- How do I determine where my property lines are?
A property survey is the most accurate way to determine exactly where the property lines are. Contact a licensed land surveyor or licensed engineer to prepare a property survey. The Planning Department will only have a copy of a property survey if a survey was submitted as part of a Planning application.
- Are there any easements on my property?
Please review the title report for your property. The City does not maintain a list of all easements on properties in Orinda.
- How do I get a copy of my title report?
Contact a title company to obtain the title report for your property. The Planning Department would only have a copy of the title report if it was submitted as part of an application.
- How do I obtain a copy of the original plans when my home was built?
To obtain approved building permit plans for your home, submit a Records Request with Contra Costa County. Building services are provided by Contra Costa County and the City does not maintain copies of approved building permit plan sets.
- How do I apply for a new address or change my existing address?
Addresses are assigned by the Moraga Orinda Fire District (MOFD). Submit an Application for New Address or Change in Address to MOFD.
- What are the rules for leaving out garbage or trash bins?
Garbage cans must be reasonably screened, where practical, from a public street or the vicinity of the property, except during times allocated for regularly scheduled collection.
- What can I do if my neighbor has a neglected swimming pool?
Submit a service request to Contra Costa County Vector Control.
- Can I place a storage pod or container on the street in front of my property?
Please contact the Public Works Department for more information.
- When is a soils report required?
The Planning Department requires a soils report for all new homes. Certain projects may also require a soils report if soil stability is a concern. Contact Contra Costa County Building Department to determine what projects will require a soils report as part of a building permit application.
- How do I apply for a business license?
The City does not have a business license requirement, but a business registration program. Apply for a business registration at https://orinda.hdlgov.com/.
- How do I display a banner at the BART overpass?
Submit a BART Banner Application by clicking here.
- Do I need a permit for a garage sale?
No permit is required for a garage sale. A maximum of two garage sales are allowed per calendar year. Any signage for the garage sale shall be removed after the event.
- Can I run my business out of my home?
You are allowed to conduct limited commercial or professional activities on a residential property if you comply with all of the home occupation requirements. Complete the Home Occupation Application and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What are the allowed construction hours?
Monday to Friday - 8am to 6pm.
Saturday - 10am to 5pm.
Sunday - 10am to 5pm. Only minor maintenance and improvement projects conducted by no more than 2 people, one of whom resides on the property full-time.
Weekends - Heavy equipment usage on residential construction is prohibited. Two one-day exceptions may be requested per year.
- What are the allowed hours for yard maintenance?
Weekdays. Monday through Friday between the hours of eight a.m. and six p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays. Saturday and Sunday between the hours of ten a.m. and five p.m., except that use of a chainsaw, wood chipper or gas powered leaf blower is prohibited on Sundays
- What can I do about my neighbor's dog barking all the time?
Submit a request for a noisy animal to Contra Costa County Animal Services.
- Can I have horses on my property?
Horses are only allowed on properties of at least 40,000 square-feet. One horse is allowed for each 20,000 square-feet of net lot size.
- Can I have chickens on my property?
Chickens are only allowed on properties of at least 20,000 square-feet.
- Can I build a chicken coop on my property?
Yes, chicken coops are allowed. First, confirm that your property is permitted to have chickens. Chickens are only allowed on properties of at least 20,000 square-feet. The chicken coop must be set back not less than sixty (60) feet from the front property line or any street line, and shall be not less than forty (40) feet from any side or rear property line.
- Can I store my RV, trailer, camper, or boat on my property?
It may only be stored on your residential property if the vehicle or equipment is adequately screened from view. For vehicles over six (6) feet high, at least seventy (70) percent of the height shall be screened. No vehicle or equipment may be placed within the minimum side yard setback area unless it maintains a minimum five-foot setback from the property line.
- What are the parking requirements?
Residential properties are required to provide two enclosed parking spaces and two unenclosed parking spaces. Each parking space must have a minimum 9'x19' dimension. The enclosed parking spaces are typically provided in a two-car garage and the unclosed enclosed spaces are typically the driveway spaces in front of the garage. If a project proposes to reduce the number of required parking spaces, an Exception Permit will be required. If the project includes an ADU, per state law, conversion of a garage into an ADU does not require the parking spaces to be replaced.
- Do I need a permit for a fence?
A permit is not required for a fence if it meets the following requirements:
- A fence located within five feet of a property line/right-of-way boundary with street frontage must be constructed completely of an open material, such as lattice or wrought iron, and shall not exceed a height of four feet.
- Elsewhere, a fence shall not exceed six feet in height.
An Exception Permit is required for a fence that would exceed the maximum height requirements.
- Do I need a permit to install a electric vehicle (EV) charger?
Yes, submit your building permit application to Contra Costa County here. Planning review is not required for an EV charger.
- Do I need to submit my building permit revisions to the Planning Department?
Depending on the scope of the revisions, your project may or may not require Planning Department approval. Typically, any exterior changes will require Planning approval. Minor interior changes such as room reconfiguration, structural changes, or relocation of plumbing connections do not require Planning approval.
- Do my plans need to be prepared by a licensed architect or engineer?
The Planning Department does not require plans to be prepared by a licensed architect or engineer. See Contra Costa County Building Department's handout for When Is A Licensed Professional Required.
- How do I renew an expired building permit?
Submit a Building Permit Renewal Request to Contra Costa County.
- How do I check if my neighbor has building permits for the work they are doing?
Visit Contra Costa County's ePermits website to view the current and past building permit history of any address in Orinda. Note that some projects do not require a building permit. See the list of projects exempt from a building permit here. If you believe work is being done without an active building permit, submit a Code Enforcement Form.
- What are the requirements for a deck?
A deck under thirty (30) inches above existing or finished grade, whichever is lower, may encroach into any required setback. A deck greater than 30 inches above grade must maintain a minimum 20' setback from any street frontage and a minimum 5' side and rear yard setback. A deck that is greater than 6' above greater and more than 200 square-feet in size will require an Elevated Deck Permit .
A deck does not require a building permit if it meets all of the following criteria: Decks pertinent to R3 and U occupancies not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30” above grade at any point, are not attached to a dwelling, and do not serve the exit door required by code. See the Construction Work Not Requiring A Building Permit list for more information.
- What are the requirements for a shed?
A shed is referred to as an accessory structure in the Orinda Municipal Code. A shed must meet the accessory structure setbacks, based on the setbacks for the primary residence. See the Development Standards Handout to determine what your property's setbacks are. A shed less than 120 square-feet with no plumbing or electricity does not require a building permit. All sheds, even those that do not require a building permit, must conform to the setback requirements.
- What are the requirements for a retaining wall?
A retaining wall greater than 3' in height will require a building permit. A retaining wall shall be limited to four feet if it is: (1) within ten feet of any property line; or (2) in the minimum required yard setback for the subject lot, whichever is greater. Elsewhere, a retaining wall shall be no higher than eight feet. Unless there is a minimum horizontal separation of at least four feet between individual retaining walls or fences and retaining walls, a grouping of walls and a grouping of one or more walls and fences shall be seen as a single structure for determining height limits. A retaining wall that will exceed the maximum height requirements will require an Exception Permit.
- What are the requirements for a pool?
A pool must maintain a minimum 5' side and rear yard setback. Pool equipment must be located closer to the subject property than adjacent properties. A building permit is required for a pool.
- What are the requirements for a tennis court or basketball court?
Sports courts must meet the following requirements:
- Minimum setback from any street frontage is fifty (50) feet.
- The side yard setback at the side and rear of the lot shall be at least five feet.
- The sports court shall be at least five feet from the main structure.
- The maximum fence height of the portion built within the minimum setback of the subject lot shall be twelve (12) feet.
- The installation of outdoor lighting at a height of seven feet or more requires use permit approval.
- Can I add a second story to my home?
Yes, you may add a second story to an existing single-story residence. A new second story requires Design Review.
- Do I need a permit to repave my driveway or expand my driveway?
Yes, you will need a Encroachment Permit from the Public Works Department if your property is on a public street.
- How close can I build next to a creek or water channel?
Depending on the type of creek or water channel, there will be a 0-45' setback measured from the top of bank. See Orinda Municipal Code Section 17.4.6 for a description of the creek types and applicable setbacks. If you have a potential project, you may request a Creek Setback Determination.
- How do I know what zoning district my property is in?
Follow the instructions in the Zoning District Handout to determine what zoning district your property is in.
- How do I determine what my property setbacks are?
Use the Development Standards Handout to determine what your property setbacks are.
- What is the maximum size I can build my home?
For properties of 20,000 square-feet or greater, the maximum floor area is 20% of the total property size up to a maximum of 7,000 square feet. For properties under 20,000 square-feet in size, see Orinda Municipal Code Section 17.6.8 to determine the maximum floor area based on the lot size. See Orinda Municipal Code Section 17.6 for more information on how floor area is calculated. If a proposed project will exceed the maximum floor area for the property, Design Review will be required.
- What is the maximum building height for my home?
There is a maximum 27' building height and a maximum 35' aggregate building height. See Orinda Municipal Code Section 17.4.19 for graphics of how height is measured. If your project will exceed the maximum building height or aggregate building height, an Exception Permit will be required.
- I own multiple properties. How can I confirm these were legally created parcels?
A Certificate of Compliance is required in order for the City to confirm if the parcels were legally created through the Subdivision Map Act.
- How do I connect my property to the sewer system?
Contact Central Contra Costa Sanitary District for questions regarding the sewer system.
- Can I put a septic tank on my property?
Contact Central Contra Costa Sanitary District for questions regarding septic tanks.
- When do I need a permit to remove a tree?
A tree removal permit is required to remove the following trees:
- On Vacant Property - Any tree species 6 inches or more in diameter.
- On Developed Property - Any oak species 12 inches or more in diameter.
- Riparian trees - Trees 4.5 inches in diameter within 30 feet of the bank of a water course.
- Any tree required as condition of development approval, regardless of species.
See the Tree Ordinance Handout for more information.
- Do I need a permit to remove a tree that fell down?
No, a tree that has fallen down does not need a tree removal permit for removal.
- Do I need a permit to remove a dead tree?
No, a dead tree is not a protected tree and does not require a tree removal permit.
- Do I need a permit to remove a tree that is dying or in danger of falling?
If the tree is determined by a certified arborist to be in imminent danger to health or property, the Planning Department will issue an Emergency Tree Removal Letter that exempts you from the tree removal permit. There is no fee for an Emergency Tree Removal Letter. Please send your arborist report and photo(s) to email@example.com.
- My neighbor's tree is leaning over my property. Can the City contact my neighbor?
Tree concerns between private properties such as a leaning tree is a civil issue that the City is not involved with.
- My neighbor's tree is blocking my view. Can the City require my neighbor to trim their tree?
View preservation is a civil issue. While the City will not get involved in a civil issue, guidance for property owners can be found in Orinda Municipal Code Section 17.22.
- Are there certain trees or plants that are not allowed to be planted in Orinda?
Yes, the City maintains a list of disallowed plants due to the risk of wildfires. See the disallowed plant list in the Tree Ordinance Handout.