The Planning and Permitting Division of the City’s Development Services Department is primarily responsible for developing and maintaining the City’s General Plan (a comprehensive plan for growth and development) as required by State law; developing specific plans, neighborhood plans, master plans, and special studies as needed; and participating in regional transportation and land use plans. In addition, the Division is responsible for maintaining the zoning ordinance and map; processing development applications as part of the “one-stop permit” center; providing customer assistance; conducting development review; reviewing improvement plans, building permits, and business licenses for compliance with City regulations; enforcing the zoning and subdivision codes; and completing special projects as needed. The Division also carries out environmental reviews as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and provides environmental data and information on current State requirements to City departments and the public.

The Planning and Permitting Division assists the community as it grows in meeting its long-range land use, circulation, and public facilities needs, and maintaining its quality of life. In doing this, the division provides a professional level of development services support to the general public, applicants, City departments, Bicycle Advisory Commission, Design Review/Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Commission, and the City Council. The Planning Division has 7 full-time employees and all functions related to the Planning Division are overseen by Kim Espinosa, Planning Manager.

The Merced Vision 2030 General Plan is the official document used by the City’s decision-makers and citizens to guide the long-range development of land and the conservation of resources in Merced. It is the key document with which all other City ordinances and policies must be consistent. It is considered to be the City's "blueprint" for the future, and provides the bridge between the community's values and development decisions to be made by the City. For more information about the General Plan, please refer to the links to the left of this page.

The Planning Division is also responsible for processing new development applications. The processing of new development applications includes the review of preliminary plans, holding hearings for the public review and comment on the proposals, and overseeing the implementation of the development to ensure that it is constructed in accordance with all City requirements.

Public participation is encouraged in the review of all new development projects within the City. The City strives to maximize participation by holding neighborhood meetings, forming ad hoc citizen committees, and noticing property owners within 300 ft. of proposed major developments. If you would like more information about new development presently undergoing review or how to make improvements to your property (house additions, new fences, pools, etc.), please contact the Planning Division.

To contact the Planning Division, please call (209) 385-6858 or visit our offices on the 2nd floor of the Merced Civic Center at 678 West 18th Street. Our office hours are 8:00 am to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm (we are closed during the lunch hour). You may also contact Planning at