Do I need a permit to build a block wall, fence, or a retaining wall?


Free standing block walls over 36” in height require a building permit, reviewed, and approved by the Planning and Building Divisions. However, if the proposed block wall is retaining earth, permitting may be required from Building and Planning even if the wall is under 36” in height. Please reach out to the Planning or Building Division. 

Free standing fences, which are not combined with walls or fixtures, up to 6’ in height do not require a building permit. The Building Division can confirm if your proposed type of structure or attachment methods would trigger the need for a permit at Building@sanjuancapistrano.org

To confirm the determination of whether a retaining wall needs a Building Permit or a Planning Grading Plan Modification entitlement, please email a site plan to showing where the wall(s) will be located on the property and a section drawing of the wall(s) (cross-section view of the wall providing the wall’s dimensions, and the existing and proposed grade on either side of the wall). Site plan and section should be emailed to Planning@sanjuancapistrano.org.

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7. What is the difference between an entitlement and ministerial approval?
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13. What are the development standards for my property’s zoning district?
14. What are the setbacks for a property?
15. Where do you measure setbacks from?
16. What are the requirements for submitting plans?
17. How do I look up information on Major Development Projects in the City?
18. How do I look up the status of a building permit?
19. How can I verify permits for a property?
20. How much do permits cost?
21. How do I use the City Interactive Geographic Information System (GIS) map portal layers?
22. Are short term rentals allowed?
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25. Where can I submit questions for the Planning Division?
26. What new housing developments are in the City?
27. What is an ADU?
28. Can I build an ADU on my single-family residential lot?
29. Do I need to provide parking for my ADU?
30. Where are the cities major transit stops or high-quality transit corridors?
31. Do I need a permit to build a block wall, fence, or a retaining wall?
32. Do I need a permit for a business sign?
33. How do I find if my commercial unit has a sign program?
34. What is a SB 9 or an Urban Lot Split?
35. What is the City’s protected ridgeline and ridgeline buffer?
36. Are planning entitlement project applications accepted online?
37. Where can the public access environmental documents and public records?
38. What does “non-conforming” mean?
39. How do I determine if a property is located within a flood zone?
40. What is the required setback for a pool or spa?
41. How do I file an appeal?
42. What types of affordable housing are available?
43. Do I need a tree removal permit to remove a tree on my property?
44. What protected trees are identified as heritage trees?
45. Does my property have a historic designation?
46. What are AB 2011 and SB 6?
47. What is AB 2097?
48. What are the requirements for a landscape or outdoor project in my residential yard?
49. Which jurisdiction should be contacted for mobile home repairs?