The Ins-and-Outs of Planning Commission

Large new developments and other high-volume projects often require a hearing with the local planning commission to determine if the project fits into the city’s master plan. Planning commission meetings are open to the general public and allow affected parties, such as neighbors and nearby property owners, to make comments and provide input. We have attended and represented clients at many planning commission meetings, so we are here to break it down for our readers and disclose the ins and outs of planning commission.

What is a Planning Commission?

Planning commissions are comprised of five or seven representatives who are appointed to advise on land use and planning. Because planning commissioners must vote together on decisions, having either five or seven members ensures that there are an odd number of voters thereby avoiding a deadlock. Commission meetings are typically held weekly or bi-monthly at a set time with an agenda available to the public on the local city’s website.

What is a Planning Staff Report?

Before a planning commission takes place, a staff planner will have received the proposed project information and prepared a staff report. A planning staff report provides concise and detailed information on the overall project such as background information, relevant zoning information, reports, studies, and more. In addition, a planning staff report will often include a recommendation for the commission’s upcoming vote. The staff report is presented to the planning commission at the beginning of each agenda item during a regular planning commission meeting.

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Planning Commission Process

The rules and operating procedures of planning commission meetings vary based on jurisdiction, but they typically follow a general structure. In most cases, after a planning representative presents the staff report to the commission, the applicants will appear before the commission. This gives commissioners the opportunity to ask questions and receive any details that were lacking from the staff report. Finally, members of the public are permitted to make comments for or against the proposed project.

When the staff planner, the applicant(s), and the public have concluded their presentations, the planning commission will cast a vote in approval or opposition of the project. Projects that are approved may be approved with a certain set of conditions that the project must adhere to. In the case that a commission meeting is extensive, requiring a significant amount of time, planning commissions can be continued to a later point in time.

Benefits of Planning Commission Process

The planning commission process allows jurisdictions to ensure that proposed construction projects are well-vetted and correspond appropriately with the municipal code. Through providing this process, the city can hold developers in the community accountable for safe and efficient building and work to ensure that wasteful and/or harmful projects are avoided. Furthermore, planning commission meetings allow for a public discussion and open dialogue with commission representatives.

About Permit Advisors

Permit Advisors Inc. is a complete permit, entitlement consulting, and expediting firm based out of Beverly Hills, CA. We go beyond just submitting plans, as you may have experienced with previous expediters. We have established strong relationships with officials of many municipalities and have numerous time and cost-saving strategies that we implement to efficiently complete projects. We aim to secure all permits as quickly as possible. We keep track of all aspects of the permitting process and make sure that the project is given full attention by everyone on the team. We responsibly update clients and ensure that lines of communication are open between the jurisdiction, consultants, and the client. Contact us today for a consultation


Butler, S. (2016, March 23). 8 Key Components of an Effective Planning-related Staff Report. Retrieved from

Planning Commission. Retrieved from

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Sep 7, 2018 By admin