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Planning Consultations
If you have a question or issue that can be briefly addressed (within about 15 minutes), our Planning staff provide no-cost guidance by phone or at the Planning Counter in the Development Services Permit Center. When you need a deeper level of guidance, consider a Planning Consultation or a Preliminary Review. If you need planning guidance for a small business, our Small Business Ally team provides no-cost assistance in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.
  • Brief Consultation 
  • Planning Consultation 
  • Preliminary Review 
  • Small Business Consultation 

Brief Consultation
No fee. No appointment required. We speak your language.

This is the best place to start for questions on any type of project. If you have questions about a planning process or about zoning, development standards, tree removals, or single-family/duplex  projects, such as constructing a new home, addition, or ADU (secondary unit), we’re here to help. Due to a high volume of customers, Brief Consultations are limited to about 15 minutes. For a Brief Consultation with a City Planner:

Planning Consultation
Fee applies for 1-hour consultation, see the Planning Fee Schedule.

Perhaps you’re wondering about the development potential of a parcel in San José, or you’re seeking insight on a potential project in relation to the development review process. In such cases, you may benefit from a Planning Consultation. During this one-hour consultation, Planning staff can provide verbal, high-level guidance on land use possibilities, project feasibility, and other considerations, such as City codes and policies, before you invest in initiating a project. These meetings are not intended for detailed feedback on site layout, architecture style, or cross-departmental feedback. For that level of consideration or for a substantial analysis with written feedback, we would direct you to the Preliminary Review option.

To Request a Planning Consultation:
  • Request a Planning Consultation
  • Be ready to provide:
    • Contact information
    • Site Address or Location 
    • Assessor’s Parcel Number
    • Discussion Description – List the questions and topics you would like to discuss so that staff may prepare for their meeting with you. 
  • Please allow up to a week for staff to respond to the request.
  • After you request the consultation, you'll receive an invoice by email, to be paid in advance of the meeting.

Preliminary Review Consultation
Fee based. Requires submitting the Preliminary Review Request form (which outlines fees) in person at the Development Services Permit Center.

Preliminary Review is an optional consultation for complex or large-scale projects that have evolved to having a general site layout and design concept, but the applicant has not yet formalized plans and submitted them to the City. Signature Projects are required to undergo Preliminary Review prior to submittal of a formal application.

For a Preliminary Review consultation, you will select the participation of staff from various departments through the Preliminary Review Request form. These staff will provide you with detailed feedback on the proposed site layout and architecture concept, and will identify issues that might arise during the plan review process. This helps applicants make final design decisions that enable the project to go through the plan review and public hearing processes more smoothly. The need for plan iterations are reduced, thus saving time and costs for the applicant. The analyses generated for a Preliminary Review are generally valid for six months.

To initiate a Preliminary Review:

Small Business Consultation
Consultations and guidance for small businesses. No fee. We speak English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Our Small Business Allies will advise you on how to start a business, find a location, and obtain building permits to improve your business location.