The City of Arcata’s Planning Division helps to navigate the physical growth of Arcata with an emphasis on optimizing the land use and development of the city for the public welfare of its citizens.
Guided by the City’s General Plan and Land Use Code, the Planning Division supports long- and short-term plans for the best utilization of land throughout Arcata, and advises the Planning Commission and City Council on proposed projects that will help to revitalize and prepare Arcata for future growth. The Planning Division also works with the Historic Landmarks Committee to ensure the continuity of the look and feel of the historic properties located throughout Arcata.
- GIS Parcel Finder & Property Report
- Zoning & Land Use Code
- Planning Permit Application & Deposit
- Planning Permit Checklists
- Design Review
GIS Parcel Finder & Property Report
The City’s GIS Parcel Finder allows you to lookup general property information such as zoning and parcel size as well as other details such as whether a parcel is located in a coastal zone boundary or requires hillside development.
To confirm that a parcel is within the Arcata city limits and to lookup details for a property:
- Go to the City’s GIS Parcel Finder and search for the property by Address or Assessor Parcel Number (APN).
- Click on the map to ensure the parcel is outlined in blue.
- In the "City of Arcata Parcel" box, click on the City of Arcata Property Report link.
- The Property Report will appear with a map of the property, Humboldt County Assessor Details, and City of Arcata Property Details.
Zoning & Land Use Code
The purpose of zoning is to implement the policies of the General Plan. The zoning of a property will confirm what types of activities are allowed on a parcel. Article 2 of the Arcata Land Use Code identifies the allowable land uses for Arcata’s various zoning districts.
The Zoning Map identifies the locations of the City’s various zoning districts. This map is helpful in determining where activities are allowed throughout the City.
The Zoning Compliance Tables identify the development standards and zone requirements for each of the City’s zoning districts according to the Arcata Land Use Code. These tables are helpful to ensure proposed projects meet the specific standards and requirements for the zoning district.
The Arcata Land Use Code includes details about regulations such as the purpose and applicability of each chapter.
Planning Permit Application & Deposit
Depending on the proposed project, one or more planning permits may be required in addition to other permits required by other City departments such as a building permit or an encroachment permit from the Building & Engineering Department.
- A tree removal permit from the Planning Department may also require an encroachment permit from the Engineering Department if the tree removal service will have equipment staged in the public right-of-way.
Planning Permit Applications may be submitted by email or mail; however, Planning Permit Deposits (see below) will need to be made before the application is processed.
- Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail to: City of Arcata, 736 F Street, Arcata, CA 95521
Planning Permit Deposit
Planning Permit processes and fees vary depending on the approval authority for the proposed project. A non-refundable deposit is required when submitting a Planning Permit Application. When the deposit is exhausted, customers are billed for any staff time or costs that exceed the amount of the deposit.
If you are not sure which deposit needs to be paid, please contact a Planner by emailing email@example.com.
We accept cash, check, and credit card payments:
- Cash: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call #707-822-5955 to make arrangements for delivery of cash.
- Check: Use the City of Arcata payment boxes in front of City Hall (next to the mailbox) or in the rear City Hall parking lot (near the light pole facing the Library).
- Credit Card: Email email@example.com or call #707-822-5955 to make arrangements to provide credit card information over the phone. (Please note there is a 3% surcharge for credit card charges of $500 or more.)
Larger or fairly complex development projects will usually benefit from a Pre-Application Meeting. This meeting brings together City staff from different departments, and sometimes outside agencies, to answer questions and provide comments on the proposed project. The purpose of the meeting is to understand what City staff will require for the proposed project, which will assist in helping make informed decisions.
There is no cost for Pre-Application Meetings. We request that documents and specific questions are provided at least a week in advance of the meeting. Electronic copies of all documents can be emailed, though hard copies of plans for larger projects may be requested to help facilitate review of the proposed project.
- Ministerial Tree Removal Information & Checklist
- Vision Clearance Waiver Information & Checklist
- Zoning Clearance Information & Checklist
Zoning Administrator / Director Action (with No Public Hearing)
- Certificate of Compliance Information & Checklist
- Home Occupation Permit Information & Checklist
- Interpretation / Determination Request Information & Checklist
- Lot Line Adjustment Information & Checklist
- Parcel Merger Information & Checklist
- Discretionary Tree Removal Information & Checklist
Zoning Administrator / Director Action (with Public Hearing)
- Coastal Development Information & Checklist
- Hillside Development Information & Checklist
- Parcel Map - Parcel Division into 4 or Fewer Parcels
- Minor Use Permit or Amendment
- Planned Development Permit or Amendment
- The City Vegetation Management Protocol provides information about nesting birds for tree removals.
The City’s Land Use Code requires Design Review for certain construction projects to enhance the natural beauty and the historic and rural character of the City. Design Review is often part of a larger application process. If a non-Administrative Design Review permit is needed, the same deposit applies, whether the public hearing is with the Zoning Administrator or the Planning Commission.
The various types of Non-Administrative Design Review permits include:
- Small Design Review: 4 or fewer units, no more than two stories, no historic designation
- Large Design Review: 5 or more units, 3 or more stories, historic designation
- Sign Design Review: Signs more than 20 SF, signs in residential zoning (unless smaller than 2 SF), in Neighborhood Conservation Areas, on historic structures or sites, part of a development project, and at the Director’s option
- Master Sign Design Review: Signs for a non-residential project with 2 or more tenants, one main building 10,000 SF or more, on parcels one or more acres in size, on theaters or auditoriums (places of public assembly), on parcels with frontage on more than one street or alley, and non-conforming signs involuntarily damaged by more than 50% of its replacement cost
- Small Design Review Information & Checklist
- Small Sign Information & Checklist
- Master Sign Plan Information & Checklist
Arcata has a tiered Design Review process in which approval is determined by the location and type of project. Administrative Design Review is when a building project falls within certain standards, and can be reviewed together with a submitted Building Permit Application. This process saves time and project costs.
Building projects that are not eligible for Administrative Design Review require design review approval by the Zoning Administrator or Planning Commission prior to building plans being submitted. Typically, these Non-Administrative Design Review approvals require a public hearing.
There are four steps to determine whether your project qualifies for administrative review. Use the Design Review Guide to determine if your project qualifies.
The Zoning Compliance Summary includes key information, designed to assist in quickly determining whether a proposed design for a building project can be approved administratively.
We recommend that you speak with a Planner if you have any questions about whether a building project design can be reviewed administratively, or whether it needs to go through the design review process with the Zoning Administrator or Planning Commission.
- Commercial Central (CC) Zoning Compliance Summary
- Commercial General (CG) Zoning Compliance Summary
- Commercial Mixed (CM) Zoning Compliance Summary
- Commercial Visitor Serving (CVS) Zoning Compliance Summary
- Residential Very Low Density (RVL) Zoning Compliance Summary
- Residential Low Density (RL) Zoning Compliance Summary
- Residential Medium Density (RM) Zoning Compliance Summary
- Residential High Density (RH) Zoning Compliance Summary
General Plan - Design Element Checklists
- Residential Properties
- Commercial and Industrial Properties
Contact a City Planner
Our Planners are available for same-day service: Monday-Thursday 11:00am-1:00pm
To maintain physical distancing, we encourage you to contact our Planners by email following the schedule noted below:
|Mon & Wed 11:00am - 1:00pm||Tue & Thu 11:00am- 1:00pm|
|Email Delo Freitas||Email Joe Mateer|
You can also be routed to a Planner by calling #707-822-5955.