The County of San Diego Department of Planning & Development Services (PDS) recognizes certain commercial businesses must quickly change their operations to comply with the current Center for Disease Control (CDC), state, and/ or local guidelines or health orders.  To allow these changes to occur quickly and to reduce impacts to existing businesses, PDS will be flexible in enforcing zoning ordinance requirements during this time as long as the changes are temporary and meet the requirements listed below.  We highly suggest customers inquire with PDS before making any adjustments to operations and before investing in these changes.

  1. Temporary changes allowed – The following temporary changes to existing commercial businesses are allowed by these criteria.  Note: All changes must be temporary and be easily converted back their original condition or removed after the expiration of this enforcement flexibility (Please see section 7 below):

a. Changes to seating area layouts, both indoor and outdoor.  

b. Parking lot layout changes designed to require as little restriping as possible and that comply with all California Building Code and fire district requirements. 

c. Reduction in the number of parking spaces where it can be shown the reduction is both the least amount necessary, and it can be shown that the reduction still provides an adequate amount of parking spaces for all uses on the property or within the shopping center. Changes to any disabled access parking stalls, access aisles, and accessible routes shall be in compliance with the California Building Code.

d. New or modified signage advertising and/or notifying customers of social distancing requirements, grand re-opening signs, and delivery/pick up notification signs are allowed as long as the size and location of all signage comply with the on-premise and off-premise signage requirements outlined in section 6200 and 6250 of the Zoning Ordinance. 

e. Establishment of temporary outdoor customer drop off and pick up parking and loading areas on private property.

f. Other changes not listed above will be considered by PDS on a case by case bases when they are temporary in nature and required to comply with federal, state, and/or local guidelines or health orders.  Please email Michael Johnson at michael.johnson1@sdcounty.ca.gov to discuss any change not explicitly mentioned within these criteria. 

2. Temporary road closures and modifications within the County right of way – Temporary road closures and temporary modifications within a county maintained right of may will be considered subject to the following criteria: 

a. The request does not create a traffic or safety concern.

b. For requests to close a road, the proposal must be at least a blockwide, and alternate detour access must be available. These proposals will be reviewed for approval by the Department of Public Works and will require a revocable encroachment permit and a temporary traffic control plan. 

c. To start this process or to discuss any questions, please call our Land Development Counter at (858) 694-2055, and County staff will work with you to find an acceptable design and provide the application material. 

d. Note: Some roads may require approval from Caltrans for any encroachment. 

3. Flexibility in zoning regulation enforcement - When making changes listed in part 1 above, PDS will be flexible with enforcing the following San Diego County zoning regulations, as long as it can be shown that the changes being requested comply with the criteria within this document:

a. Parcels subject to special area designators (Section 5000 of the Zoning Ordinance) – Temporary changes that comply with these criteria are not required to obtain recommendations from local Community Planning Groups, Design Review Board, or other similar advisory boards.

b. Discretionary permit compliance (Section 7000 of the Zoning Ordinance) – Temporary changes described within these criteria do not need to comply with approved plans and conditions of discretionary permits as long as it can be shown that the changes are necessary.  This includes Site Plans, Minor Use Permits, and Major Use Permits.

c. Outdoor café size limitations (Section 6158 of the Zoning Ordinance) – As long as seating changes do not increase the permitted seating capacity of the existing eating and drinking establishment, temporary changes to outdoor seating areas do not need to comply with the size requirements of Section 6158.a as it relates to the square footage/size of the outdoor seating area.

d. Enclosure regulations (Section 6800 of the Zoning Ordinance) – Temporary changes required to allow for outdoor customer pick up or drop off areas do not need to comply with the enclosure regulations, which would require that these areas be inside an enclosed building.

e. Temporary changes that comply with the criteria in this document, but that do not comply with other sections of the zoning ordinance not listed will be considered on a case by case bases by PDS. 

4. Department of Environmental Health and Quality (DEHQ) – For restaurants that wish to reopen, please ensure compliance with all applicable regulations:

a. All food storage and food preparation areas must remain indoors in a temperature-controlled area.

b. For more information or if you have further questions, please contact the Food and Housing, Specialist on Duty at (858) 505-6900 or by email fhdutyeh@sdcounty.ca.gov 

5. Changes not covered by these criteria – The following changes must comply with all current regulations:

a. Any change not described above.

b. Any business that is subject to an ongoing Code Compliance case unless prior arrangements have been agreed to by your Code Compliance Officer.

c. Changes that do not comply with other permits that have been issued by the County of San Diego or other local, State, or Federal agency.

d. Changes that create a health or safety issue.

e. Changes that encroach into a required setback, easement, or a floodplain/ floodway.

6. Things to consider when making temporary changes – When making these changes, please consider the following:

a. Changes cannot result in the alteration or blockage of an egress path of travel or means of egress from any building.

b. Owners are responsible for ensuring that all changes comply with accessibility/ADA requirements.  Owners may hire a qualified professional, such as a Certified Access Specialist (CASp), to review conformance to ADA requirements for any changes made.

c. Prior to adding any temporary structure, such as a canopy or shade structure, please check with the Building Division and Fire District.  Depending upon the size and design, a permit may be required, and there may be requirements that the temporary structure will need to meet.

d. Businesses located in the unincorporated areas of the County served by San Diego County Fire Authority may be subject to permit requirements for temporary structures; i.e. tents, canopies, etc. For more information, please contact David Sibbet at  David.Sibbet@sdcounty.ca.gov

e. Please obtain property owner approval prior to making any changes.

7. Timeline:

a. These criteria apply aslong as it can be shown that businesses must modify their operations to comply with social distancing requirements imposed b Federal, State or Local guidelines. 

b. Once these criteria expire, PDS will allow a reasonable amount of time to restore the property to its original condition to comply with all applicable requirements.  In most circumstances, this timeline will be 2-3 weeks.

c. PDS will revisit these criteria at least once every three months to determine if changes are needed. 

Notice: The County of San Diego, through its enforcement powers, may deem a business modification or request for modification to not meet current County health orders or a threat to health and safety, and the County reserves the right to enforce any County ordinances, codes, or laws.  If a business has made modifications and the County disagrees the modifications meet this criteria or pose a risk to health and safety, the County may notify the business owner to return those modifications back to normal operating conditions, or a condition satisfying this criteria.