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Residential Permits - A Step By Step Guide
The plans included are samples only. Please do not reproduce any part of this document to your plans.
This document has been broken down into chapters for faster downloading.

Am I allowed to ride my bicycle against the flow of vehicular traffic?

No.  Bicyclists are required to obey the same traffic laws as vehicles, including riding in the same direction as the flow of vehicular traffic, stopping at stop signs and red lights and all other traffic laws.  Riding with the flow of traffic is for the safety of the bicyclists because it increases the motorist's ability to see bicyclists.  Motorists are not expecting traffic (autos or bicycles) coming from the opposite direction of traffic and therefore, may not see a cyclist riding in the wrong direction.  Most collisions involving bicycles are caused by bicyclists riding the wrong way on a street.

Am I allowed to ride my bicycle on the sidewalk?

It is against the law to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk except in residential areas and where a sidewalk is specifically designated as a bike route.  When riding a bicycle on a sidewalk where permitted, the bicyclist must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian, and must give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

Can a friend or family member who is not a First Time Homebuyer (FTHB) purchase the home with me even if I am a FTHB?

No. All parties must be FTHB. (See Program Guidelines for a definition of a FTHB.)

Can I fax or email my home ownership application to the City?

No, the City needs the original application with a wet signature.

Can I have a stop sign installed, speed bump installed, "Slow Children at Play" sign installed, or have the speed limit lowered in my neighborhood to slow down traffic?

Refer to "Speed Control on Our Streets"

Can I still submit an application if I don’t meet all of the program guidelines (i.e. FICO score, down payment, etc.) at the time the application is due?

Yes, you may still submit an application, but if you are selected you must meet all of the program guidelines at the time you are contacted.

Do I get to keep the equity in a Below Market-Rate (Inclusionary) home?


Do I need a permit for a yard or garage sale?

No you do not need a permit. There are limitations to the number of days, hours and the location of signage.

Do I need a permit for flat concrete work in my backyard?

No you do not need a permit for flat concrete work in your backyard.

Do I need a permit to replace my windows or my front door?

Yes, both replacement of windows whether retrofit or new construction style require a permit. Replacement of glass only does not require a permit. A permit is required for the replacement of a pre-hung front door. A permit is not required if the frame of the door way will remain and a new door will be set on existing hinges. Window Replacement handout.

Does the City use recycled or reclaimed water for irrigation?

The landscape areas that are part of the districts currently do not use recycled or reclaimed water for irrigation. While the City would like to use reclaimed water from it’s Wastewater Reclamation Plant, at this time, there are no reclaimed water lines in the district areas.

How are assessments established?

Every district has a maximum allowable assessment which is established at the time of district formation. The maximum assessment is based on maintenance cost projections to cover the cost of maintaining the landscaping and related landscape amenities within each district.  Annual adjustments to each district’s assessment are made (up or down) in an effort to balance district maintenance costs with district revenue.  The level of assessment cannot exceed the district approved maximum allowable assessment.

How can I get my sidewalk repaired?

The City of Livermore currently has a Sidewalk Repair Program which provides an opportunity for the City to pay 25% of the total cost of the repair to your sidewalk. Under this program, the City has established a $2,123 ceiling on the amount any one property owner must pay for any sidewalk-related repairs to the frontage of an owner-occupied residential parcel. The City annually retains a qualified contractor through a competitive bidding process to do all the sidewalk repair work within the City. Before any work begins, an estimate is sent to all property owners owning parcels which are on the list to be repaired. All work is coordinated and inspected by the City. Upon completion, a bill for 75% (up to a maximum of $2,004 for eligible parcels) of the repairs is sent to each property owner.

How do I get a copy of traffic counts or a speed survey?

For a copy of traffic counts or a speed survey, call Transportation Engineering at 960-4500.

How do I get a crosswalk in my neighborhood?

Crosswalks are not safety devices.  They are used to guide pedestrians into a preferred path and should not be used indiscriminately.  Crosswalks are marked at intersections where there is substantial conflict between vehicles and pedestrians, where significant pedestrian concentrations occur, where pedestrians could not otherwise recognize the proper place to cross, and where traffic movements are controlled.  When a crosswalk is requested, a traffic study will be conducted to determine if a crosswalk is appropriate.  If you have any questions, please call Transportation Engineering at 960-4500.

How do I go about getting a crossing guard in my neighborhood?

Crossing guards are primarily used to assist elementary and middle school students across the street on an identified route to school.  The City of Livermore uses City-adopted guidelines to evaluate the needs for adult school crossing guards.  State guidelines are based on the results of extensive research.  All requests for new adult crossing guards should be directed to Transportation Engineering at 960-4500.  Staff will thoroughly study the location.  If it is determined that a crossing guard is warranted, a request will be forwarded to the Police Department to budget funds and hire a new crossing guard.

How do you define household?

A household includes all persons who reside in a housing unit. Persons included in the household must have lived together in one location for a minimum of six months prior to the initial date of the application.

How long do I have to live in the Below Market-Rate Inclusionary home before I can sell it?

There is no minimum or maximum time limit for home ownership before sale.

How much are closing costs?

Usually between 3% and 5% of the purchase price of the home.

How much do I pay for the LMD?

Since each district’s costs are based on the area and number of lots within the district, you will need to review the Engineer's Report for your district to determine your assessment.

I have to wait a long time at a traffic signal, even when there is no one in the opposite direction. Can the City fix this?

This condition could be an indication of a signal malfunction.  However, if it occurs on a major street during commute hours it could be the result of coordinating the traffic signals to favor major street traffic.  Please call Transportation Engineering at 960-4500 to report the problem.

I ride a motorcycle/bicycle and I have problems getting the traffic signals to change for me. Can the City help me?

Motorcycles/bicycles should wait in the center of the traffic lane or bike lane if provided at a traffic signal about 3 feet behind the limit line in order to be detected.  If the traffic signal still does not change, report the problem to the Maintenance Department.

I would like to install/replace a fence at my home. What do I need to do?

Although permits are not required for fences up to 7 feet tall, there are required setbacks and height limitations for fences.  Typically a fence of not more than 6 feet in height is allowed to the sides and rear of a residence. Fences in the front of a home are limited to 3 feet in height. There are special considerations for corner lots, lots that back up to major streets like Portola Avenue, as well as homes in the South Livermore Valley Specific Plan (please see page 9-26). General fencing guidelines can be found here

I would like to put up a shed, patio cover, or arbor. Do I need a permit?

Sheds, patio covers or arbors over 120 square feet or attached to a building, require a permit. If the structure is under 120 square feet and detached from a building a permit is not required. Any electrical or plumbing work associated with the structure will require a permit.

Regardless of the need for a permit, the structure will need to meet the required set backs to the property line and from the house.
Accessory Structure Guidelines

Information about Proposition 218

Passed by voters in November 1996, Proposition 218 requires voter approval for assessment increases that exceed the district's approved maximum assessment.  In the event that maintenance costs exceed the maximum allowable assessment revenue, special balloting procedures may be implemented to give district participants the opportunity to raise the maximum allowable assessment to cover the district's maintenance needs.

Additionally, in March 2004, the City Council approved a new enduring cap policy. The new enduring cap will be applied through a special assessment ballot proceeding in voter-approved districts.

My neighbors always park in front of my house. Can the City paint red curb in front of my house to eliminate parking?

No.  On-street parking is considered public parking, and is available for parking of any legal vehicle.

My streetlight is not functioning. Can the City fix it?

The City maintains public streetlights.  Contact the Maintenance Department at 960-8020 or fill out the maintenance request form.

What are the direct costs that are used in calculating the cap?

  • Personnel Costs – Wages and benefits for the people who perform the work or contractors cost.
  • Materials – Or supplies, including soil, rocks, plants, fertilizer, pre-emergents, pesticides.
  • Water – For irrigation.
  • Utilities – Including electricity and phone for running automatic or centralized irrigation systems.
  • Equipment – For on-going maintenance and future purchases of items such as mowers, trimmers, etc.

What is a FICO score?

A FICO score is another name for a credit score.

What is a Landscape Maintenance District or LMD and why do we have them?

A Landscape Maintenance District (LMD) is created to pay for the costs of on-going maintenance of public landscaping that provides special benefits to parcels in given areas of the City. The district provides services solely for the benefit of those parcels located within each district. These 90 districts benefit about 25% of the City. Formation of LMD is governed by the Landscape and Lighting Act of 1972, Part 2 of Division 15 of the California Streets and Highways Code.

There are many benefits associated with the landscaping (parkway, perimeter, entryway, and local median) within the LMD:

  • Improved visual aesthetic appeal of nearby parcels.
  • Improved dust control.
  • Enhanced adaptation of the urban environment within the natural environment.
  • Improved erosion resistance.
  • Improved drainage and flood control.
  • The special enhancement to the value of property, which results from the above benefits.
These improvements may include parkway or perimeter landscaping adjacent to the developments as well as specific in-tract landscaping improvements such as entryway or median landscaping, and monuments associated with the development. To this extent, local landscaping improvements are associated with the individual developments and provide special benefits to the properties within those developments and provide only nominal general benefit.

What is an “enduring cap”?

An "enduring cap" is a maximum assessment that will remain effective from year to year. The enduring cap is a calculation of all direct and administrative costs, plus a 10% contingency, spread evenly across all parcels or acres within each of the districts, with an inflation adjustment of the Consumer Price Index plus 1%. Without an enduring cap, the previous year's assessment as modified for inflation by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) serves as the assessment cap for the new year, which may be significantly less than what is required to fully maintain the district’s landscaping.

Most quality concerns have come from districts that have voted “no” on proposed assessment increases over the years and have then seen their district’s landscaping suffer because there has not been sufficient funding to pay for the labor and water needed to keep the district’s landscaping looking its best.

The new enduring cap will be applied through a special assessment ballot proceeding in voter-approved districts.

What is an Engineer’s Report?

An Engineer’s Report is a document prepared annually by the City under the requirements of the Landscape and Lighting Act of 1972, Part 2 of Division 15 of the California Streets and Highways Code.   In order to levy and collect special assessments within the districts, the City must prepare an Engineer’s Report which provides details on the improvements that are maintained and the estimated budgets for each district.

What is included in total household income?

Total household income is the total gross income of all adult members of the household, including undocumented income and temporary disability income. It does not include income earned by a dependent of a household member who is a full time student under 24 years of age.

What is the Inclusionary Housing Program?

The Inclusionary Housing Program was created through the City Council’s adoption of an ordinance that requires residential developers to provide either 10% or 15% of their units at an affordable price. There is a high demand for this housing, so the City has started a program to identify first-time homebuyers that may be eligible to participate. The program is available to first-time homebuyers whose income does not exceed 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or, in some programs, 120% of the AMI. Buyers are chosen through a City-administered selection process with preferences given to persons who live and/or work in Livermore.

What is the minimum income needed to qualify for the Below Market-Rate (Inclusionary) Housing Program?

It varies depending on the purchase price of the home, the amount of down payment, personal debt, and other associated costs/payments for the unit (i.e. Homeowners Association dues, mortgage insurance, etc.) For more details, please contact the Housing & Human Services Division.

What is the Resale Restriction Agreement?

The Resale Restriction Agreement restricts the use and sale of the home for 55 years. Click here for a copy of the Resale Restriction Agreement.

What kind of maintenance do the City crews do?

For turf areas: mow, edge, aerate, fertilize, adjust/check/repair irrigation system, weed control, litter pickup, clean hardscape (meandering paths, concrete pathways) areas, and rodent control.

For groundcover areas: prune, edge, apply post/pre-emergents & plant growth regulators, fertilize, litter pickup, adjust/check/repair irrigation system, weed control, rodent control and dead-heading (removal of dead blooms).

For shrub & tree areas: structural pruning, sucker removal, pest/disease control, sight/sign clearing (removal of branches or trimming shrubs that might impair line of sight when driving or blocks signage), fertilize, clean hardscape areas, adjust/check/repair irrigation system, apply post/pre-emergents, litter pickup, staking/bracing/removal, weed control and rodent control.

For non-vegetated areas (open space): litter pickup, apply post/pre-emergent (selected areas), fire abatement.

Additional work as needed: playground inspection/repair, decorative light inspection/repair, inspection for acceptance of new sites, vandalism and graffiti cleanup.

Where can I find my district’s Engineer’s Report?

Currently there 90 Landscape Maintenance Districts in the City of Livermore.  All 90 districts are updated every fiscal year.  A single report contains information regarding district boundaries and assessments for each of the City's 90 districts.  The report is available for review at City Hall (Engineering Division) or by clicking the link below.

Which district am I in? Is there a map that shows me which LMD my property is located within? Can you tell me more about my LMD?

Below are links to maps showing portions of the city. District areas are outlined, named and/or numbered.

Who can obtain a building permit?

The building owner or owner's representative with written authorization and a completed Owner Builder Declaration signed by the property owner, or a contractor licensed by the State of California to perform the work being permitted can obtain a building permit.  

Who do I call about the weeds all over a property?

To report unsightly weeds on a residential or commercial lot, please contact the City of Livermore Neighborhood Preservation Division either by completing the online Complaint Form or by calling 925-960-4444.

To report overgrown weeds on an open/vacant lot, which is considered a fire hazard, please contact the Livermore Pleasanton Fire Department - Fire Prevention Office at 925-454-2362.

Who do I call if I want to discuss how a traffic signal functions?

For more information on traffic signal operations, call Transportation Engineering at 960-4500.

Who do I contact about abandoned or inoperable vehicles?

Vehicles parked on the street are handled by the City of Livermore Police Department. To make a report to the Police Department please call 925-371-4824.

Vehicles park on private property are handled by City of Livermore Neighborhood Preservation.  To make a report to Neighborhood Preservation please call 925-960-4444 or complete the Service Request Form.

Who do I contact if I have a question about the Engineer’s Report?

If you have any questions, please call Kevin Duffus, Associate Civil Engineer, with the Engineering Division at (925) 960-4500.

Who do I contact if I have a question about the maintenance?

Please contact Public Works Department, Maintenance Division at (925) 960-8020 or fill out the on-line request form.

Who do I contact if I have more questions about the Landscape Maintenance Districts?

If you have any questions regarding your assessment or Engineers Report, please contact City of Livermore, Public Works Department, Maintenance Division at (925) 960-8020.

Who maintains the landscaping within the LMD?

City Maintenance crews (Public Works Department, supplemented by Contract Services) perform the majority of the maintenance.   All areas are inspected by City Staff.  Prior to 2003, the City put out to bid and contracted out all the work to private landscape contractors.

Why doesn't the City paint the curb red in front of fire hydrants?

The public is expected to know that parking is not allowed within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.  It is the City's policy not to paint red curb in front of the hydrants, unless it becomes a repetitive problem of enforcement by the Police Department.

Why doesn't the City pay 100%?

The Streets and Highways Code of the State of California places on each property owner the responsibility for the sidewalk and curb and gutter abutting his or her property. The City is able to offer residents help by paying 25% of the repair cost. By doing this, the City is able to relieve citizens of some of the burden, and is able to repair many more sidewalks each year than it would if the City tried to pay for the entire cost.

How are the repair sites selected?

Repair locations come from several sources including routine inspections by the City, volunteers (property owners who call in and wish to be included) and residents who call in to report an unsafe condition they have observed. Calls are logged in the order they are received. The locations are inspected to see if the damage meets the Sidewalk Repair Criteria (see sketch). If the sidewalk qualifies for the program by meeting one of the criteria, it is marked with orange paint, and a Notice to Repair is sent to the property owner. If after 30 days, the sidewalk has not been repaired, it is prioritized, and placed on a waiting list. As funds become available, the sites are incorporated into the annual contract. Typically, each project is bid at the end of the calendar year and construction begins the following Spring. Once a property is reported and is on the list, the repairs must be made either by the owner or by the City. Sidewalks not repaired in one year will move up on the repair list for upcoming programs.

Can I do the repairs myself?

Yes. A City Encroachment Permit is required and the finished work must be of professional quality and must conform to all applicable City standards. All work must be paid for by the property owner. Property owners may submit an invoice marked “paid” and the finaled encroachment permit to the City for a reimbursement of up to 25% of the amount that the repairs would have cost under the most recent City contract, or the actual cost, whichever is less. Reimbursements will be made when the repairs would have come under the City’s annual project. The $2,123 ceiling does not apply.

Will the City remove a tree that is damaging my sidewalk?

No. Every effort is made to preserve trees. The City will remove only dead or potentially hazardous trees under this program. Tree roots may be the cause of your sidewalk problem, in which case, they will be cut back and a root barrier installed when appropriate. Caution must be used in cutting roots. If the root trimming creates a potentially hazardous tree, the City will require the removal of the tree and will require that a new tree (15 gal. minimum) be planted with a deep tree well and root barrier to help prevent re-occurrence of sidewalk damage. The City will pay 25% of the cost of installation of root barriers and/or removal and replacement of trees if said work is necessary and if the work is performed under the City's sidewalk repair contract. Trees that are not a hazard and are responsible for disrupting sidewalks, curbs and street areas may be removed by the property owner at their own expense upon the issuance of a permit by the City and an agreement by the property owner to place another tree (15 gal. minimum) in a better location on the property. Tree permits may be obtained at no charge from the Maintenance Division, telephone (925) 960-8020.