July 17, 2019

Conditional Use Permit


Certain uses of land or types of businesses specified in the Kern County Zoning Ordinance require a conditional use permit application. Approval of a conditional use permit requires the submittal of an application form, plot plan, and payment of filing fees.

The conditional use permit application requires a public hearing before the Kern County Planning Commission, and all surrounding property owners within 500 feet of the site of the proposed use are notified of the public hearing by mail. In instances where a majority of parcels abutting the project site are one acre or larger in size, the notification radius is expanded to 1,000 feet of the site. Once a condi-tional use permit is approved, the conditional use permit provides that certain conditions be satisfied before building permits can be issued or the use otherwise commences. Conditional use permits are normally permanent approvals and may be transferred automatically to future property owners of the site.


Applications for a conditional use permit may be obtained at the Planning Department counter or mailed upon request. The application form requires the signature of the property owner and a complete legal description for the property. A plot plan, drawn to scale, is also required to process the application. The plot plan should show all existing and proposed structures. A “Hazardous Waste Site Verification Statement” also must be submitted with the application.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that an environmental study be prepared for some types of projects for which a conditional use permit is needed. The environmental study can take the form of a Negative Declaration, a Mitigated Negative Declaration, or an Environmental Impact Report. If the Department determines that an environ-mental study will be required, an applicant also will be requested to submit a completed Environmental Information Form, which asks more specific questions about the proposed use and the affected property. Technical reports, such as biota reports, traffic studies, archaeological reports, and groundwater reports, may also be required when an environmental study is performed.

In order to determine whether or not an environmental study will be required, the applicant may request an appointment to meet with a member of the planning staff; otherwise, this determination will be made when a preliminary review of the application has been completed.


After a conditional use permit application has been formally accepted as complete, the application will be set for a public hearing, except in cases where an environmental study is required, in which case the environmental study will be prepared before a public hearing date is set. Under normal circumstances, the Kern County Planning Commission will be the decision-making body to act on the conditional use permit application. This board meets on the second and fourth Thursdays (excluding holidays) of every month and begins its meetings at 7:00 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Chambers located on the first floor of the Kern County Administrative Center, 1115 Truxtun Avenue, Bakersfield.

After the hearing date for consideration of the conditional use permit application has been selected, a “staff report” will be prepared. The staff report contains information on the proposed use, an analysis of the proposed use in relation to surrounding properties, and a staff recommendation to the decision-making body. Recommended conditions of approval are included as part of the staff report. Copies of the staff report are normally available four (4) to five (5) working days before the scheduled public hearing. Before the staff report is formally completed, the staff planner will contact the applicant to discuss staff’s recommendation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to carefully read the recommended conditions attached to the staff report and to contact the staff planner with any questions or concerns prior to the date of the public hearing.


Before the application is accepted as complete, a preliminary review of the application is performed by the planning staff to make sure all forms are completed and that information necessary to process the application has been submitted. Applicants should allow approximately two (2) weeks for completion of the preliminary review of the application. In most cases where an environmental study may be needed, a committee composed of various county agencies will perform the preliminary review of the application at an informal meeting (Pre-Application Review Committee). Affected applicants will be contacted in advance of the committee meeting and invited to participate in the review of the application at the meeting.

If the application is determined to be incomplete, the applicant will be notified in writing of what additional information will be required to complete the application. A typical conditional use permit will require six (6) weeks to process from the time an application is accepted as complete. In cases where a Negative Declaration is required, processing time will be approximately four (4) months.

Where an Environmental Impact Report is required, applicants should allow ten (10) to twelve (12) months to process the application.


After a decision is made on the conditional use permit application, there is a fourteen (14) day appeal period during which the applicant, or any other affected party, may appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors. During this appeal period, no permits can be issued related to the approved use.

An approved conditional use permit does not include approval of grading or building permits that may also be needed for the proposed development. Mobilehomes, for example, often require approval of a conditional use permit, but an installation permit must also be obtained from the Building Inspection Division of the Engineering and Survey Services Department.

Before permits can be obtained, the applicant will have to demonstrate that any conditions of approval which must be satisfied prior to the issuance of permits have been satisfied. Staff is available to answer any questions you may have regarding the conditional use permit process. Please telephone (661) 862-8600 if the Department can be of assistance.

FORM 721 (1/2013)

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