A parcel number may be obtained from a property tax bill or from the Assessor’s Office at (559) 600-3534.

2. What is a zoning classification?

All properties within the City are assigned a zoning classification. For example, many properties are assigned an R-1 or Residential One-Family zoning classification. Like land use designations described below, zoning establishes the distribution, location, and extent of the uses of property. Zoning classifications are more specific than land use designations. For example, zoning designations specify building height and setback requirements.

3. What development does zoning allow?

Individual zoning classifications affect all residential structures such as dwellings, home additions, fences, swimming pools, and garages, as well as all commercial and other structures like offices, barns and lumber mills.

Zoning regulations also control what is allowed in specific areas of the City. For example, a property owner typically can conduct a business in a commercial area but not in a residential area except under limited conditions. Similarly, industrial uses are allowed in industrial areas and limited in agricultural areas.

Zoning regulations also contain combining zones and other standards may also apply to a property. The purpose of the Zoning Regulations is to implement the City’s general plan in part by regulating development in accordance with this plan. At the same time, they also help to minimize conflicts resulting from incompatible uses.

4. What is a land use designation?

Similar to zoning designations described above, all properties within the City are also assigned a land use designation. For example, many properties are assigned an RI or Residential-Low Density designation. Land use designations are derived from the land use goals, policies, and standards of the City’s general plan. Residential land use designations also establish a residential density expressed in terms of residential units per acre. Land use designations are more general than zoning classifications. Typically, land use designations focus on allowed uses whereas zoning classifications provide specific standards related to building height and setbacks. Both are used by decision-makers to determine whether a proposed use, development, or subdivision is appropriate.

5. What are building setbacks?

Setbacks are required distances between the vertical walls of buildings and property boundaries. Generally, they are described as front, rear and side yard setbacks. Setbacks vary from zero to fifty feet depending on the zoning classification for the property. Typically the front yard faces the road. However, irregularly shaped parcels or parcels that abut more than one road can have unique setback requirements.

Setbacks and zoning classifications are described in the Kerman Municipal Code.

6. What is the minimum parcel size?

The minimum size of a parcel is the smallest lot you can create on a property. It is an important consideration for subdivisions and lot line adjustments. The zone classification determines minimum parcel sizes.

Generally, the zoning ordinance allows development to occur on parcels that don’t meet the minimum parcel size as if they met the minimum parcel size. However, health and safety requirements other than the zone classification still apply. For example, onsite sewage disposal requires minimum parcel sizes that may differ from the zoning ordinance.

The City’s Website shows parcels and zoning boundaries, which can be used to determine the zoning for your property.

Minimum parcel size and zoning classifications are described in the Kerman Municipal Code.

7. What permits are required to build, rebuild or remodel a house?

Construction or alteration of any residence requires a building permit from the Building Division. Other permit requirements may also apply. In areas without public sewer, sewage disposal system permits are required from the Environmental Health Division. For properties along City roads, an encroachment permit may be required from Planning and Development Services. Other local, state or federal permit requirements may also apply.

Special requirements may apply to rebuilding or altering structures which do not conform to the development standards or allowed uses of the zone classification. More information on nonconforming structures can be found elsewhere on this page.

For more information about which permits may apply, please contact Planning and Development Services at (559) 846-9386 or visit our office at 850 s. Madera Avenue, Kerman, CA.

8. Can I place a manufactured home on my property?

With a building permit, new manufactured homes are allowed by the zoning ordinance the same as other homes. Older manufactured homes are permitted in areas with a T-Manufactured Home or M-Manufactured Home combining zone. Other permits may be required. For example, if the property is located in the coastal zone, the placement of a manufactured home may need a coastal development permit.

9. Are second dwelling units allowed on a property?

Second units are permitted in many residential zoning districts. All new second units require a building permit from the Building Division and may require other permits from the Planning Division. In general, second units are encouraged in the R-1, Residential Single Family zoning districts.

10. How tall can a fence be built?

Fences up to six feet high are exempt from zoning setback and building permit requirements. A fence over six feet high is subject to setback requirements from property lines and requires a building permit from the Building Division. Fences along roads may have special restrictions in height and material according to the Kerman Municipal Code, which establishes standards to ensure adequate visibility corridors for pedestrian and vehicle safety.

11. Can I remove trees from a property?

Tree removal involves numerous considerations including fire safety, neighborhood character, and protection of sensitive resources such as habitat.

Tree removal requirements depend on many factors. We recommended contacting the Public Works Department for more information. Please call (559) 846-9343 or visit 15201 W. California Avenue, Kerman, CA.

12. Are there any easements that affect a property?

There are two types of easements. One is a recorded easement that is discovered through the title search process usually conducted by a title company at the time of property transfer. Another is a prescriptive easement which occurs when a property has been used historically for ingress and egress with or without permission.

13. What is a nonconforming structure or use?

A nonconforming building or use is one which was established prior to the zoning regulations, and does not meet current development standards or the uses allowed by the zone classification. Nonconforming buildings or uses are commonly known as being “grandfathered in”.

To be recognized as legal and non-conforming, the structure or use must be used continuously for the same purpose without interruption for more than two years.

Special requirements apply to nonconforming structures and uses. For more information please contact Planning and Development Services at (559) 846-936 or visit our office at 850 S. Madera Avenue, Kerman, CA

14. If an old structure burns down, can it be rebuilt?

Structures with allowed uses that conform to the standards of the zone classification may be rebuilt with a building permit from the Building Inspection Division. All state and local standards for sewage disposal must also be met when a structure is rebuilt. Structures destroyed by fire must be rebuilt within two years.

Nonconforming structures or uses may also be rebuilt in certain situations. For example, single family homes in commercial zones may be rebuilt with a building permit. However, rebuilding commercial structures in residential zones would only be allowed if the new structure is the same size as the old structure. Minor exceptions may be allowed with a special permit from the Planning Division.

15. Can a house be remodeled if it does not meet the required setbacks?

Legal, nonconforming residences may be altered or enlarged with a building permit from the Building Inspection Division if the alteration meets the required setbacks.

Alterations that do not change the footprint of a structure such as windows, siding or interior remodels are allowed with a building permit. However, when the alteration does not meet the required setbacks, a variance is required from the Planning Division. For more information please contact Planning and Development Services at (559) 846-936 or visit our office at 850 S. Madera Avenue, Kerman, CA.

16. Can a parcel be subdivided?

Subdivisions must be consistent with the minimum parcel size of the zoning classification and the maximum density of the land use designation. In cases where the zoning classification and land use designation allow for different parcel sizes or density, the most restrictive will apply.

For example, a parcel with an Rl, Residential Low Density land use designation typically has a maximum density of seven dwellings per acre so a one acre parcel could potentially be subdivided into seven parcels. And, if the minimum parcel size allowed by the zone classification was 5,000 square feet per parcel, a seven parcel subdivision would also be consistent with zone classification. However, if the minimum parcel size of the zone classification was 10,000 square feet per parcel, only a four parcel subdivision would be allowed.

For more information please contact Planning and Development Services at (559) 846-936 or visit our office at 850 S. Madera Avenue, Kerman, CA

17. What is the basic process for getting a building permit?

For small scale projects such as new roofs or new electrical service, building permits can be issued the same day. These are commonly known as over the counter permits and are issued that same day. For other larger scale projects, building permits usually take two to three months for a typical project, and follow seven basic steps.

Application Submittal – At a minimum, a property owner submits a project description and plot plan to the Building Division for review. Complete construction plans are often submitted but not required at this step.
Preliminary Investigation – Building Division staff review the submittal for site suitability and other permit requirements. Application fees are collected at this time.
Presite Inspection – In coordination with the applicant, a Building Inspector visits the project site to confirm the features shown on the plot plan. The applicant is provided a copy of the presite inspection report from the Building Inspector.
Referrals – Once the plot plan is complete and construction plan have been received, the application is sent to other reviewing agencies such as the Environmental Health Division and Public Works Department.
Construction Plan Review – A Plan Checker reviews the construction plans for conformance with state building codes. This step often involves revisions to the construction plans.
Permit Issuance – After the referrals are returned by the reviewing agencies and construction plans have been approved, the permit may be issued to the applicant. Any final plan check and permit issuance fees are collected at this time.
Inspections – During construction, Building Inspectors regularly visit the project site to assure conformance with the approved construction plans.

For more information on the building permit process please call Planning and Development Services at (559) 846-936 or visit our office at 850 S. Madera Avenue, Kerman, CA.

18. What is the basic process for getting a planning permit?

Planning permits follow these basic steps.

Application Assistance – An applicant meets with planning staff to review the project proposal. Applicants receive an overview of the permit process and are provided with a list of application submittal requirements, estimates of permit fees and processing time.|

Application Submittal – An applicant submits a completed application form along with copies of project plans and supplemental documents. Fees are collected at this time.

File Opening & Referral – Planning Division staff generate maps and other documents and send copies of the application to referral agencies for comment.

Staff Report – After the referrals are returned by the reviewing agencies, Planning Division Staff compiles a staff report for the decision-maker. Projects that involve environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act have additional reports documenting environmental impacts.

Public Notification – If required, notice of pending decisions are sent directly to surrounding property owners and published in the newspaper.

Decision – Depending on project type, the decision-maker can be the Director, Zoning Administrator, Planning Commission or City Council. Other than decisions made by the Director, public hearings are conducted where public testimony is received.

Appeals – After a decision is made, affected parties may appeal the decision within a certain time period. Appeal periods vary depending on the project type. The permit becomes effective upon completion of the appeal period. Any unpaid fees are invoiced at this time.

Post Approval Conditions – Most permits are approved with specific conditions. Conformance with permit conditions is coordinated between the applicant and Planning Division staff. The project is not complete until all required conditions are met.

For more information on the planning permit process please contact Planning and Development Services at (559) 846-936 or visit our office at 850 S. Madera Avenue, Kerman, CA.

19. What are typical fees for planning permit?

Fees depend on project type and location. The Planning and Development Services Department also collects fees on behalf of other participating agencies. The most current fee schedule can be found on our Planning and Development Application.

20. How do I get help applying for a planning permit?

The Planning and Development Services Department offers two services to assist with the planning permit application process. Planning Division staff provides direction to applicants regarding application submittal requirements, estimates of permit fees and processing time, and an overview of the permit process. They also assist with filling out the application form, provides application documents such as plot plans and compiles other essential documents.

21. What is the difference between a principally permitted use and a conditionally permitted use?

Typically, if a use is principally permitted in the zoning code, the use does not require a permit from the Planning Division. Construction of structures still requires a building permit; however, in some cases a discretionary permit from the Planning Division is generally required, even if a use is principally permitted.

Uses that are conditionally permitted in the zoning code always require a discretionary permit from the Planning Division. Examples of discretionary permits include Conditional Use Permits and Special Permits.

22. What is the process for annexing a parcel into a City?

The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) is responsible for review and approval of annexations. The city, county and LAFCo work together in reviewing proposed annexations.

23. Does the County enforce covenants, conditions, or restrictions in subdivisions?

No. These deed restrictions are private agreements, and enforced by the property owner. Deed restrictions can be researched through a title company or the Fresno County Recorder’s Office.