San Diego

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What Are the Steps in the Development Review Approval Process?

The decision processes and noticing will vary depending on the type and complexity of the project. There are five basic processes. The subject matter of the development application determines the process that shall be followed for each application.

Process 1

Application Plans Submitted

Staff Level Review

Staff Decision to Approve/Deny

Process 2

Application Plans Submitted

Staff Level Review

Staff Decision to Approve/Deny

Appeal Filed to Planning Commission

Appeal Hearing by Planning Commission

Process 3:

Application Plans Submitted

Staff Level Review

Hearing Officer Hearing

Appeal Filed to P.C. or Board of Zoning Appeals

Appeal Hearing by P.C. or Boards of Zoning Appeals

Process 4:

Application Plans Submitted

Staff Level Review

Planning Commission Hearing

Appeal Filed to City Council

Appeal Hearing by City Council

Process 5:

Application Plans Submitted

Staff Level Review

P.C. Recommendation Hearing

City Council Hearing

The legal process steps that any development project must go through are established in the PDF icon San Diego Land Development Code § 112.0501 entitled Overview of Decision Process.

Ministerial and Discretionary Decisions

The five decision processes shown above fall into two primary categories, ministerial decisions or discretionary decisions. Projects reviewed and decided by Process 1 are ministerial decisions. These decisions are based solely on whether a project complies with regulations of the Municipal Code and, where applicable, any prior approved discretionary decision. If a project complies, the City must, by law, issue a permit. Process 2-5 decisions are discretionary decisions. While these projects are also subject to regulations, there is some level of discretion given to the assigned decision maker to approve or deny these projects.

Community Planning Group Review

Community Planning Groups review and provide project approval or denial recommendations for those projects subject to discretionary decisions. Community Planning Groups receive copies of all plans provided by project customers at the same time as City staff, once the project plans and documents have been deemed complete by the City. Planning groups receive training about how to review these projects in relationship to their community plan and City regulations. Projects that are subject to ministerial decisions are reviewed by City staff only and are not distributed to Community Planning Groups.

In general, the more complex the issue, or more discretion that is involved in a decision, the "higher" the process.

Additional information about the Review Process