Legal Question in Construction Law in California

Are public agencies (i.e. the building department itself) required to obtain building permits for work done to their own building?

Asked on 11/19/14, 8:45 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

No, because the building department is part of the public works department in most jurisdictions. In most jurisdictions none of the public works by any agency require permits if the agency doing the construction is part of the same government entity that the building department is part of. So for example the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority doesn't need S.F. Building Dept. permits for transit related construction. Also, superior entities generally do not have to obtain permits from inferior agencies. So CalTrans does not have to obtain permits from local building departments for roads and bridges, although you would have to get one to build a bridge over a creek for a driveway, for example. Whether equal entities have to obtain permits for construction when they build outside their jurisdiction is sometimes disputed. For example, SFO, which is owned and operated by the City and County of San Francisco insists that it does not have to obtain building permits from the cities of Milbrae or South San Francisco even for work on perimeter buildings that are within those cities' borders, but the cities sometimes try to push that issue.

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Answered on 11/19/14, 9:15 am

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