We do an initial setup of your Zoning Portal before the project kickoff call, to give staff from all departments a clear sense of the direction the project is headed.

To get started, we'll need the following data provided several weeks before the kickoff call. Please upload all files to your Basecamp project when they are available.


OpenCounter depends on data meeting certain standards. To ensure that staff working on spatial data understand these standards, please direct them to our article, Preparing Your Spatial Zoning Data.

Spatial Data

At minimum, we request the following four datasets:

  1. City limits

  2. Base zoning districts, including any special plan areas or districts. There should be no overlapping zones in this file. If your parcel file includes zoning data, we can use the parcel file for zoning as well. 

  3. Overlay districts.

  4. Parcels, with parcel ID.

We’ll also need spatial data for any other boundaries that can affect regulations, permits, and fees, such as Business Improvement Districts, Traffic Impact Areas, floodplains, etc.

For each of the layers, we request the following metadata:

  • Geometry (required)

  • Zone / District / Overlay Name (required)

  • Description

  • URL 

Please provide all spatial data either as links to ArcServer MapServer or FeatureServer REST endpoints (preferred), or upload zipped shapefiles to the Basecamp project.

Land Use Regulations

In order to set up your zoning, we'll need land use regulations governing where uses are permitted, conditionally permitted, etc.

Ideally, these regulations will be in tabular format. See the City of Manteca, CA for a good example of what we're looking for.

We can extract these regulations from your city's online municipal code, but we prefer an internal copy in spreadsheet or Word format.

Permit List

Send us a list of permits relevant to opening a business, and a list of permits relevant to residential projects. This should include:

  • Permit Name

  • Permit Conditions: If not self-explanatory, tell us when this permit applies.  For example, impact fees can apply to either new construction projects exclusively, or to new construction, additions, or any project that adds square footage. Some cities only charge these if a project hits a minimum square footage threshold.

  • Fees associated with this permit

  • Application method (Apply online, in-person, mail in a PDF)

Feel free to use the Permit Scoping Template in Basecamp for guidance.

Optional attributes:

  • Permit Description: Additional context about what this permit is for, or why it's necessary.

  • Processing Time: Expected or estimated time between when the application is submitted and when it is issued or rejected.

  • "Before you apply" instructions: is there a checklist the applicant needs to follow before they apply for a permit, or is there an important prerequisite you want to reinforce?

  • Next Steps: What should the applicant do after they apply? When can they expect to hear from you?

Fee Invoices

Please send several fee invoices that detail the fees applied to a project, along with project characteristics (e.g. type of construction, square footage, etc.). See the Fee Invoice Example in Basecamp, annotated with details to explain the specifics of what we're looking for, as well as the file Permit Fee Examples.

Fee invoices provide scenarios we can test the portals against to validate a correct setup.

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