County of Marin - News Releases - Building Permit Waivers

For Immediate Release
May 26, 2023

Marin Gets a Break on Age-Friendly Permitting

Fees waived for improvements to existing structures that increase accessibility

San Rafael, CA – The median age of a Marin County resident is higher than the medians in most other California counties. With a median age of 47.1 as of 2021, Marin is by far the most mature county in the San Francisco Bay Area (most are in the high 30s), and the population continues to trend older.

The Community Development Agency (CDA) is well aware, partly thanks to Age Forward, the County’s age-friendly initiative. CDA’s Building and Safety Division is reminding everyone that there is a building permit fee waiver for any permit with a sole scope of improving accessibility to an existing structure. Typical permit requests that fit the bill would be adding an entry ramp to a dwelling, modifying a kitchen counter to accommodate wheelchair access, or installing a roll-in shower in a bathroom. The provision, embedded in the Marin County Code with section 19.04.032 (13), can save an applicant hundreds of dollars.

However, the waiver is not just for homes. It’s for commercial businesses as well. Providing a wheelchair accessible entrance or an accessible restroom are common accommodations that benefit the business and patrons.

Older people comprise roughly 30% of the Marin population, and projections show that percentage rising in the coming decades. By 2030, one-third of Marin is likely to be age 60 or older. According to the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Aging and Adult Services Division, many older residents are unaware of the many programs available to them and urge targeted communications to promote age-friendly services and opportunities.

“The building permit fee waiver is meant to eliminate a barrier to improving physical access to Marin’s built environment,” said CDA Deputy Director Bill Kelley. “We strive to recognize and accommodate the evolving needs of our residents who prefer to stay in their homes and neighborhoods as they age. The fee waiver serves as a modest incentive to make buildings of all types more welcoming and accessible.”  

Age Forward is a framework for making progressive enhancements to the ways Marin creates and manages policies and how it collaborates with other agencies, businesses, and residents to help make Marin more livable for residents across their lifespans. Nine of Marin’s 11 incorporated towns and cities have an age-friendly committee.

Learn more about building permits and fees on the CDA website.


William Kelley
Deputy Director of Building Inspection and Safety
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6556
Email: William Kelley
CDA webpage