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Land Development Code

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Regulations, Amendments and Related Documents

New Regulations in Effect - Updates to the Land Development Code

  • Mobile Food Truck Ordinance- The City's mobile food truck ordinance is applicable citywide (effective October 15, 2014). On March 18, 2014, the City Council adopted an ordinance to allow mobile food trucks to legally operate in the public right-of-way and on private property. On September 15, 2014, the City Council approved a Resolution to overrule the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority's decision of ordinance inconsistency, which thereby upheld the City's adopted mobile food truck ordinance. On October 8, 2014, the Coastal Commission certified the associated local coastal program amendment, which allowed the ordinance to become effective citywide. The ordinance allows food trucks to operate (with no City permit required) in the public right-of-way; in industrial and commercial-office zones; in most RM zones to serve residents/guests of residential developments with 16 or more dwelling units; on the premises of schools, universities, hospitals, or churches in any zone; for private catering in any zone; and to serve active construction sites in any zone. Operations on private property in most commercial zones and in the downtown community plan area are subject to a ministerial permit. See Information Bulletin 148 and the Mobile Food Truck Permit Application Form (DS-210) for additional information.
  • Amendments Related to Environmental Appeals- The draft ordinance includes amendments to the Land Development Code to clarify the City's process for issuance of a Notice of Right to Appeal an environmental determination, including clarification of details regarding the location where the notice must be posted, who the notice must be distributed to, and the timing and duration required for availability of the notice; and clarification of the required time for filing an appeal.
  • 8th Update to the Land Development Code- On June 12, 2014, the Coastal Commission certified the 8 th Update, a comprehensive update and regular maintenance of the code (adopted by the City Council June 4, 2013). There are a total of 54 amendment issues included in the 8th Update (after removal of Issue #15), that relate to various land use approval types and modify various use and development regulations. The most significant amendments will help streamline the permit approval process for sidewalk cafes (PDF) and educational facilities, and address various parking issues related to tandem parking, parking for commercial uses on small lots, shared parking, and green building parking requirements (for low emitting vehicles, carpools, and bicycles). The amendments are summarized in the Report to Planning Commission Issue matrix (PDF). The 8th Update became effective in areas outside of the coastal zone on July 19, 2013, and became effective citywide on June 12, 2014. See final ordinances for the adopted code language:
  • Microbreweries- On June 4, 2013, the City Council adopted code amendments related to microbreweries. The ordinance will allow for local craft beer manufacturers to develop a restaurant or tasting room accessory to their beverage production manufacturing use to help better feature their product. The size of an eating and drinking establishment, which was previously limited to 3,000 square feet in most industrial zones, will instead be limited to 25 percent of the total gross floor area consistent with how accessory uses are typically regulated. The ordinance applies to beverage manufacturers of at least 12,000 square feet in size located in industrial zones. Brew pubs, which are restaurants that manufacture small quantities of beer, will continue to be regulated as eating and drinking establishments as applicable to the restaurants location. The ordinance became effective citywide on December 12, 2013.
  • Decision Process for Capital Improvement Projects (PDF)- The purpose of this amendment is to reduce the processing times and costs associated with making decisions on capital improvement projects. This amendment to the Municipal Code and Local Coastal Program creates two new approval processes for capital improvement projects. A decision on a capital improvement project that requires a Coastal Development Permit; or a Site Development Permit for environmentally sensitive lands or historical resources, would be made via a Process CIP-2 or CIP-5. Process CIP-2 is a similar to Process Two except it is appealable to the City Council rather than the Planning Commission. Process CIP-5 is similar to Process Five except it does not require a Planning Commission recommendation prior to the City Council hearing.The proposed amendment affects only the decision process, the discretionary permits are still required and no changes are made to the regulations for coastal Development, environmentally sensitive lands, or historical resources.
  • Reduced Parking Demand Housing Regulations (PDF)- (AKA Affordable housing Parking Regulations)- On November 13, 2012 the City Council approved the Reduced Parking Demand Housing Regulations (Section 142.0527) (PDF). The regulations consist of amendments to the Municipal Code and the City's Local Coastal Program that implement the recommendations of the San Diego Affordable Housing Parking Study (December 30, 2011) prepared by Wilbur Smith Associates. The regulations are applicable to only regulated rental affordable housing units where the tenant pays no more than 30 percent of gross household income towards gross rent and where a specified number of units are affordable to very low income and/or low income households for a term of at least 30 years. Generally, the regulations apply parking ratios that are unique to the affordable housing type and the locational characteristics of the project. The amendments are effective Citywide inclusive of the Planned District Ordinances. The project also includes adoption of a Land Development Manual for Calculating Affordable Housing Parking Requirements. The amendments became effective in on November 14, 2013.
  • Outdoor Lighting Regulations (PDF)- On July 24, 2012 the City Council adopted an ordinance with amendments to Land Development Code Section 142.0740 (PDF) and Chapter 14, Article 10 (PDF) relating to local adoption of the California Green Building Regulations to reduce light pollution. The City's outdoor lighting regulations are intended to minimize light pollution, promote lighting design that conserves electrical energy, and provide adequate lighting for public safety. The amendments allow for use of some broad spectrum lighting alternatives with better color rendition for safety and better energy saving technology for consumers. The ordinance includes new limits on color temperature and the amount of up-light allowed by new outdoor light fixtures. The action also included adoption of a new local lighting zone map to facilitate implementation of state and local requirements. The ordinance is effective and applies to areas located outside of the coastal zone as of September 6, 2012. The ordinance will be effective in the coastal zone on the date the Coastal Commission unconditionally certifies the ordinance.
  • 7th Update to the Land Development Code- On August 2, 2011, the City Council adopted the 7th Update which is a package of amendments that are being processed as part of a comprehensive update and regular maintenance of the code. The amendments are summarized in the Issue Matrix (PDF). The code amendments include changes to address various steps in the permit process (i.e. applications, noticing, initiation, historic resource surveys, appeal of environmental determinations, findings for approval, grounds for appeal, bonds, permit expiration); items to help clarify and simplify the review process for various permit types (i.e. planned development permits, pet care, signs, instructional studios, environmentally sensitive lands, companion units, parking structures, and previously conforming parking) and general clean up modifications to help clarify applicable development regulations and process requirements in the LDC and Planned District Ordinances. The ordinance became effective in areas outside of the coastal zone on October 6, 2011. On October 10, 2013, the Coastal Commission approved final certification of the 7th Update ordinance (that included modifications related to Issue #9 Tolling and Issue #20 Environmentally Sensitive Lands required by the Coastal Commission on June 12, 2013). The 7th Update ordinance is effective citywide.
  • Mission Beach Planned District Ordinance (PDF)- On August 9, 2012 The California Coastal Commission unconditionally certified amended Mission Beach Planned District Ordinance. The amendments generally address regulations related to allowable encroachments, determining grade, the process to deviate, and applicability of the 45 degree angled plane. The majority of the amendments address reorganization and clarification of existing language and concepts, and removal of redundant language.
  • Environmentally Sensitive Lands (ESL)- On June 6, 2012 amendments to the Environmentally Sensitive Lands (ESL) regulations became effective. The amendments to Sections 143.0110 (PDF), Table 143-01A and 143.0141 (PDF) and the Land Development Manual (LDM) Biology Guidelines (PDF) clarify the development regulations for sensitive biological resources and establish the three development scenarios under which application for deviation from the sensitive biological resources regulations may be made. The Biology Guidelines (PDF) were revised to provide more direction regarding wetland quality and impact analysis and mitigation ratios. The revised regulations do not apply in the Coastal Zone.
  • Voluntary Accessibility Program- On April 11, 2012, the Coastal Commission unconditionally certified the ordinances (O-20128 and O-19955) for the Voluntary Accessibility Program, which is an incentive program to encourage accessible design in new residential development by offering a variety of development incentives that facilitate accessible design. The program is most applicable to single dwelling unit and duplex development, but other types of residential development exempt from California Building Code Chapter 11A accessibility requirements may also qualify. In exchange for incentives, participating projects are required to meet a specified level of accessible design. The program is applicable citywide. See Municipal Code Chapter 14, Article 5, Division 40 (PDF)for program eligibility and requirements.
  • Urban Agriculture Amendments- On January 31, 2012 the City Council approved new regulations for urban agriculture that address changes to the keeping of chickens (PDF), goats (PDF) and bees (PDF); reducing the approval process for farmers markets on private property, creating two new uses farmers market stands and retail farms and minor changes to the recently adopted community garden regulations. However, the The regulations related to Farmers Markets, Retail Farms (PDF), and Community Gardens (PDF) required certification from the California Coastal Commission prior to becoming will not be effective within the City's Coastal Overlay Zone. The California Coastal Commission (CCC) unconditionally certifies certified the new regulations on June 12, 2013.
  • Airport Land Use Compatibility Overlay Zone- The City adopted a package of amendments and zoning actions to incorporate airport related regulations required by state law into a new overlay zone in the City's Land Development Code. As a result, the City is no longer required to submit development applications surrounding MCAS Miramar, Brown Field, Gillespie Field, or Montgomery Field to the Airport Authority for a consistency determination if processed in accordance with the overlay zone.
  • Amendment to the Regulations for Community Gardens (PDF)- On June 7, 2011 the City Council approved new regulations that allow community gardens to be developed easily and inexpensively in all residential and commercial zones in the City. The regulations were unconditionally certified by the California Coastal Commission (CCC) on May 8, 2013. As of this date the regulations are effective Citywide.
  • Landscape Regulations (PDF)- On November 27, 2009 new landscape regulations that expand the City's water conservation efforts go into effect. These regulations will apply to all new projects including projects submitting for building permits. The City Council and Mayor approved these regulations in compliance with the California State Water Conservation in Landscaping Act. Revisions to the Landscape Standards (PDF) have been made to reflect the changes in the regulations and also become effective on November 27, 2009.
  • 4th Update to the Land Development Code
  • 5th Update to the Land Development Code
  • 6th Update to the Land Development Code
  • Brush Management and Building Fire Regulations- The California Coastal Commission unconditionally certified these regulations on August 7, 2008. They are now in effect Citywide.
  • Large Retail Establishments (Big Box)- The California Coastal Commission unconditionally certified these regulations on October 16, 2008. They are now in effect Citywide.
  • Mini Dorms- The California Coastal Commission unconditionally certified these regulations (3 ordinances) on October 16, 2008. They are now in effect Citywide.
  • General Plan Update Amendments
  • New Construction Regulations
    The City of San Diego will be enforcing the 2007 edition of the California Building Code, Electrical Code, Fire Code, Mechanical Code and Plumbing Code as well as the California Historical Code and Existing Building Code for construction permit applications submitted on or after January 1, 2008.

    Changes are being proposed to existing regulations in chapter 5, 11, 12 and 14 of the Municipal Code necessary for consisting with the sate mandated codes. Additionally, local amendments to the State codes listed above will be updated by modifying, adding or deleting regulations in chapter 12 and 14 of the Municipal Code.

Amendments to the Land Development Code (LDC) and Local Coastal Program (LCP)

  • Pending Planning Commission Recommendation
    • The Small Lot Subdivision Ordinance (PDF) is intended to apply in multi-family zones, many of which are currently developed as single family neighborhoods. The regulations would permit the existing lot to be subdivided into smaller lots consistent with the allowable density of the base zone. Currently this is done as a multifamily condominium project that will require a home owner's (HOA) and accompanying HOA fee. This proposal would allow the lot to be subdivided into smaller lots for development of detached single family dwelling units without the need for a HOA. It is anticipated that these regulations would result in development that better complements the scale of the surrounding existing development versus the larger scale of condominium projects.
    • 9th Update to the Land Development Code- This is a package of code amendments that are part of a comprehensive update and regular maintenance of the code. There are a total of 57 amendment issues included that address processing for various permit and land use types, definitions and measurement, parking, signs, and minor corrections. The majority are regulatory reform items intended to improve the development process and to implement the City's economic development strategy in support of industrial development and the growth of local manufacturing (i.e. craft beer manufacturing). The most significant changes address the City's previously conforming regulations to establish greater consistency in application of the regulations for a more predictable outcome, increase certainty for reconstruction following fire or natural disaster, and increase opportunities for reinvestment in, and protection of, the City's older neighborhoods. The proposal is summarized in the Issue Matrix and described in the following:
    • Density Bonus
    • The Community Plan Implementation Package (PDF) has been developed to provide additional land use tools to assist in the community plan update process that is in process for several community plans. The Planning Department has identified regulations that needed to be created and regulations that needed to be modified in order to implement the visions for the new community plans. The package creates new mixed use commercial zones that allow for increased residential density; expands the types of commercial uses currently permitted in specified multi-family zones, and removes limitations on the amount of ground floor commercial; creates an exception for calculating height for mixed use buildings 45 feet in height and greater; and creates a new residential use of "Shopkeeper", that would be permitted in residential/commercial mixed use zones. Other amendments are proposed in this package as well.

      Please note this is a large file and the only changes proposed are those shown in strikeout/underline format. This SYNOPSIS (pdf) provides an overview of the package.

      Staff is requesting feedback on the proposed amendments prior to the public hearing process. Additional opportunities for public participation will be available via the typical environmental review and public hearing process for the project. Please submit comments by email to by January 9, 2015, and identify "Community Plan Implementation" in the subject line.
  • Amendment Projects in Open Public Review and Comment Period
    Staff is requesting early review and feedback for the following proposed amendments prior to the public hearing process. Additional opportunities for public participation will be available via the typical environmental review and public hearing process for the project. Please submit comments by email to
  • Amendment Projects in Early Stages