Do I need a permit from the Planning Department?

Commercial, Industrial, Public, Institutional, and Multi-Family Uses 

This guide is intended to answer most basic questions about building and planning permit requirements for uses other than single-family dwellings in the City of Lake Oswego. If you have more questions relating to your particular project, please contact the Planning and Building Services Department at 503-635-0290 or

Erect a Sign? Probably. Most signs need a Sign Permit through the Planning Department, although certain small incidental signs do not. Please see the Sign Overview handout for a brief description of signage and sign permits. Please note that A-frame or “sandwich board” signs are not allowed as permanent, temporary, or incidental signage in non-residential zones.

Paint my Building? Possibly, depending on when the building was constructed and what type of Planning review it received at that time. In general, the following review is required:

  1. If a building went through a land use approval process (typically called Development Review or DR for short), and color was analyzed as a part of that review, new paint will require a DR Modification (DR Mod) permit through Planning. However, if the new paint is similar in color and tone to the old paint, a DR Mod may not be necessary.
  2. If a building went through DR and there was no discussion of color anywhere in the record, a permit from Planning is not required.
  3. If a building did not go through DR, a permit from Planning is not required.

Please contact the Planning and Building Services Department for more information on a particular site.

Re-Stripe my Parking Lot? No permit is needed to restripe a parking lot; however, there are specific stall and aisle width requirements based on the angle of the parking stall that apply, and restriping can’t result in parking that is more than 125% of the minimum required off-street parking nor less than the minimum spaces required for the use(s) on the site. Please note that existing landscaping on the site cannot be removed in order to provide more on-site parking spaces without a DR permit through Planning. Please see LOC 50.06.002 in the Municipal Code for more information on parking requirements.

Change the Use in a Building? Possibly. Different businesses generate different parking and loading demands; the Development Code lists the required parking and loading requirements for most commercial and industrial uses [LOC 50.06.002]. If you can show that you can provide all of your required parking on the site, no Planning permit will be required. However, a Change of Use permit is necessary if the increased parking need can only be met through a shared parking agreement or a parking study. A Change of Use permit will also be required when there is an increase in loading requirements, a change in access requirements, or the construction of private streets or driveways. For some multi-tenant centers, the City keeps a list of the existing tenants and lease spaces, and can help you determine whether there is sufficient off-street parking at the site. In the downtown area, due to the availability of on-street parking and transit, there are exceptions that apply in certain areas [LOC]. Please see the Change of Use handout for more information.

Make Tenant Improvements? Yes, tenant improvements (TIs) require permits from the Building Division. In addition, if exterior changes to the building are proposed, a DR permit through Planning may be required. For buildings that previously went through the DR process, any exterior change will require a DR Modification through Planning. For buildings that did not go through DR, a Planning permit is required if (1) more than 25% of any façade is altered, (2) the property abuts a residentially-zoned property, or (3) the modification is visible from residentially-zoned property. Please contact the Planning and Building Services Department for more information on a particular site.

Remove a Tree? Yes. All trees six inches in diameter or greater (measured at 4.5 feet above the ground) require a permit for removal. For each tree removed under a Type II tree removal permit, a mitigation tree will be required to be planted on the property. Please see the Tree Removal Guide for more information on the tree removal process.

Remove or Change Landscaping, or Remove a Tree Less than 6 Inches in Diameter? Possibly. Non-residential properties must provide a minimum 15-20% of the site as landscaping. Additionally, if a property went through the DR process, the placement (street trees, for example) and composition of the landscaping was likely approved in that review process. Please contact the Planning and Building Services Department for more information on a particular site.

Erect a Storage Shed or Other Accessory Structure? Possibly. Even if an accessory Structure does not require Building permits based on its size, structures must still meet zoning requirements, such as setbacks, height and lot coverage. Please contact the Planning and Building Services Department at or 503-635-0290 for more information. Contact the Building Dept. for building permit requirements.

Add or Replace an HVAC Unit? Yes, a Building permit is required for adding or replacing an HVAC or similar unit on the site. If the unit is located on the roof, please provide Planning with photos showing the view of the roof and unit from the street level or parking lot. If the unit is visible from the street or parking lot, appropriate screening will be required even if it is a replacement unit. Screening may also be required for units that are attached to the exterior walls. Please see the Commercial Mechanical Permit handout for more information.

Other Materials: