Planning Group Recognition and Operations
The City of San Diego is fortunate to have dedicated and passionate community members that serve our city through their involvement in the City's planning projects and initiatives. Beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, the City Council adopted policies that established and recognized community planning groups as formal advisory bodies to provide input on land use decisions. More recently, additional changes have been made to these policies to ensure consistency with the City's Charter and ensure that Planning Groups continue into the future to reflect the demographics of our city's diverse population and provide input on land use decisions.
Planning Groups provide community members an opportunity to make recommendations to City decision-makers, including the Planning Commission and City Council, on certain development projects and other long-range planning and zoning regulations. The City Planning Department values the efforts of each of the Planning Groups to help ensure representation and input that reflects the people that live in the City's communities.
Joining your local Planning Group provides an opportunity to become involved in the ongoing planning and development of your neighborhood and community.
Get to know your neighbors, different/shared perspectives and the issues that matter in your community.
Gain a greater understanding of government functions and how Planning Groups influence public policy.
Share your input on development projects and public improvements that are planned in your neighborhood.
Have a say in the long-term future of your community.
- Reviewing projects that require a development permit (discretionary projects) that are sent to Planning Groups from the City and providing advisory recommendations on these projects.
- Providing advisory recommendations on land use matters, such as amendments to the General Plan and to Community Plans.
- Project applicants are not required to come before Planning Groups for input; however, it is highly encouraged.
- Planning groups do not review ministerial projects. These are projects that do not require a development permit, such as a Conditional Use Permit, Site Development Permit, etc. In other words, projects that do not require a decision-maker to use discretion in approving a project.
- Planning groups may always reach out to their assigned Community Planner with questions.
- The City Attorney’s Office does not advise Planning Groups. Always reach out to your assigned Community Planner with questions and advice on planning group operations.
- Land use matters that are citywide or regional in scope are heard by the Community Planners Committee (CPC) whose roles and responsibilities are governed by Council Policy 600-09.
- Planning Groups are one of several venues for the public to provide input and engage the City.
In September 2022, the City Council approved changes to Council Policy 600-24, which defines the roles, responsibilities and standard operating procedures of Planning Groups. These changes focused on improving transparency, broadening community representation and reflecting Planning Groups' legal status as independent organizations, consistent with the City Charter.
Under the new changes, Planning Groups will be required to:
- Proactively seek Council recognition upon Council approval of the policy updates and prior to Dec. 31, 2023.
- Update individual governing bylaws and create new advisory documents such as Ethical Standards and a Community Participation and Representation Plan. Upcoming workshops and individualized assistance will be available to provide help and support to all groups with drafting these documents. Please see the Workshops and Individualized Assistance section of this webpage.
- Take ownership of their own official documents and records.
- Consider designating seats for renters, stakeholders and business representatives to ensure voting members are representative of the broader community.
- Prohibit attendance requirements for annual election vote or candidacy.
- Collect demographic data of existing and new Planning Group voting members and the community at large and submit to the City as part of its annual report. The City Planning Department will share templates for the provision of these required reports.
Strategic Plan Priority Areas of Focus
This program focuses on the following priority areas of the Strategic Plan:
Protect & Enrich Every Neighborhood
Ensures that Planning Groups operate in a manner that is transparent to the public, accessible to and inclusive of all community members, and reflects the diversity of the communities where they operate.
Two Information Sessions geared toward new, potential groups interested in representing their communities were held in June and October, providing an introduction to Planning Groups and their role. June Information Session: event flyer. Consulte el folleto del evento. October Information Session: event flyer. Consulte el folleto del evento.
Three hybrid (in-person/virtual) workshops were held in July to provide Planning Groups and potentially new, interested groups with support for formulating their new operating procedures, incorporating ethical standards and developing their Community Participation and Representation Plan, as well as navigating the overall Planning Group application and compliance process. Please see the event flyer. Consulte el folleto del evento.
- New Operating Procedures Template
- An optional Operating Procedures template is now available to assist planning groups with creating their Operating Procedures for planning group recognition. The template is based on Council Policy 600-24's Terms and Conditions attachment and includes additional details, fill-ins, links, and prompts for describing a planning group's operations and procedures.
As a follow-up to the workshops held this summer, the following resources links are provided to assist groups with the recognition application process:
- Member Composition Worksheet and Forms. As an alternative option to filling out the member composition section on the online application, these forms can be attached to the online application to aggregate the demographic information instead:
- Adopted Planning Group bylaws. The bylaws of existing Planning Groups can be referenced for examples of standing procedures on the Community Bylaws webpage.
- Council Policy 600-24 Administrative Guidelines (2015)
- O-19883 Ordinance providing for defense and indemnification of Planning Groups.
Send Us Your Comments
Questions and comments about the Planning Group Recognition and Operations Process are welcome and can be sent to SDPlanningGroups@sandiego.gov.