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Large Retail Establishments and Superstores

On June 4, 2007, the City Council unanimously approved the PDF icon Large Retail Ordinance related to the review and approval of large retail establishments (PDF icon Report to Council 06-149) . The ordinance is effective outside the coastal zone. The regulations will not be effective in the coastal overlay zone until unconditionally certified by the California Coastal Commission.

  • Neighborhood Development Permit (Process 2) required for a new large retail establishment 50,000 - 99,999 square feet
  • Site Development Permit (Process 4) required for
    • A new large retail establishment 100,000 square feet or greater.
    • An existing retail establishment that proposes expansion or a change in use that would result in a structure 100,000 square feet or greater and an increase in average daily trips.
  • Additional design and landscape regulations apply to all large retail establishments.

The Prohibition of Superstores Ordinance was vetoed by the Mayor. Superstores are large retail establishments that exceed 90,000 square feet and combine the sale of consumer goods with full service grocery sales under the same roof with common check out stands, entrances, and exits. The ordinance prohibiting superstores was originally passed by the City Council by a split vote (5-3) and was subsequently vetoed by the Mayor on June 15, 2007. (See Mayors PDF icon veto message PDF) On July 10, 2007, the City Council vote (4-4) to override the Mayor's veto did not pass. As a result, superstores are subject to the same regulations described above that apply to all large retail establishments. There are currently no superstores in the City of San Diego. A new superstore would require a discretionary development permit, environmental review per California Environmental Quality Act requirements, and preparation of associated technical studies (such as traffic and storm water) prior to approval.


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