SAN DIEGO COUNTY
Permit Applications

Planning and Development Services (PDS) leads the review of privately-initiated development permit applications within unincorporated San Diego County. Applications are processed by the Building, Land Development, or Project Planning Divisions of PDS, depending on the type of project. Because several aspects of the review process can also involve the Departments of Public Works (DPW), Parks and Recreation (DPR), Environmental Health (DEH), and/or the San Diego County Fire Authority, these departments and PDS work together as needed to make the application process as seamless and efficient as possible for our customers.

General Land Development Process


The Land Development process is generally broken into three phases: 1. Discretionary Permit Phase, 2. Site Preparation, and 3. Building Permit. The Discretionary Permit Phase is where an applicant obtains the necessary entitlements to develop a project while undergoing environmental review. The Site Preparation Phase is where an applicant receives the necessary grading and improvement permits to construct the infrastucture to serve a project. The Building Permit Phase is where the applicant receives the permits to construct the buildings associated with a project. Permit Guides located at the links below have been prepared to assist customers with navigating the permit process.

Permit Applications and Guides


Below you will find applications, as well as guides for completing them and providing all necessary documents, forms, and deposits, for every permit issued by PDS.

1. Discretionary Permit Phase (Project Planning Division)

PDS reviews discretionary projects while working cooperatively with multiple departments within the County of San Diego. Discretionary permits require review and approval by a decision-maker to authorize the construction and operation of a land use and are reviewed in conformance with applicable regulations and ordinances as well as the California Environmental Quality Act. Not all projects require discretionary permits and a customer should review the user guides located at the link below to determine if their project requires a discretionary permit. Typical discretionary permits consist of Site Plans, Administrative Permits, Tentative Maps, and Use Permits.

2. Site Development Phase (Land Development Division)

PDS provides engineering and review services for construction and development projects in cooperation with the Department of Public Works. Duiring the site development phase, permits are typically tied to previous discretionary permts and are required to demonstrate compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and applicable regulations and ordinance. Typical PDS permits consist of Final Maps, Grading Plans, and Improvement Plans.

3. Building Permit Phase (Building Division)

PDS processes permits including a wide range of building permits for projects that have obtained the necessary entitlements to develop a property. Ministerial permits, typically including Building Permits, do not require discretionary review and are approved by staff if the project complies with all applicable regulations and ordinances through coordination with County departments and divisions. Ministerial or building permits occur after the discretionary permit phase when applicable.

Additional Resources


Application Submittals

You may submit applications online or in person at the County Permit Center located at our County Operations Center on the 1st floor of 5510 Overland Ave, San Diego, CA 92123.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Training

To watch the Planning & Development Services California Environmental Quality Act for Stakeholders Training Video, please click the link below:

Staff Contact Information

For additional questions or information regarding submitting applications to Planning and Development services, please click here to email staff.