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Development Services

Permit Instructions, Procedures for Building Demolition/Removal

Permission to Utilize Your Property (Prior to Demolition) to Perform a Variety of Drills.

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) requests your permission to utilize your property to perform a variety of training drills prior to the building being demolished. The City of San Diego will only conduct these drills after a release of liability agreement is signed between you, the property owner, and SDFD. This agreement is for your protection. The City will also require a copy of the Demolition/Removal Permit and Hazard Abatement Release before any training is conducted. For any additional questions, please call SDFD at 619-533-4300 and request to speak to the Operations Support Captain.

When Is a Permit Required?

Demolition/Removal Permits are required for the complete demolition and/or removal of any structure (see SDMC §129.0503 for Demolition/Removal Permit Exemptions), including the dismantling of telecommunication facilities. All open plumbing and sewer lines must be capped in an approved manner, whether a demolition permit is required or not. A separate permit is not required for the capping of the sewer.

Exemptions from a permit do not apply if the site contains a designated Historical Resource structure(s) or is located in a designated historical district, in accordance with SDMC §143.0210(d) and §143.0211; or when a discretionary permit has been previously issued requiring implementation of a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program for Historical Resources.

Demolition permits will not be issued on a property where a development permit (Neighborhood Use Permit, Neighborhood Development Permit, Conditional Use Permit, Variance, Coastal Development Permit, Site Development Permit or Planned Development Permit) is also being processed by the City until a decision has been made by the appropriate authority in accordance with the Land Development Code.

A Demolition/Removal Permit is not required to demolish part of a structure except when dismantling telecommunication facilities. Partial demolition will require a Building Permit in accordance with SDMC Chapter 12, Article 9, Division 2.

Section I, Table 1 – Submittal and Issuance Requirements

Structure to be Demolished or Removed Required at Submittal Required at Issuance Building Pool ≤ 5’ Deep Pool > 5’ Deep
Residential Non-Residential Residential Non-Residential Residential Non-Residential
Application Package R - R R R R R R
Historical Resource Information R - R R R R R R
Waste Management Form - R R4 R4 - - - -
SD Regional Hazardous Materials Questionnaire - R R1 R R1 R R1 R
SDG&E Certification of Discontinuance - R R R - - - -
Site Plan R - R2 R2 R2 R2 R2 R2
Soils Compaction Report5 R - - - - - R R
Storm Water Submittal Requirements R - R3 R3 - - - -

1 Required for residential buildings when there is more than one building on the property (excluding garages and small outbuildings) and residential buildings with more than four dwelling units. 
2 Required for Downtown Community Plan Area, Historic Potential and/or Historic Designated, project sites greater than one acre and Wireless Communication Sites. 
3 Construction Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) must be applied at all construction sites. Further stormwater review is required for sites containing one acre or more. See Section II.H.
4 Required for demolition of structure(s) only, not required for transfer of structures to a temporary or new permanent site. See Information Bulletin 711 for Relocation of Structures.
5 Soils Compaction Report only required for final inspection.

Submittal and Issuance Requirements

The Submittal & Issuance Matrix and Minimum Submittal Requirements Checklist found in Section II, Table 1 above identifies the forms, documents and plans that are required for all Demolition/Removal Permits.

Note: A contractor with an A or C-21 class license may obtain a demolition permit. A contractor with a B-1 class license may obtain a demolition/removal permit if that contractor’s name appears on a current construction permit for the site. An owner-builder may also obtain a permit.

Section II, Table 1 - Historical Resource Information


Building Record


Site Plan

All structures are less than 45 years old




Any structure is 45 years old

See Information Bulletin 580 for Supplemental Requirements

Designated Historic Resource or within a Historic District

See Information Bulletin 581 for Supplemental Requirements

1 Call the County of San Diego Assessor’s Office at 858-505-6262 to verify the location of the Building Record. If the Building Record is inconclusive or unclear, the project will need to be submitted for Potential Historic Review.

  • Waste Management Form 
    Not required for demolition of pools. A refundable Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris Recycling Deposit may be required at permit issuance and is collected on behalf of the City's Environmental Services Department. The deposit encourages the diversion of construction and demolition debris from local landfills and ensures materials are recycled, re-used or donated. The Deposit Schedule is listed in the C&D Debris Recycling Fact Sheet. If a C&D Deposit is required, a completed Waste Management Form must be provided.
  • San Diego Regional Hazardous Materials Questionnaire
    Required for all demolition/removal, except as noted below. A San Diego Regional Hazardous Materials Questionnaire (HM-9171) is required for all Demolition/Removal Permits; however, most residences and swimming pools accessory to these residences are exempt and do not require an HM-9171. Residences that require an HM-9171 include more than one residential building on the property (excluding garages and small outbuildings) and residential single buildings with more than four dwelling units.

A notification form can be obtained from the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District or by calling 858-586-2660.

  • Certificate of Discontinuance 
    Not required for all demolition/removal of pools or structures that do not have a meter. A Certificate of Discontinuance of Service for each building to be demolished is required from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Please call SDG&E at 619-230-7800.
  • Site Plan
    Projects proposing demolition of structures on a site greater than one acre, containing any structure 45 years or older (See Information Bulletin 580), containing a designated historic resource or located within a historic district (See Information Bulletin 581), wireless communication sites, and/or within the Downtown Community Plan area require a demolition site plan. Demolition permits within the Downtown Community Plan are reviewed for compliance with the Downtown Community Plan FEIR Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP). 

The site plan must be drawn to scale, include the property lines, legal description, location and the dimension of all buildings and site features to be removed/remain (e.g., parking lot, fence, or any other structures) and limit of work demarcation.

  • Soils Compaction Report
    Not required for demolition/removal of buildings. For the demolition of a swimming pool greater than five feet deep, a final soils compaction report is required. 

A final soils compaction report prepared by a licensed geotechnical or civil engineer must be submitted to the Building Inspector before completion of the Demolition Permit

  • Stormwater Requirements
    Demolition/Removal projects are required to implement effective Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) to eliminate discharge of pollutants to the storm drain conveyance system and to receiving water bodies. 

If the demolition involves excavation or grading that results in ground disturbance (defined as an area where vegetation, topsoil or overburden has been removed or where topsoil, spoil and processed waste has been placed, including landscaping) associated with a project of one acre or greater, the project is subject to the State Construction General Permit, the property owner is required to prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan and obtain a Notice of Intent from the State Water Board prior to issuance of a Demolition Permit. 

It is the responsibility of the property owner or his/her designee (contractor) to select, install and maintain appropriate BMPsduring the demolition process and after all work is completed. A list of construction BMPs is provided for reference in Part 2, Chapter 5 of the City of San Diego Stormwater Standards Manual. Best Management Practices must be installed in accordance with an industry-recommended standard or in accordance with the requirements of the Construction General Permit (CGP). More information about BMPs is provided in statewide stormwater BMP manuals (the California Stormwater Quality Association Construction BMP Online Handbook and the Caltrans Construction Site BMP Manual).

Required Notifications and Approvals

In addition to the submittal requirements above, you may need the following items in order to obtain your Demolition Permit. 

  • Coastal Approval 
    For structures located in the Coastal Zone, approval from the City of San Diego Development Services Department or from the State of California Coastal Commission is required. To determine the coastal jurisdiction and research zoning and property information, visit the Zoning and Parcel Information Portal (ZAPP). This online service helps users access real-time information from a computer or mobile device 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • San Diego Unified Port District 
    A Project Approval from the Port District is required to demolish or remove structures within the Port District's jurisdiction. The project approval must include the Port District and Coastal Development Permit numbers. Contact the Port District at 619-686-6291. 
  • Buildings with Underground Fuel Tanks
    A Demolition Permit is not required to remove underground fuel tanks; however, a permit is required from the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, which you can reach at 619-533-4477. Additionally, a permit is required from the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality, reachable at 858-505-6700. A separate Grading Permit issued by the City of San Diego may also be required (see below).
    Note: If new tanks will replace the existing ones, a grading permit is not required. 
  • Grading Permit 
    A separate Grading Permit will be required prior to the issuance of a Demolition Permit when the demolition of buildings or structures results in a slope of five feet or greater, fill exceeding five feet in depth (except for the filling of swimming pools), ground disturbance of one acre or greater or if the demolition of buildings or structures meets any of the conditions listed in SDMC §129.0602. 
  • Buildings with Wells or Septic Tanks
    An inspection is required from the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health and Quality for demolishing any building on the property with a well or septic tank. Contact the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health at 858-505-6700. 
  • Traffic Control Permit
    Pedestrian protection may be required before demolition can begin. The protection shall be in accordance with section 3306 of the California Building Code. A traffic control permit is required when erecting barricades and pedestrian protection in the public right of way. See Information Bulletin 177 “How to Obtain a Right-of-Way Permit for Traffic Control.” 
  • Electrical or Gas Welding or Gas Cutting 
    All electrical or gas welding or gas cutting requires a permit issued by the City of San Diego Fire Marshall and shall comply with Chapter 26 of the California Fire Code. 
  • Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Hotel Regulations
    The San Diego Housing Commission or successor agency, as the agency responsible for administering the SRO hotel regulations,  reviews each application for a permit to demolish or convert a hotel to identify any SRO hotel or SRO hotel room that is not exempt from regulations under SDMC §143.0520. Contact the San Diego Housing Commission at 619-231-9400.


Certain fees are charged to cover the costs of reviewing a building demolition/removal and to ensure compliance with applicable City of San Diego regulations. Fees also cover pre-demolition inspections when required and inspections to ensure the lot cleanup, sewer cap and utility disconnects after the building/structure is demolished or removed. The following Plan Check Fees are required to be paid prior to review unless indicated below.

  • Plan Check and Inspection Fee
Plan Check Fee $237.56
Inspection Fee $278.86
Historic Review $227.24/hour (if applicable)
Engineering Review $303.94/hour (if applicable)
  • Records Fee
Plan Check FeeRecords Fee - No Plan/Other  $35.48
  • Lead Hazard Prevention Fee

    This fee is collected on behalf of the Environmental Services Department for the demolition of any structure built before 1979. The fee is meant to meet operational expenses associated with education, outreach and enforcement of the Lead Hazard Prevention and Control Ordinance (City Council Resolution R-303490)

    Renovation or demolition work impacting lead-based painted surfaces can generate dangerous lead dust and soil contamination levels. Children are most at risk for lead poisoning and can be exposed to dust and soil contamination long after the work has been completed. Workers are at risk of exposing their own children to lead hazards by tracking contaminated dust and soil from the worksite into their own cars and homes. Studies have shown that even low levels of lead can cause damage to the brain, the central nervous system, and the kidneys and cause behavioral problems and loss of IQ. There is no medical treatment to reverse the damaging health effects of lead.

Sections 54.1005 through 54.1006 of the San Diego Municipal Code describe the lead-safe work practices that need to be taken by anyone disturbing painted surfaces in pre-1979 structures or steel structures of any age. Visit the Lead-Safety and Healthy Homes Program webpage at for more information. 

Lead Hazard Prevention Fee $31.00
  • Construction & Demolition (C&D) Debris Recycling Deposit 
    A refundable C&D Debris Recycling Deposit may be required at permit issuance and is collected on behalf of the Environmental Services Department.

Submittal Instructions

All forms, documents and applications are now submitted electronically. Visit to create an account and begin the submittal process.

Permit Expiration 

The permit will become void if the work authorized and required has not begun within 60 calendar days of the permit issuance and has not been validated by an inspection (SMDC §129.0508). Also, the permit will expire if the work authorized is not completed within 120 days (SDMC §129.0509). One 60-day extension may be granted if work is delayed for reasons beyond the permittee’s control (SDMC §129.0510).

To apply for an extension, complete and send a Request for Building & Demolition/Removal Permit Extension (DS-117) to


  • Construction Stormwater BMP
    Effective construction stormwater BMPs are required to prevent the discharge of pollutants into the stormwater conveyance system. Best Management Practices must address entrances/exits, perimeter controls, inlets, general housekeeping, erosion/sediment controls and washouts.

Failure to implement proper BMPs may result in one or more of the following enforcement actions depending on the severity of the stormwater violation.

An inspection for construction stormwater BMPs will be scheduled upon issuance of the Demolition/Removal Permit.

  • Correction Notice (DS-3)
    Issued for each stormwater violation. Multiple notices may result in further enforcement action.
  • Re-Inspection Fees
    Multiple or egregious violations may be assessed for re-inspection fees, which must be paid in full before inspections can continue.
  • No Further Inspections
    Inspections will become unavailable until all proper BMPs are implemented.
  • Stop Work Warning Letter
    Multiple or Stop Work Warning Letter. This would lead to a Stop Work Order if violations are not corrected within an established time frame. The case will be referred to the City Attorney’s Office.
  • Administrative Citation
    May be issued in the amount of $500 or $1,000 for projects with multiple violations or when there is a non-recoverable discharge that enters into a sensitive water body, drain inlet or other watercourses.
  • Civil Penalty and Order
    May be issued in the amount of up to $10,000/day per violation for projects with a total disregard for previously issued Administrative Citations or severe violations.
  • Stop Work Order
    Projects with multiple or egregious violations may be issued a Stop Work Order authorized by the City Attorney’s Office.
  • Sewer Cap
    The sewer line must be capped on private property within five feet of the property line. An approved no-hub, clamp-type coupling with cap, or other approved capping device, is required. Concrete fill is not acceptable. The sewer cap must be left exposed for inspection.
  • Debris Removal
    All construction debris must be removed from the site.
  • Utility Lines
    All gas and electric lines must be disconnected and removed.