Are special development standards required for every project?

It is important to note that not all of the development standards are required for every project. During the “plan check” process of the building permit or grading permit, a planner will review the plans for compliance with the Zoning Ordinance.

The Special Development Standards are only required in the herein listed zoning districts. However, not every project within these zoning districts is subject to the standards. There are a number of “exceptions” or “exemptions” from the standards, as follows:

  • Special development standards are not imposed if the project is a building addition that constitutes less than fifty percent (50%) of the existing gross building area (unless the addition results in an increase in the number of dwelling units).
  • Special development standards are not imposed for changing one (1) permitted use to another permitted use where no building permit is required unless it is an intensification of a use.
  • Special development standards are not required for the construction of a single-family residence where it is the only use of the property.
  • The Director of the Kern County Planning and Natural Resources Department may waive certain requirements if “unusual circumstances” exist that prevent compliance (the expense of improvements does not constitute “unusual circumstances”).

Special Development Standards are aimed at gaining limited improvements for projects that involve major expansions or new development of vacant lots. Special Development Standards are imposed as conditions of approval when a “commercial” type project requires a public hearing for a conditional use permit or a precise development plan.