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Community Planning Group Recognition and Operations

Community Planning Group Reform logo

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.

What are Community Planning Groups (Planning Groups)?

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.

What are the benefits of serving on a Planning Group?

Joining your local Planning Group provides an opportunity to become involved in the ongoing planning and development of your neighborhood and community.

Icon for know your neighborhoods

Get to know your neighbors, different/shared perspectives and the issues that matter in your community.

Icon for gaining understanding

Gain a greater understanding of government functions and how Planning Groups influence public policy.

Icon for sharing your input

Share your input on development projects and public improvements that are planned in your neighborhood.

Icon for having a say

Have a say in the long-term future of your community.

What are Planning Groups responsible for?

  • 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.

What should Planning Groups understand?

  • 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 PDF icon Council Policy 600-09.
  • Planning Groups are one of several venues for the public to provide input and engage the City.

What has changed with Planning Groups?

In September 2022, the City Council approved changes to PDF icon 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 PDF icon Ethical Standards and a PDF icon 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.

Application Process

Application for City Council recognition is open to new and existing Planning Groups interested in representing their communities.


Submit online application by 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2023.

All of the following items need to be completed and attached to the Online Application.

Apply Online Now


City staff will review applications starting in January 2024.


If multiple applications are received for one Community Planning Area, staff will apply PDF icon evaluative criteria including PDF icon SANDAG demographic data to provide relevant information to the City Council for their consideration.PDF icon Why is demographic information being considered?


City Council hearing to consider recognitions in Spring 2024.

Workshops, Resources and Individualized Assistance

Information Session/Workshops

An Information Session geared toward new, potential groups and Planning Group members interested in representing their community was held in June, providing an introduction to Planning Groups and their role. Please see the PDF icon event flyer. Consulte el PDF icon 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 PDF icon operating procedures, incorporating PDF icon ethical standards and developing their PDF icon Community Participation and Representation Plan, as well as navigating the overall Planning Group application and compliance process. Please see the PDF icon event flyer. Consulte el PDF icon folleto del evento.

Check back soon for more opportunities and updates.


  • New Operating Procedures Template coming soon 

As a follow-up to the workshops held this summer, the following resources links are provided to assist groups with the recognition application process:


Individualized Assistance - AVAILABLE!

Do you need further assistance with your application, such as PDF icon operational proceduresPDF icon ethical standards or putting together your PDF icon Community Participation and Representation Plan?

Limited individualized assistance is available through our nonprofit partner, Institute for Public Strategies.

Submit Request for Assistance


This is the timeline for Planning Group Recognition.  Website and application will be available in June with workshops in the summer.  Applications are due on December 31, 2023.  In the spring of 2024 applications will brought to City Council for consideration.

Comment icon

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.