Records & Parcel Research


The Planning Division's Records staff has been maintaining Planning and Building records since 1956 for projects in the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County. 

Our records include issued building permits, recently finaled permits, code violation files, and discretionary projects. Most of these records may be viewed upon request. Some of our records are achived in an off-site storage facility. Delivery of files from the off-site storage facility typically takes one week. A fee is charged for all items retrieved from this facility.

Frequently Asked Questions

For permits from 1985 to present, you can either:

For permits prior to 1985:

Planning began issuing building permits in 1956 and use permits in 1958.

  • If your structure was constructed in the 1950s or earlier, you will want to get the Confidential Assessor Records from the Assessor's office to determine the year the Assessor first identified the structure in their records. If you are not the owner, you will need the Assessor's form Authorization to Access Confidential Files signed by the owner.
  • If your structure was constructed after the 1950s, but before 1985, submit a Planning Records Request. If you have identified any historic parcel numbers, include these in your request (see *Tip*).

*TIP* In some cases, the permits you are looking for may be under an old Assessor's Parcel Number (APN). APNs can change for several reasons including land divisions and lot line adjustments. For a complete history of the old Assessor's Parcel Numbers associated with your parcel, contact the Assessor's office.

The Planning Division maintains a partial or complete set of building permit records depending on the type of permit issued. Building Plans are archived 90 days after a permit has received the final inspection. Some building plans are not available. For example, permits issued between 1950 and 1970 typically do not have plans attached to the original issued building permit.

If copies of plans are needed, you must provide a completed Authorization for Duplication to our Records Room staff.  This applies to both paper and digital copies. There is a fee for photocopies and printing.

The first step is to confirm that the records you are seeking are available by submitting a Planning Records Request. If they are available, staff may be able to provide you with the records you need via email. If not, you can schedule an appointment to view the files in the Records Room (located in the Planning Division at 701 Ocean Street, 4th Floor, Santa Cruz).

In some cases, files must be retrieved from our off-site record storage facility. It typically takes a week to retrieve files from off-site. We charge a fee for this service. For more information about this service, contact Records staff by email: recordsroominquiries@santacruzcountyca.gov.

  • The County's GIS mapping tool can be accessed here GISWeb.
  • Guidance for using some of the basic functions of the GIS is available here.

Environmental Health's land use records are available here.

The Assessor's Public Parcel Information is available here.

To access the Confidential Assessor Records, you must either be the owner or have a completed Authorization to Access Confidential Files form.

Note: The Assessor records improvements for tax purposes regardless of whether they were constructed legally. To determine the legality of a structure, follow the steps above for researching permit history.

You can find information about past hearing agendas and minutes on our Get Involved webpage.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that, with certain exceptions, requires the release of information held by government upon request.