Step by Step Development Guide

There are six basic steps in Brea’s development process. All of these steps may not be necessary depending on the nature of your project. A Brea planner will assist and help you determine the steps necessary for your project.

Planning Application Submission

At the City of Brea, the development process begins and is driven by the Planning Division. If required, the first step is to complete the Uniform Application and any additional forms required, which should accompany this packet. The Planning Division only accepts electronic submittal via In addition,  a deposit for planning services is required. 

This phase is referred to as the Planning Submission process. It is a good idea to have a planner review the application and other forms with you before you complete the packet of information. You may or may not have to complete some additional forms such as an Environmental Information Form or a Hazardous Waste and Substance Site Statement. 

Please make sure all information on the application is legible and includes the property owner or the legal agent’s signature. Applications without the proper signature will delay processing.

You will be required to pay a deposit when you turn in your application. Refer to the fee schedule. The City of Brea has a full cost recovery program with an established hourly rate, you pay only the cost of the actual work. Typically this system has been found to save applicants’ money but may require more upfront money than you’re accustomed to. There may be other fees that apply. Any unused funds will be returned to you and/or additional fees may be required. The deposit will vary depending on the complexity of your project.

Planning Plan Review

Submitting your application plans and making the required deposit starts the Plan Review Process. At this point a planner will be assigned as your project leader. He or she will serve as your liaison helping to expedite the permit process and coordinating any department reviews required. Your project leader will complete the Plan Review Checklist, which ensures you’ve accurately completed the application and any other necessary forms.

Once you submit an application, your project leader will coordinate the necessary reviews by distributing your Application Submission to the appropriate city divisions. This is called Plan Review. You will not have to complete a new Application Submission for each division. However, there may be an occasion when a staff person other than your project leader may call you regarding your project.

The goals of Plan Review are to:

  • Ensure that your application packet is complete (for the Planning Commission review, if applicable)
  • Analyze the project and, when applicable, formulate recommendations for Planning Commission or City Council approvals (referred to as discretionary approvals)
  • Verify compliance with zoning and other regulations

During this process, your project leader will also review any environmental issues associated with your project, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  All discretionary projects require an Environmental Review. Your project leader will determine the applicable process for your project.

Planning Commission Approval

If it is determined that your project required discretionary action (an action requiring Planning Commission approval), it will be scheduled on the Planning Commission’s agenda and public notice will be given. Property owners within 500 feet of your proposed project will also be notified.

Planning commissioners are appointed by the City Council and provide community representation regarding planning projects. However, their approval is not required on all development projects.

If a public hearing is held, you will have an opportunity to speak before the commission. The public may also provide comments and express any concerns about the project. You will want to be sure to work out any potential problems with neighboring residents or business owners before the Planning Commission meeting.

You, or anyone else, may appeal most Planning Commission actions to the City Council. In some circumstances, the project may require City Council approval. The project’s location and use dictate what level of review is required. Still other projects may never go to either the Planning Commission or the City Council.

Planning Commission meetings are open to the public. The Planning Commission meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, Plaza Level, Brea Civic and Cultural Center.

Building Plan Check

Plan Check is a function of the Building Division. At this point, All technical drawings (including structural calculations and a soils report, etc.) must be submitted to . The city charges an initial deposit to begin the application process. Future city services are charged as needed on an hourly rate. This step verifies that all building, fire, mechanical, plumbing and electrical code requirements are fulfilled in compliance with Brea’s Building and Zoning codes. Your Application Submittal will be reviewed by the city’s Engineering, Planning, Fire, and Building divisions.

Any requirements or problems identified during the Building Plan Review process should now be completed or rectified. For example: If you were told in Plan Review that you need a grading plan, the plan should be complete and ready for review during this Plan Check process. The city’s Plan Checker will help you with the requirements for this phase. Simply call 714-990-7765. Although your project leader is still a good resource, you will now be working with the Plan Checker who leads this portion of the process.

Once your Application Submission is complete, the city's turnaround times vary depending on the project. The following are typical timelines:

  • Minor repair projects - 10 days
  • Tenant improvements, room additions - 15 days
  • Full development projects - 60 days

Building Permit & Inspections

Once the Building Plan Check process is complete, a building permit is required before you begin construction. In some case more than one permit may be required. 

Regular inspections are required throughout construction. You can request an appointment for an inspection be calling our 24-hour hotline at 714-990-7668. The city will schedule the inspection within 48 hours of your request. Typically the same building inspector will be assigned to you throughout the project. The final inspection involving all appropriate departments will be coordinated through your building inspector.

Occupancy Permit (Certificate of Occupancy)

An occupancy permit is required along with the appropriate fee charged by the city prior to occupying your building. Buildings or structures cannot be used or occupied until the building official has issued a Certificate of Occupancy. This form records vital information required by the City of Brea and other agencies such as the California Air Quality Management District. Forms are available at the Community Development Department.

Sign Permit

A sign permit is required prior to placement, erection, reconstruction, alteration, or display of any sign, whether temporary or permanent, including promotional signage such as flags.

The Fire Department conducts annual fire inspections of businesses. Certain processes require the issuance of a permit which is posted at your business. For fire inspection or permit information, call 714-990-7655.