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Development Services

Life Science Industry Accelerator

Questions? Book an appointment to meet virtually with a Development Project Manager to address your questions and review your project ideas before applying for a permit or submitting for a new permit.

A picture of a scientists pouring liquid in a test tube.

The Development Services Department's Life Science Industry Accelerator provides dedicated resources and information to help the life science industry expand and succeed in San Diego. The services are designed to help the life science industry with its building permit needs, making it faster and easier to get permits, construct and obtain inspections.

A Development Project Manager is assigned to each project within the Life Science Industry Accelerator. In addition, plan reviewers with specific knowledge of life science industry processes and issues are designated to review most projects within the program. Projects within the program are encouraged to utilize Express Processing.

Plan Your Project

Project Prioritization Tiers

The Life Science Industry Accelerator is a new program that is constantly improving and expanding. Participation in the accelerator program is limited to ensure that each project within the program is successful. To help control the number of projects within the program, the following list of prioritization tiers and responsibilities will help all qualified projects receive available resources based on project scope and tier level.

  • Tier 1: Tenant improvements for identified life science industry businesses. For select scopes of work, a Development Project Manager and a dedicated plan review team will be assigned.
  • Tier 2: New buildings for an identified life science industry business. A Development Project Manager will be assigned.  
  • Tier 3: Speculative tenant improvements without an identified life science industry business. Development Project Managers will be available to troubleshoot issues.  
  • Tier 4: Speculative new buildings without an identified life science industry business. Development Project Managers will be available to troubleshoot issues.  
  • Promise Zone: Projects within the San Diego Promise Zone will be eligible for the level of assistance provided to a project located in the immediately higher tier. 

Eligible Life Science Industry Business Types

Verify using the chart below if your project (buy business type)  is eligible for entry into this program.  

Business Code City Land Use Category Building Code Occupancy Classification
Industrial Gas Manufacturing Very Heavy Industrial Use F-1 or H
Nitrogenous Fertilizer Manufacturing Heavy Manufacturing F-1 or H

Medicinal Manufacturing

Botanical Manufacturing

Pharmaceutical Preparation

In-Vitro Diagnostic Substance 

Biological Product

Electromedical Apparatus

Electrotherapeutic Apparatus

Analytical Laboratory Instrument

Irradiation Apparatus

Surgical and Medical Instruments

Surgical Appliances and Supplies

Dental Equipment and Supplies

Ophthalmic Goods

Light Manufacturing F-1 or H
Merchant Wholesalers of Medical, Dental, Hospital Equipment and Supplies

Distribution and Storage Use

Distribution Facilities 

B, F-1 or H
Industrial Testing Laboratories Testing Labs B, F-1 or H
Scientific and Technical Consulting Services Office Use – Business and Professional Office B
Research and Development in Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Physical, Engineering and Life Sciences Research and Development B or H
Medical Laboratories Medical, Dental and Health Practitioner B

Verify Zoning for the Project

  1. Check the zoning information for the parcel. 
  2. Verify if you need a preliminary review.
  3. Make a virtual appointment to address any questions before submitting an application for a permit.

Don't qualify?

The City's Economic Development Department can assist businesses/developers with projects that don't qualify for the Life Science Industry Accelerator; Inquiries can be directed to


Plan review, development impact fees, water and sewer, school and inspection fees vary based on the type of project. Please review Information Bulletin 501 for more information.


Inspections are required for all building construction projects and occur during different phases. Please review Information Bulletin 120 for more information.

Compliant Outdoor Expansion

Apply for a Permit

Step 1

Book an Appointment

Schedule an appointment to meet virtually with a Development Project Manager (DPM) to address your questions and review your project ideas before applying for a permit or if a permit in process needs troubleshooting assistance. The DPM will review your proposal and provide you with directions on which permit(s) to apply for and how to resolve any issues through review and issuance.

Step 2

Apply for the permit

  1. For Tier 1 & Tier 2 Projects - In Accela, select "Active Management"
  2. Select DPM's name that you met with in virtual appointment or Nathan White to assign project
  3. For Tier 3 & Tier 4 Projects - In Accela, do not select "Active Management" 
  4. Select "Express or Standard Processing"
  5. Upload all applicable documents and information to get project number, setup, invoicing and routing into review.

If you experience a delay in invoicing please schedule another Life Science virtual appointment for additional assistance on Tier 1 & Tier 2 developments. For Tier 3 & Tier 4 projects schedule a Building Permit Setup virtual appointment.

Additional Resources

Technical Assistance

  • Don't qualify? The City's Economic Development Department can assist businesses/developers with projects that don't qualify for the Life Science Industry Accelerator; Inquiries can be directed to
  • Ask a CASp: If you have a question concerning the application of the State of California accessibility standards to a specific built environment, space, a building, or want to know how the City will interpret an accessibility provision of the California Building Code, ask a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) City official for an answer.

Business Resources

  • Business Cooperation Program: This program encourages businesses and nonprofit corporations with significant equipment and construction expenditures to take part in the program, thereby allocating sales and use taxes to the City. This increases the City's General Fund revenues used to provide various services that support the business community, such as infrastructure, public safety and fire protection. In exchange, the Business Cooperation Program can provide a tax rebate of 45% of the local 1% sales or use tax paid in connection with San Diego-based operations.

  • Business Resource Matcher: Here, you can search different resources, such as rebates, loans, tax credits and other online tools available for your business.
  • Business Incentive Program: The City of San Diego's Economic Development Department encourages inclusive economic growth through the expansion, attraction and retention of small and mid-sized firms in San Diego's base-sector economy.
  • California Business Incentives Gateway: Search all state and local business development incentives in this single access point. Provided by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), this resource allows you to search for targeted tax breaks, training grants, fee waivers, permit assistance, low-cost or tax-exempt financing, reduced utility rates and other online resources.
  • California Research & Development Tax Credits: State-sponsored Research & Development tax credits are available if a business paid for or incurred qualified research expenses while conducting qualified research in California. 
  • California Manufacturing and Research & Development Equipment Sales Tax Exemption: Companies may qualify for a partial exemption from sales and use tax on the purchase or lease of qualified machinery and equipment primarily used in manufacturing, research and development, and electric power generation or production, storage or distribution.
  • Foreign Trade Zone Program: Companies importing goods into the U.S. can save money, be more competitive and expand their business by participating in the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Program. Benefits include special customs procedures, including duty exemptions and deferrals, inverted tariffs, streamlined logistics and other savings.
  • Guaranteed Water for Industry Program This program assures businesses with a reliable water supply for manufacturing and research and development (R&D) firms, which depend highly on water for industrial processing and cooling needs. Businesses can apply to the City of San Diego to have a site certified as "exempt" from the water-use restrictions during Drought Response Level 2 if they implement process water conservation measures such as the internal reuse of water on-site.
  • San Diego's Startup Ecosystem: Explore local startup incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces and where to find them in the City of San Diego.
  • San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation