How to apply for a major permit

The BCDC major permit is meant for larger projects and projects that could significantly impact San Francisco Bay and its shoreline.

Timeline: Typically 9 months to 2 years, but varies greatly depending on your overall project timeline. The BCDC permit is issued within 90 days of the time we receive a full and complete application.

Cost: $700 to $1.2 million, calculated based on the total project cost

  1. Confirm your project will be processed as a major permit application
    Contact BCDC staff to confirm whether your project requires a major permit or if it could be processed as another form of permit, such as an administrative permit.
  2. Schedule a pre-application meeting
    Early in your project planning, schedule a pre-application meeting. You should plan an initial meeting with us around the same time you first meet with the planner at your local planning department.
  3. Attend advisory board meetings (if applicable)
    Most major projects have a public access component. The design of the public access proposal is reviewed at least once by BCDC's Design Review Board. More complex designs sometimes appear before the board at multiple meetings as the design develops.

    Projects with a major fill component or other novel engineering issues often require review by BCDC's Engineering Criteria Review Board.
  4. Obtain local discretionary approvals and other needed permits
    You must obtain any required discretionary approvals from your local government before BCDC can act on your permit application. Examples of local discretionary approvals may include:

    • lot line adjustments
    • subdivision approvals
    • rezonings
    • conditional use permits
    • planned unit development approvals
    • engineering review
    • other actions taken by planning commissions, port authorities, special committees, boards of supervisors or city councils, and regional bodies
    Permits or authorizations from other agencies are also required for most major projects before BCDC can act on an application.
  5. Prepare your application
    Make sure your application is complete before it is submitted. Your application can be processed far more quickly and efficiently if it is complete and includes all required attachments.

    Detailed instructions are available to help you fill out the BCDC permit application form.
  6. Submit your application and pay application fee
    Send the application to with the subject line “Permit Application: PROJECT NAME.”

    The application fee must be paid by check payable to “San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.” Send the check to our offices via USPS, UPS, or FedEx.
  7. Post public notice at the site
    After we receive your application, we will send you a PDF “public notice” to print and post at the project site to advertise the pending application.

    This notice must be posted at a prominent location at the site of the project (or multiple locations at larger sites) and in a location where it is visible to the public.

    Make sure the notice remains in place and in good condition until the Commission has acted on the permit application.
  8. Work with your BCDC contact
    A staff member will be assigned to review your application. They will inform you within 30 days if any necessary information is missing.

    If your BCDC contact informs you that the application is missing any required information or exhibits, you must submit these materials before we can begin our review process.

    Each time you resubmit missing or incomplete application materials, the staff person requires up to 30 days to review them, so it is in your best interest to ensure your materials are thorough and accurate.
  9. Prepare for the Commission meeting
    Once your BCDC contact determines the application is complete, a meeting with the Commission will be scheduled within 90 days. At this meeting, you or your representative will briefly present your project to the Commission.

    Learn more about presenting your project to the Commission.

    Prior to the meeting, your BCDC staff contact will share with you a document that recommends how the Commission should vote on the project. That recommendation may be to approve, modify, or deny the project. The staff contact will ask for your feedback on the recommendation, and whether you agree with its findings or have any concerns.
  10. Attend Commission meeting
    Your attendance is required at the Commission meeting. The Commission may have questions for you and your project team about the project.

    After the Commission hears a presentation on the project, they will vote to approve, modify, or deny your application. Their vote may occur at the same meeting, or at a subsequent meeting.
  11. If your application is approved, submit required plans and comply with other requirements of your permit
    Projects are typically required to submit construction plans to BCDC and comply with other requirements prior to the time that you start work on the project.

    Work with the BCDC compliance team to ensure that you meet all the requirements of your permit.

For detailed and official instructions about this process, see Chapter 3 through Chapter 5 of BCDC’s administrative regulations.