Centerline Application User Guide

Expand All | Collapse All


    A Centerline Review is a review process required for some types of development to ensure adequate public right-of-way and infrastructure is available based on the scope of the project. This process is usually tied to a Building Permit, but it can be initiated prior to a Building Permit if identified through a Site Plan Permit, Administrative Permit, or another discretionary permit. The San Diego County Centerline Ordinance sets requirements for right-of-way, street improvement standards, and setbacks.

    The Centerline Review is performed by the Department of Planning & Development Services (PDS) and on behalf of the Department of Public Works (DPW).  The Building Division will identify whether a Centerline Review is required during the plan check submittal process, and the application will be processed through the Land Development Division. Once the review is complete, Land Development will issue a letter (referred to as a Centerline Referral Letter) identifying the required public road improvements or right-of-way dedications (if any).  If improvements are required, the customer must process an Improvement Plan Permit or Construction Permit for the work. The Building Plan process can occur concurrently, but the Building Permit cannot be issued until all required Centerline permits are issued.  Additionally, occupancy cannot be issued for the building until all conditions of the Centerline Referral Letter are satisfied, including completion of improvements and road dedications, if required.  The Land Development Counter will stamp the building plans once evidence of completion of the Centerline Referral Conditions are provided.

    PDS is committed to helping customers navigate the centerline review process and ensuring customer satisfaction. When issues arise, applicants can request a Project Issue Resolution (PIR) Conference at any time in the process to discuss issues with Executive Management and County project staff.


    The San Diego County Centerline Ordinance contains criteria on what types of activities require a Centerline Review.  A summary of these scenarios is listed below: 

    • New construction on property in a commercial zone
    • New construction on property in a manufacturing zone
    • New construction on property in a multi-family zone
    • The alteration of an existing building or accessory structure or the construction or erection of one or more buildings or accessory structures on the same property where the total value of the work to be completed within any one-year period exceed one-half of the current market value of all existing structures on that property and the alteration of any existing building on the property will result in a "change of use" or "change of occupancy" as those terms are used in the County Building Code.When quantities of excavation or fill result in the movement of material exceeding 200 cubic yards.

    In some circumstances, Section 51.305 of the Centerline Ordinance exempts specific work from requiring a centerline review.  The following is a summary of activities that are exempt from the Centerline Ordinance:

    • A one-family or two-family dwelling unit and any structure accessory to the dwelling unit.
    • The alteration of an existing building or accessory structure or the construction or erection of one or more buildings or accessory structures on the same property where the total value of the work to be completed within any one-year period will not exceed one-half of the current market value of all existing structures on that property and the alteration of any existing building on the property will not result in a "change of use" or "change of occupancy" as those terms are used in the County Building Code.
    • An outdoor sign or other advertising display.
    • An agricultural building.
    • An oil well.

    Land Use Regulation on Tribal Reservation Fee Lands – County regulatory authority and ordinances do not apply to Tribal Reservation Fee Lands.  Therefore, although not subject to County Centerline Ordinance, the County Department of Public Works (DPW) Director is delegated authority in the County Code to condition encroachment permits to protect public road right-of-way.  A Public Road Improvement Plan along with a Special Conditions Agreement detailing the performance and obligations for completion of improvements must been submitted and reviewed by County staff to allow the necessary right-of-way permits to be issued to construct and inspect any work performed within County public right-of-way.

    To determine if your project requires a Centerline Review or qualifies for one of the exemptions listed above, please contact our Building Services Division at (858) 565-5920 or toll-free (888) 336-7553. 


    In addition to the grading ordinance, there are several other ordinances that a proposed grading permit may need to comply with.  Below is a list and link to some of the common ordinances that apply to grading permits:

    In addition to the Ordinances listed above, grading permit applications must conform with adopted County design manuals and standards.  The most common design manuals and standards are listed below:


    For the completion of any required improvements or right-of-way dedications, coordination with various departments may be required, depending upon the proposed project and potential impacts. Depending upon the specifics of the project, outside agency approval can also be required. Some examples of other departments and jurisdictions that may be involved in the permit process include:



    • The Department of Public Works: Private Development Construction Inspection, Flood Control, Field Operations, Materials Lab, Special Districts for Private Road Districts (PRD), Wastewater Engineering, Traffic Engineering, Watershed Protection, and Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Divisions. 
    • Department of General Services


    • Local Fire District
    • CalTrans



    PDS strives to process all permits efficiently to keep costs down and to work with the community and applicants to resolve issues. The cost and timeline for processing a Grading Permit may vary based on technical studies and the complexity of the review.

    The timelines for permit issuance can vary based on the number of iteration reviews, as well as various factors, such as the resubmittal times of applicants, and the overall complexity of the project review.


How Do I Submit an Improvement Plan?

To identify what type of permit is required for your project, visit our Building Services Land Development Counter at 5510 Overland Ave, San Diego, CA 92123, call us at (858) 694-2055 or visit our website.

This step is Optional:

Submit a request for an Initial Consultation meeting. This process is available to and recommended for applicants wanting input on requirements, design, and cost and time estimates before submittal.          

Complete all required forms, plans, documents, and studies as  required by the improvement plan application checklist. 

Identify the required fee/deposit required for the application.

Make an appointment to submit the complete application and initial deposit in-person at the Land Development counter, located at 5510 Overland Avenue. Or submit the complete application via email to

A PDS Land Development Engineer will be assigned to the project and will contact you once the review is complete.

Submittal Requirement's Introduction

The tables below indicate the deposits that must be submitted for a Centerline application (PDS-811).  Please review this information and complete and submit the submittal checklist and required documents listed below.

For in-person submittals, please bring the completed checklist, all completed forms and application materials, and a check for the correct amount Land Development Counter located at 5510 Overland Avenue, Suite 110 (First Floor).  Applications can be submitted Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Except County Holidays).

PDS is happy to assist you with any questions you may have on this process. Please call our Land Development Counter at (858) 694-2055 with any questions.

Part 1: Forms

Please complete a Centerline Application (PDS-811) form with all information completed. Please also complete an Application Deposit Acknowledgement and Agreement (PDS-126) form. A link to these forms is included in part 3.    

Part 2: Fee and Deposit Schedule

The deposit required for the Centerline Review application is shown below.  A copy of our complete fee ordinance can be found here.  

Application Type



Centerline Review Application 



Deposit accounts are charged based on the time staff spends reviewing the project.  Depending upon the staff time needed to review the project, an additional deposit may be required.

Part 3: Centerline Review Application Submittal Checklist

For an application to be accepted, the forms and documents listed in part one (forms) must be submitted along with the required deposit or fee listed in part 2 (fee and deposit schedule).  Please place a checkmark by each form being submitted and bring this page with you when you submit your application.  

    Type of application being submitted: _______________            

  • Land Development Application (PDS-811)
  • Fee/Deposit: ________________
  • Plot Plan (24'x36") with Proposed Frontage
  • Application Deposit Acknowledgement and Agreement (PDS-126)
  • USB Drive Containing PDF of each document listed in this checklist (PDS-839)