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Planning and Community Development Department

  • Permit Center Layout & History

    The Pasadena Permit Center opened its doors on January 3, 1994.

    Permit Center Mission Statement

    To serve as Partners for Solutions in the development of safe, healthy, and economically viable neighborhoods. 


    An enterprise which provides all development review and permit services for our customers, embodying the highest levels of customer service: facilitating when possible, regulating when needed, and providing a single point of contact. A combination of highly trained inspectors, plans reviewers, support and technical staff, state-of-the-art technology and a re-engineered review and approval process make this Permit Center a model of government efficiency and effectiveness.

    The Big Picture 

    Pasadena serves a broad range of customers in the permitting process, including homeowners and contractors with small additions and developers and builders with large multi-unit projects. We have designed our Permit Center to serve the needs of customers with any size project and a variety of service needs.

    We have geared our service center to provide as many "over-the-counter" reviews as possible and to consolidate those reviews into fewer steps. We have also implemented several assistance programs to help our customers see the "big picture" early in the process.

    Small projects, requiring the least amount of review, will be handled over-the counter in the Permit Center. Examples are fences, pools, and re-roofs.

    Medium projects will be reviewed by a Triad Review Team either over-the-counter or within a guaranteed 24-hour turn-around time period, depending on the complexity of the project. Although these reviews still require multiple staff, the staff are brought together to provide customers a single point of contact and a reduced time frame. Representatives from Building, Current Planning (Zoning) and Design & Historic Preservation sections review projects such as room additions, garages, and minor tenant improvements.

    Large projects, requiring review by several departments, will be accepted at the Permit Processing counter and distributed and tracked electronically for expedient processing. Projects requiring multiple reviews and public hearings (such as zoning issues or design review) are scheduled for Pre-Application Conference (PAC) and are assigned a Case Manager who organize a personal project packet called a Development Guide to assist customers through the process. 

    Our Lobby Layout and Services

    1 Research Stations  
    Computer terminals will provide the public with direct access to property and project information in the city's land use ma nagement and optical records systems.

    2 Tidemark Computer System
    The city's land management database, the Tidemark system, contains basic property data and tracks development-related project information such as approvals and conditions of approval.

    3 Optical Imaging System
    The optical imaging system transfers paper documents to computer files, eliminating research time and the possibility of lost files. All city departments will eventually use this system for records management.

    4 Information Center
    Public information materials available at the Information Center include brochures, maps, and code excerpts.

    5 Reception Desk
    The central receptionist asks key questions of customers and directs them to the appropriate service counter or staff person. The receptionist also provided general information on any of the Permit Center services.

    6 Triad Review
    Multiple staff perform combined reviews of medium-sized projects with over-the-counter or 24-hour service.

    7-8 Consultation
    Specialized staff may be called to answer specific technical questions or questions unrelated to plan review.

    9 Fire Plan Review
    Fire plan review is available daily from 10:00am. to 3:00pm. Review with a fire plans examiner is available for fire sprinklers, fire alarms, tents, and small tenant improvements.

    10 Permit Processing
    Permit technicians take in plans for routing, accept permit applications, issue permits, and schedule inspections.

    11 Cashier
    The central cashier collects fees and issues receipts for all development review functions.

    12 Park Reservations
    If you would like to reserve a picnic area, field or facility to host private parties or sports events look into Reservation/Permit Desk.

    13 Hearing Room
    The Permit Center offers a 40-seat hearing room for most public meetings and hearings.

    14 Permit Center Manager
    The Permit Center Manager oversees the re-engineering and implementation of the city's construction and development processing program. 


    A History of our Building's Namesake:  George E. Hale

    Appropriately, the namesake for the Permit Center Building is George Ellery Hale. Hale was a renaissance man, personifying the merging of disciplines into an integrated whole. Although best known as a scientist and astronomer who established the Mt. Wilson observatory and inspired the founding of Caltech, Hale was also a pioneer in city planning and was a major contributor to the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery in its formative years.

    As a member of Pasadena's first Planning Commission, Hale guided the master plan for the city's Civic Center. He promoted a grand plan, suggesting that an attractive city would be a prosperous one. The impressive City Hall was completed in 1927 and two years later the elegant building which now houses the Permit Center was built for the Southern California Gas Company. Acquired by the city and renamed in 1986, it now bears the name of George Ellery Hale, the visionary civic leader who championed the Civic Center.

    Technology. City planning. The integration of disciplines. These attributes of George Ellery Hale are pillars of Pasadena's Permit Center.

    In 1994 the city restored the historic 1929 lobby of the George Ellery Hale building to form the environment for the Permit Center service counter. The two-story space features the original decorative ceiling, unusual historic painted plaster walls (hidden for years by wood paneling) and the original tile flooring. The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Civic Center district.


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