Multi-Unit Residence (3+ Unit Apartment Complexes)

For new multi-family residences of 3 units or more, regular Design Review (DR) and a Building Permit is required. The application will start with review by the Bureau of Planning.

Date Posted: November 17th, 2020 @ 4:38 PM
Last Updated: May 13th, 2022 @ 6:10 PM

When Are Permits Required?

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Regular Design Review (DR) is required for the construction of three or more new primary dwelling units, other than an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU). In addition to other possible required approvals, the project must obtain Design Review approval from the Bureau of Planning prior to submitting for a Building Permit. The Building Permit for a new 3+ unit building and permits for all related Mechanical, Electrical or Plumbing (MEP) work within the building must be obtained before any construction work begins.

Please note that separate permits will also be required from the Oakland Department of Transportation, Oakland Fire Department, and Oakland Public Works depending on the scope of the project.

Who Can Be Issued a Permit?

  1. Contractors who are licensed by the State of California with a classification appropriate for the work that will be performed and have a current Business Tax Certificate.
  2. Owners of a building or their legal representative.

How to Apply

Pre-Application Meeting Recommended:

For complex projects, a pre-application meeting with a Planner is recommended. This will provide an opportunity for feedback from City staff on complicated projects or proposals. Pre-application could involve discussion with staff about the scope and complexity of the project or could involve a formal Zoning Pre-Application Review session with a fee. Please call (510) 238-3911 for more information.


Ready to get started? First, make sure you are registered and activated at our Online Permit Center. For instructions, please visit our Planning & Building Video Tutorials webpage.

STEP ONE: Design Review

  • Submit a Zoning Worksheet through our Online Permit Center*
    * NOTE: You will be taken to our login page first before you can submit a Zoning Worksheet
  • In the Worksheet, upload your completed Basic Application for Development Review, Design Review Findings, and all associated plans and documents
  • A planner will review your submission
  • Please note that public notice of your project will be required
  • Once approved, you will receive a decision letter from the Bureau of Planning

STEP TWO: Building Permit

Refer to the following as applicable:


Once we receive your application, staff will contact you regarding your intake appointment during which your submittal will be reviewed for completeness. It is recommended that you are available for questions during that appointment, but not required. For the latest processing estimates, please see our Average Permit Processing Turnaround Times webpage.


Call (510) 238-3891 or find quick answers through our Permit Questions Portal.

Additional Resources