If you are opening or expanding a business in San José, you will need to familiarize yourself with the City’s planning and zoning regulations. Some businesses, such as restaurants and bars, must comply with County health regulations.
Being informed is your best strategy for navigating and mastering the steps to opening or expanding your business. Review the “open or expand your business” flowchart.
Step 1: Meet your coach
Learn about available business coaching to assist you through San Jose's Development Services process which includes plan review, inspections, and obtaining building permits for new construction or renovations to a building.
How long do building improvements typically take?
Although business owners’ needs vary, a typical timeline for building improvements can range from 12 to 20 weeks or more.
For more information:
What fees can I expect?
Budget for City of San José permit, inspections and other fees. If you are interested in estimating construction taxes and building permit fees you can submit a request to the Building Division for a permit fee estimate.
Depending on the type of business (e.g., restaurants), there may also be fees charged by County of Santa Clara.
In addition Sewer fees may apply to your business. Find more information on sewer fees.
Obtain a firm quote when you hire any professional services and construction firms.
Step 2: Check zoning
Step 3: Hire a professional
If your coach advises that you must go through a planning review process, you will probably want to hire professionals to help you design and build your site improvements.
Step 4: Develop plans for submittal to City
The architect, engineer and building contractor you select can help you comply with City regulations (and any County regulations). These professionals can develop scaled site plans, elevations and floor plans for submittal.
Resources to assist with plan submittal
- Restaurant or Food Service Plan Information
- Tenant Improvement with Change of 'Occupancy' or 'Use' Plan Information
Step 5: City review
City professionals from Planning, Building and Code Enforcement and from Fire, Public Works and other departments will review your plans to help you comply with the City’s planning and building codes and ordinances. If the business must comply with County health regulations, the City and County reviews can occur simultaneously.
A wastewater plan check may be required for both food service and non-food service businesses.
To secure plumbing permits or to meet other requirements, contact Environmental Services for a plan check and approval stamp.
Step 6: City signoff and issuance of permits
Once the reviews in Step 5 are complete, the City can sign off on your plans and issue necessary building permits.
Step 7: Construction
Once you are issued permits, your construction can begin.
Step 8: City inspections
City inspectors will assess whether your construction meets professional standards. Certain businesses such as restaurants must also have inspections from the County Department of Environmental Health.
Step 9: Congratulations
Congratulations! You’ve successfully started or expanded your business in San José.
Links to help you to understand what is needed
- Planning in San José is an introduction to land use planning and development for anyone unfamiliar with the processes as well as for those already acquainted with planning who want to learn more.
- City of San José permit fees
- Resources Checklist links to helpful information about getting started with a property evaluation, project application, and other tasks.
- Planning Guides
- Design Guidelines
- Illustrative Diagrams
- Environmental Services Department
- County of Santa Clara Department of Environmental Health, Consumer Protection Division
- Planning applications and forms
- Planning Application Filing Fee Schedule
- Owner Builder Policy
- Operational Permits
- Development Policies