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Economic Development

Storefront Improvement Program

The Storefront Improvement Program (SIP) revitalizes building facades visible to customers, neighboring merchants and residents. The City of San Diego provides free professional design assistance and financial incentives to small business owners who wish to make a creative change to and improve the curb appeal of their storefronts.


This program is set up to help small businesses create and implement a plan for improving their street-facing appearance. Program steps start with an eligible applicant completing the online application. Next, the City works with applicants to create a design plan, considering the budget and goals of the project. Once a design plan is finalized, the applicant can begin the installation of the agreed upon design elements. The final step is to submit all expense documentation for reimbursement.

In FY2023 (ending June 30, 2023) , the SIP completed 14 projects throughout the City and provided $84,560 in incentives, leveraging $168,474 in private funds. The guidelines and procedures of the Storefront Improvement Program are outlined in Council Policy 900-17.

Program Incentives

The City of San Diego offers three different rebate options through the SIP:

  • Standard: Awards the applicant for one-half of the eligible construction costs up to an $8,000 maximum.
  • Historic Restoration: Awards the applicant for two-thirds of the eligible construction costs up to a $12,000 maximum. Historic photos showing the property as it will be restored to must be submitted.
  • Multiple-Tenant Commercial: Awards the applicant one-half of the eligible construction costs up to a $16,000 maximum. The applicant must be the property owner and one of at least three (3) street-facing businesses.
  • Promise Zone: Awards participants an additional 30% above their approved reimbursement amount.

Eligibility Guidelines

All applications are subject to review for eligibility.

Requirements: The SIP is open to small businesses (25 or fewer employees) that are located in the City of San Diego, face a public street, and have a valid business tax certificate. The applicant must be a commercial occupant of the subject property.

Program Exclusions: National franchises, office buildings larger than 80,000 square feet, residential rental buildings (apartments), home-based businesses, storefronts that do not face the public right-of-way, government-owned and -occupied buildings, churches and other religious institutions are not eligible. Properties that have received a SIP rebate within the past five years and projects that have already begun or completed renovations/construction are also ineligible. Applicants who have applied in the past two years are not eligible.

Eligible Improvements: These include the installation of new awnings, windows, doors, lighting, paint, landscaping, tile or other decorative material and signs. Improvements categorized as maintenance are not eligible. The removal of security bars and code compliance for signage violations are also eligible for the rebate.

The design parameters include:

  • Telling the story of the business through good design;
  • Respecting original features of the building, including the use of color and suitable materials;
  • Limiting additional signage by incorporating it into the building's design; and 
  • Using of suitable landscaping that will aid in the preservation of community scale and character.

Ineligible Improvements: Any work done before applying to and participating in the program is not eligible. Any work done by vendors or contractors who are not licensed according to local and state laws is not eligible.

Application Guidelines

Applicants will be asked to provide basic information about the property, including ownership. Applicants will also be asked to consider what types of improvements they'd like to make, what goals they'd like the improvements to achieve and how much they're able to spend on the projects.  Each applicant must upload two photos from different views of the storefront with their application submittal. Permission to participate from the property owner (form) and a refundable deposit of $250 will be collected soon after the application is approved.

The program administrator will contact applicants via email within 7 business days of application submittal. Be sure to check your Spam inbox for any emails ending in “” if you do not receive communication within that time. 

The SIP Application is available through SeamlessDocs. To optimize SeamlessDocs functionality, please use Mozilla Firefox, Chrome or Safari browsers.

Storefront Improvement Program Application.

Storefront Improvement Program Successes

Cool Creations | Pacific Beach
1749 Garnet Ave., San Diego, CA 92109
Completed: November 2023  |  Total cost: $28,269  |  SIP incentive: $8,000
Key improvements: Fresh paint scheme, lighting, signage, mansard rebuild, new tile along groundline 


Cool Creations shop before SIP


Cool Creations shop after SIP

Little Flower| College Area
5547 El Cajon Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92115
Completed: August 2023  |  Total cost: $1,034  |  SIP incentive: $517
Key improvements: Fresh paint scheme, mural, solar light sconces, address numbers 


Little Flower shop before SIP


Little Flower shop after SIP

Mission Brewery | Kensington-Talmadge
4067 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA 92116
Completed: August 2023  |  Total cost: $19,720  |  SIP incentive: $8,000
Key improvements: Fresh paint scheme, lighting, signage, install roll-up garage door, new storefront door, sidewalk café railing upgrade


Mission Brewery restaurant before SIP


Mission Brewery restaurant after SIP

Printing on 5th | Uptown
3302 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
Completed: October 2022  | Total cost: $16,421  | SIP incentive: $8,000
Key improvements: Fresh paint scheme, planter boxes and trellises, window graphic 


Printing on Fifth shop before SIP


Printing on Fifth shop after SIP