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Homeowners can obtain permits and undertake construction themselves once plans are approved by the City however it is advisable for homeowners to work with a licensed contractor during the construction phase of the project.
Any work exceeding $500 in labor and materials is required to be done by a licensed contractor unless solely done by the homeowner.
Always hire a licensed contractor and request his/her license number. You can contact various State agencies to obtain information:
Architects – Contact the California Board of Architectural Examiners (www.cab.ca.gov) or call (916) 445-3394.
Engineers – Contact the California Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (www.dcs.ca.gov/pels) or call (916) 263-2222.
Contractors – Contractors State License Board (www.cslb.ca.gov) or call 1-800-321-2752.
If a permit is not paid for within 180 days of its approval the project is cancelled and the homeowner is responsible for paying the plan review fees. Once the project is canceled the City destroys any plans that have been submitted.
If a homeowner or contractor pays for a permit and does not call for an inspection within 180 days or more than 180 days elapses between inspections then the permit expires. A permit can be renewed one time if it has been less than one year since it expired by paying the City one half of the original permit fees. If the permit has been expired for more than a year and all rough inspections have been performed then a new permit to final may be issued. If the permit was expired without rough inspections contact the Building Official to discuss your project.
The value of construction is based on a fee schedule adopted by the City Council. The fee schedule specifies the value per square foot depending on the type of construction.
Fees for other types of permits such as electrical, plumbing and mechanical are also based on the fee schedule adopted by the City Council.
The State Building Code requires permits any time a building or structure is “erected, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, improved, removed, converted or demolished…”. That is very large in scope.
There are projects that may not require building permits but may require other types of approval by the City and meet other requirements of the municipal code, such as setbacks and lot coverage limits.
Projects exempted from building permits are:
Single story, detached accessory buildings such as tool and storage sheds, playhouses and similar uses that do not exceed 120 square feet in floor area. These structures must still meet applicable setbacks and detached structures may also require a use permit;
Fences not exceeding 7 feet in height;
Movable cases, counters and partitions not over 5 feet 9 inches high;
Retaining walls not over 4 feet in height measured form the bottom of the footing to the top of the wall, unless the wall is supporting a surcharge;
Walks and driveways not more than 30 inches above grade and not over any basement or story below. Walks, driveways and landing places must still meet applicable setbacks and lot coverage limits;
Painting, papering and similar finish work;
Window awnings supported by an exterior wall as long as they do not project more than 54 inches from the wall. These structures must still meet applicable setbacks and lot coverage limits;
Prefabricated swimming pools that are less than 24 inches deep. Pools must still meet applicable setback and lot coverage limits.
Decks not exceeding 200 square feet in area, that are not more than 30 inches above grade at any point, are not attached to the dwelling and do not serve the exit door.
Swings and other playground equipment.
Water tanks supported directly upon grade if the capacity does not exceed 5,000 gallons and the ratio of height to diameter or width does not exceed 2 to 1.
Although the items mentioned above may be exempt from a building permit, they may require separate electrical, plumbing or mechanical permits.
If you have a question as to whether your project requires a permit call the Building Department at (408) 354-2805 or visit City Hall.
Public records, City Council resolutions and ordinances, and other information can be requested by submitting the Records and Information Request Form to the City Clerk's Office.
Businesses who are interested in being on the City's vendor list can email the Finance Department with their contact information.
In California, coyotes breed mainly during January, February, and March. The gestation period is about 60-63 days. Young are born March through May, with litter sizes averaging 5-6 pups. Coyotes produce one litter per year. The young are weaned at 5 to 6 weeks and leave the parents at 6 to 9 months. Most adults breed first in their second year. Nonbreeding, yearling, coyotes often stay with the adult parents and help care for the pups. Coyote dens are found in steep banks, rock crevices, sinkholes, and underbrush. Coyote dens are often holes that have been used by badger, skunks, foxes, or other animals with entrances enlarged to about one foot in diameter. Dens vary from 4 to 5 feet deep to 50 feet deep.
The diet of the coyote consists mainly of mice, rats, ground squirrels, gophers, rabbits, and carrion. They also eat insects, reptiles, amphibians, fruits, birds and their eggs, and deer fawns. In some rural areas of California they prey heavily on sheep, cattle, and poultry. In urban and suburban areas, garbage, domestic cats and dogs, other pets, hobby animals, and pet food can be important food items. Coyotes are most active at night and during the early morning and late evening hours. In areas where they are not disturbed by human activities, and during the cooler times of the year, they may be active throughout the day. Urban coyotes are becoming very tolerant of human activities. Young coyotes tend to be more active during daylight hours than adults. Home range size varies depending on food availability.
PREVENTING COYOTE PROBLEMS
Coyotes are attracted to urban/suburban areas by the easy accessibility of food, water, and shelter. Reducing or eliminating the availability of these elements will often encourage coyotes to leave. Garbage can lids should be secured at all times or garbage stored indoors. Pets should be fed during daylight hours and all pet food removed before darkness. Water bowls should be emptied and not left out after dark. Ripe fruits and vegetables should be covered at night or the garden/fruit trees enclosed by a coyote proof fence to prevent access by hungry coyotes. All windfall fruit/vegetables should be picked up daily. In areas where predation on pets has been documented, cats and small dogs should not be left out after dark unless enclosed in a coyote proof enclosure. Food should never intentionally be left out for wild mammals. In suburban areas where livestock such as lambs, piglets, calves, or poultry are raised and coyote predation has been documented, precautions should be taken to prevent further losses. Animals can be brought into barns, sheds, or coyote proof enclosures at night, or in certain instances the confinement areas can be lit at night.
To exclude coyotes, fences should be constructed which are at least 5 1/2 feet tall. Monte Sereno Municipal Code does not permit fences over 6 feet tall. These fences can be made of solid wood, cement blocks, brick, or wire. If net wire fencing is used, the bottom portion should be at least 3 1/2 feet tall with squares smaller than 6 inches. If high tensile fence is used, it should be electrified with a fence charger to prevent coyotes from going through. All fences should have some sort of galvanized wire apron buried at least 4 to 6 inches in the ground which extends out from the fence at least 15 to 20 inches. The apron should be securely attached to the bottom of the fence. Coyotes are very adept diggers and prefer to dig under fences rather than jump them.
Brush and vegetation should be cleared from backyards and adjacent areas to eliminate habitat for prey which could attract coyotes. Landscaping should be pruned on a regular basis. These actions also remove hiding cover used by coyotes to stalk domestic pets. If cats cannot be contained indoors, and predation is viewed as a problem, posts can be installed in open space areas which provide an escape for the cats. These posts should be at least 7 feet tall, made of material that the cat can climb, and have enough space on top for the cat to sit. During the time of the year when adult coyotes are caring for young (May-September), they can be very aggressive when their young are threatened. Domestic dogs are especially vulnerable to attack during this time. Dogs have been attacked when they got too close to a family of coyotes. In urban settings where a den site has been identified, caution should be taken to keep dogs out of the area. These areas should be posted with signs and people concerned about attacks on their dogs should avoid the area. Increased predation on domestic pets can be expected around den sites, and extra precautions should be taken by residents to protect valued domestic cats or small dogs. In some cases a family group of coyotes can be harassed enough to encourage them to move.
Whenever possible, coyotes should be harassed or scared to condition them to avoid humans.
For more information, please visit the Department of Fish and Game’s (www.wildlife.ca.gov), Santa Clara County Vector Control (www.sccgov.org/sites/vector/Pages/vcd.aspx), or Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA at www.svaca.com) or you can call SVACA at (408) 764-0344. Department of Fish and Game’s web site
LIVING WITH MOUNTAIN LIONS
DON'T FEED WILDLIFE: Wildlife in your yard may attract mountain lions that prey upon them.
KEEP PETS SECURE: Pets are easy prey for hungry mountain lions. Keep pets inside and don't feed them outside.
LANDSCAPE FOR SAFETY: Avoid using plants that deer like to eat. If you attract deer, mountain lions may be close by. Remove vegetation that provides good hiding places for lions, especially around children's play areas.
INSTALL OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Keep the perimeter of your house well lit at night…especially along walkways.
KEEP CHILDREN SAFE: Keep a close watch on children whenever they play outdoors. Make sure children are inside before dusk and not outside before dawn. Talk with children about mountain lions and teach them what to do if they encounter one.
ENCOUNTERING A MOUNTAIN LION
DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Stay in groups, with adults supervising children.
KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Mountain lions seem especially drawn to children. Keep children within your sight at all times.
DO NOT APPROACH A LION: Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation with humans. Give them a way to escape.
DO NOT RUN FROM A LION: Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don't panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the lion.
DO NOT CROUCH DOWN OR BEND OVER: A human standing up is just not the right shape for a big cat's prey, but when you squat or bend over you may look like a four-legged prey animal. Avoid squatting, crouching or bending over…even when picking up children.
DO ALL YOU CAN TO APPEAR LARGER: Raise your arms and wave them slowly while speaking firmly in a loud voice. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. The idea is to convince the lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
FIGHT BACK IF ATTACKED: Mountain lions usually try to bite the head or neck. Try to remain standing and face the attacking animal. People have successfully fought back with rocks, sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and even their bare hands.
For more information, please visit the Department of Fish and Game (www.wildlife.ca.gov) or contact Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA at www.svaca.com) or by phone at (408) 764-0344.
City of Monte Sereno @ 408-354-7635 West Valley Clean Water Program @ 408-354-5385 911 (during non-business hours)
Development Standards are available for each of the zones (R-1-8, R-1-20 & R-1-44) in the Planning Department Documents.
A. Any new building exceeding one hundred twenty (120) square feet, except any Accessory Dwelling Unit permitted in accordance with Section 10.06.140.
B. Any addition that adds 500 square feet or more to an existing building or structure in the R-1-8 zoning district or 750 square feet or more to an existing building or structure in the R-1-20 or R-1-44 zoning district
C. Any modification to the roof that results in a new or modified roof design or that increases the roof height of an existing structure by more than 24 inches.
D. Any additions that add 250 square feet or more to the second story of an existing two-story building in the R-1-8 zoning district or 500 square feet or more in the R-1-20 and R-1-44 zoning district .
E. Any additions of a second story to an existing single-story building.
F. The addition of an architectural element to a legally existing light post or entry column if such addition would cause the total height of the light post or entry column to exceed the height limitations outlined in Section 10.17.040. An architectural element may be added to an existing light post or entry column with a site development permit if the height of the architectural element does not exceed one-half of the height (up to 9 feet) of the legally existing light post or entry column. The proposed architectural element shall be setback one (1) foot from the property line for every two (2) feet in height of the architectural element and light post or entry column
G. The construction of a light post or entry column which includes an architectural element if the total height of the light posts or entry column with the architectural element exceeds the height limits outlined in Section 10.17.040. In no event shall the total height of the light post or entry column with the architectural element exceed eight (8) feet. In no event shall the architectural element be taller than one-half of the light post or entry column.
H. The addition of a pedestrian arbor to a legally existing fence or the construction of a fence which includes a pedestrian arbor that exceeds six (6) feet in height. The pedestrian arbor may be added to an existing fence or installed on a new fence with a site development permit if the total height of the pedestrian arbor and fence does not exceed ten (10) feet in height.
Issuance of a site development permit shall be reviewed and acted upon by the Commission at a regular or special meeting.
No Site Development Permit shall be issued unless the Committee makes the following findings:
1. Whether the proposed improvement and/or use is compatible with the character of the surrounding neighborhood in which it would be located.
2. Whether the orientation and location of the buildings take into consideration the visual impact which could result from the proposed improvement and/or use.
3. Whether the proposed improvements, including architecture, are consistent with the City’s design guidelines.
4. If applicable, whether the proposed improvement and/or use will provide for minimum grading and retention of the natural contours of the land then existing in order to protect the natural slope of the lot.
5. If applicable, whether the proposed improvement and/or use provides for:
a. a. Retention of significant trees as defined elsewhere in the Code, unless the findings required by Section 10.15.080 of the Code can be made;
b. Preservation of solar access.
6. If applicable, whether the landscaping for the proposed improvement and or/use emphasizes the use of native materials in the area.
In connection with its review of each of the foregoing matters, the Committee may include in any Site Development Permit such conditions as it may determine to be necessary in order to ameliorate or mitigate identified impacts of the project. Such conditions, without limiting the discretion of the Committee, may include a time limitation, site planning limitations, architectural conditions, setback restrictions, occupancy regulations, landscape regulations or drainage and sewage regulations.
Also look in the Building Department Documents for the Building Permit Submittal Requirements.
Zoning District Minimum Lot Size (Net) R1-8 L = 43,560 square feet/5.45 - .089 S R1-20 L = 43,560 square feet/2.20 - .036 S R1-44 L = 43,560 square feet/1.00 - .016 S Example Calculation for R1-8 with a slope (S) of 29%
L=Minimum Lot Size Required
S= Slope (as a whole number)
See the complete Slope Formula Handout in the Planning Department Documents
Please visit the Invasive Plant Council at www.cal-ipc.org
Also research plant species at Cal Flora at www.calflora.org/species/
Project Sentinel is a non-profit organization. Their primary function is to assist individuals with housing problems such as discrimination, mortgage foreclosure & delinquency, rental issues including repairs, deposits, privacy, dispute resolution, home buyer education, post purchase education and reverse mortgages. Many of Project Sentinel programs are free; however, several of of their programs charge a nominal fee. Please visit their website at http://housing.org/