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City Planning Department

Public Spaces Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Development Impact Fee (DIF)?

Development Impact Fees are imposed on new development projects as a one-time fee to mitigate the impact of the new development on public facilities. In 1987 the state Legislature adopted the Mitigation Fee Act (Assembly Bill 1600) to guide the imposition of development mitigation fees. The act was codified in California Government Code §66000 – 66025 and established requirements on local agencies for the imposition and administration of development impact fees. The code requires that agencies document the following five findings when adopting a fee:

  • Purpose of fee
  • Use of fee revenue
  • Benefit relationship
  • Burden relationship
  • Proportionality

What is a Development Impact Fee (DIF) Plan?

The City of San Diego produces Development Impact Fee (DIF) Plans by community to document the five legal requirements for establishing impact fees. The City currently prepares two types of DIF Plans, each representative of a different impact fee methodology: Public Facilities Financing Plan (PFFP) and Impact Fee Study (IFS). These documents identify a program of public facilities needed to serve each community in order to comply with the General Plan and respective community plan. DIF Plans may contain both detailed and general descriptions of planned facilities or public improvements by asset type. This information helps satisfy the legal requirements, but is not intended to supersede the actual City Capital Improvements Program (CIP), annual capital budget or project detail. The DIF Plans serve as a vehicle to assess a fee that provides a valuable funding source for the City CIP to provide the public facilities described in both community plans and DIF Plans.

When are Development Impact Fees Due?

The Civic Enhancement Allocation In-Lieu Fee, Neighborhood Enhancement Fee (NEF), and Exclusive Use Fee are due at Building Permit Issuance.

All other Development Impact Fees, including the Active Transportation In-Lieu Fee (ATILF), Regional Transportation Congestion Improvement Program (RTCIP) Fee, Housing Impact Fee (HIF), are due no later than prior to requesting a final inspection per San Diego Municipal Code Section 142.0640.  Applicants reserve the option to pay at Building Permit issuance.  

Can I dispute my impact fees?

If for any reason you disagree with the impact fees assessed on your development, a second opinion is available upon request. Contact your project reviewer to ask for a second opinion. San Diego Municipal Code §142.0640(e) provides a formal procedure for filing an application for a waiver or reduction of development impact fees imposed.

Can I finance my DIF Fees?

As a qualifying property owner developing property in the City of San Diego, a substantial portion of your DIF fees may be eligible for tax-exempt pooled financing through the Statewide Community Infrastructure Program (SCIP) of the California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA).  Under SCIP, CSCDA periodically issues limited obligation improvement bonds on behalf of the City to provide financing for the DIF of qualifying property owners.  More information on SCIP can be found on CSCDA’s website at For additional information, you can contact CSCDA directly by email at

What is the Capital Improvements Program (CIP)?

The Capital Improvements Program (CIP) is the long-range plan for all individual capital improvement projects and funding sources. CIP projects are unique construction projects that provide improvements or additions such as land, buildings, and infrastructure. The CIP helps enhance the overall quality of life in the City by improving the physical structures, systems, and facilities that provide services to the community.  PDF icon The Citizen's Guide to Infrastructure was produced by the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst and provides a foundation of knowledge about the City’s CIP.

The City’s General Plan provides a long-term vision and comprehensive policy framework for how the City should grow and develop, provide public services, and maintain the qualities that define the City of San Diego. Community plans are components of the General Plan that also identify public facilities that are needed to serve the community and which are required to implement the General Plan. These public facilities are generally defined or described in Development Impact Fee Plans. The Development Impact Fee Plans are therefore used in the City’s overall infrastructure planning efforts, but also used to provide a valuable funding source for the City’s CIP.

Is my accessory dwelling unit project exempt from (DIF)?

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are required to pay DIF as follows:

  • All proposed ADUs under than 750 square feet in gross floor area are exempt from DIF.
  • The first two proposed ADUs on a premise are exempt from DIF, regardless of the gross floor area, under SDMC Section 142.0640(b)(1)(a)
  • Proposed ADUs that are in excess of the first two ADUs on the premise, and that are equal to or greater than 750 square feet in gross floor area, are required to pay DIF at the multiple dwelling unit rate per 142.0640(b)(1)(b).

Is my affordable housing project exempt from DIF?

No. Affordable housing units are required to pay DIF. They are however, exempt from the Regional Transportation Congestion Improvement Program (RTCIP) Fee. For an affordable housing unit to receive RTCIP exemption, the developer must submit evidence of a recorded Affordable Housing Agreement to the Public Spaces Division reviewer.