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About Planning

Planning community collageWelcome to the Planning Department!  We are proud to be carrying on the long and distinguished history of city planning here in San Diego, dating back to John Nolen's path-breaking plans for the City in 1908 and the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. As a mature city with a dwindling amount of raw land, San Diego must use its remaining land resources wisely and focus on infill development to maintain our prosperity and our quality of life, and to achieve the goals of the City's Climate Action Plan.

The Planning Department is responsible for the City's land use planning and policy. Specifically, the Department develops plans, policies, and regulations that accelerate the creation of more homes for people, protect the environment, improve public spaces and advance social equity.  The Department's initiatives are the first step in comprehensively and strategically planning for safe, enjoyable, healthy, and thriving communities in the City of San Diego.

The Planning Department's mission is to envision, plan, and create a world-class city.

The Planning Department's vision is an innovative and collaborative leader in planning.

We have become a leader among cities for our visionary approach to planning. The innovative strategies we have created have received local, state and national awards, and made us a model for other cities to follow.

Statement on Equity

The Planning Department is working towards including greater emphasis on social equity and justice as a foundational principle in the way we plan our City and its many diverse neighborhoods.  We are planning professionals with a variety of backgrounds, histories, and experiences who share a desire and passion to serve the public interest.

Recognizing that our city is comprised of many diverse aspects of identity including race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, the Planning Department is in the pursuit of ways to better allow everyone in our city to thrive. We acknowledge the effect of planning decisions on historically marginalized and underserved communities, and we are dedicated to developing equitable policies to remedy systemic inequities. 

It is our vision that every San Diegan have access to quality housing, parks, public spaces, and mobility options, which create a strong and sustainable city.  To ensure that the public input we receive is representative of the city we serve, we are committed to providing opportunities for meaningful input from all communities of people in our city.

Our work towards greater equity in city planning is an ongoing process.  We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with others to achieve the common goal of improving social equity ​in our city.

Our Divisions

The Department is structured into four divisions, each with focused specialties and staff with varied technical disciplines.

The Community Planning & Housing Division is responsible for amending and updating the City's General Plan and Community Plans.  The Division is also responsible for developing policies and regulations that streamline and incentivize the production of housing. The Department's housing policies are focused on encouraging walking, bicycling and transit ridership, environmental justice, fair housing, and reversing racist zoning regulations of the past. This Division also updates and amends the Land Development Code, prepares housing data reports, and manages the City’s long-range historic preservation efforts.

The Environmental Policy & Public Spaces Division is responsible for developing policies and regulations that further the City’s climate and open space conservation goals. The Division is also responsible for the City’s long-range park planning, which is focused on the delivery of safe and enjoyable parks in the areas of the City with the greatest needs. The Division manages the implementation and monitoring of the City’s Multiple Species Conservation Program. In addition to managing the City’s Development Impact Fee Program, the Division is also responsible for long-range infrastructure planning. Additionally, this Division conducts reviews of all City actions under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The Public Engagement Division was recently created to establish and coordinate a new program for equitable public engagement that informs the outreach and engagement process for all Department initiatives. This growing Division works to ensure community members have opportunities to provide input into plans that affect their lives so that the City’s long-range plans meet the needs of the people who live, work and play in San Diego. This Division is especially focused on reaching and engaging people who have not traditionally participated in the planning process to ensure that input received is truly representative of the City’s diverse population. This Division also develops public education to help enhance the understanding of the department’s work.

The Financial & Administrative Services Division serves as the center for all financial, technical, and administrative activities for the Department. This Division is responsible for developing, updating, and administering programs and plans that provide funding sources to support the Department’s operations, work program initiatives, as well as the funding of community-serving capital improvements. The Division provides business operations and support services, including technical GIS/mapping and innovative IT solutions that are critical to advancing the Department’s overall Work Program.