New state energy efficiency standards coming January 1, 2017

As California’s zero net energy goals approach, a new set of state energy efficiency standards will take effect at the beginning of 2017.

In line with other state code updates, the 2016 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards will apply to building projects formally submitted to Planning & Development Services (PDS) on or after January 1, 2017, as the state strives to meet a goal of zero net energy in all new residential construction by 2020 and in all new commercial buildings by 2030.

The tightened standards include:

  • Measures reducing exposure of mechanical ducts to extreme heat or cold in attics
  • Increased wall insulation
  • Mandatory high-efficacy lighting
  • Improved water heater efficiency and/or pipe insulation

Complete information on the current and upcoming Building Energy Efficiency Standards – including FAQs – is available at the California Energy Commission website.

Water Conservation Landscape Ordinance and Tiered Winery Ordinance Adopted

On April 27, 2016, the Board of Supervisors (Board) adopted County regulatory code amendments to the Water Conservation in Landscape Ordinance.  On April 1, 2015, the Governor issued Executive Order B-29-15 in response to the severe drought conditions across the state.  The executive order directed the California Department of Water Resources to update the state’s model ordinance.  The model ordinance established a regulatory framework to increase water efficiency standards for landscape projects.  The amendments to the County Water Conservation in Landscaping Ordinance addressed the recent updates to the model ordinance.  The amendments will ensure that the County’s ordinance is as effective as the model ordinance, while increasing water conservation efforts in conjunction with landscape projects. 

The Board also approved zoning ordinance amendments to the Tiered Winery Ordinance. A primary component of the ordinance was the creation of a boutique winery tier, which allowed for tasting rooms in conjunction with ongoing agricultural vineyard operations. The ordinance amendments resolve discrepancies with existing ordinance language. The amendments do not change the purpose or intent of the ordinance, but eliminate ambiguity in the requirements for different winery types.

For additional information or questions please contact Joseph Farace at 858-694-3690 or

Urban Land Institute (ULI) Healthy Places Competition

Over the past several months, the County of San Diego has partnered with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in coordinating a student design and development competition to allow multidisciplinary teams of college students from various local universities in San Diego to “compete” in designing a planning site within San Diego County.  The Buena Creek Sprinter Station, located in the unincorporated County, was selected as the site for the design and development contest.   

The primary objective of this competition was to give students real-world experience in creating a land use plan and development proposal for a site in San Diego County.  The winning entry will be the plan and proposal that best demonstrates the principles of building healthy places and improving public health, while being economically feasible and aesthetically pleasing.   The County of San Diego’s Live Well San Diego - Thriving strategy, along with the ULI Healthy Places Toolkit, were used in creating the judging criteria for the student competition.  Mark Wardlaw, Director of PDS, is serving as a judge on the panel, along with representatives from other partnering organizations including the ULI, North County Transit District, and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). 

The final Healthy Places Student Competition Award winner will be announced at the upcoming ULI Healthy Places Awards Gala on the evening of May 11.  For more information or to register for the event, please visit here.

For more information about the County of San Diego’s Live Well San Diego - Thriving strategy, please visit here.

Community Planning and Sponsor Groups Update

On April 16, 2016, PDS staff met with the Chairpersons and several other members of Community Planning and Sponsor Groups.  The groups heard presentations about the Climate Action Plan, Active Transportation Plan, reimbursements, and the Park Lands Dedication Ordinance.  PDS aims to have these meetings at least twice a year to receive input and share information with the Community Planning and Sponsor Groups on a number of topics.

May is Bike Month


May is Bike Month in San Diego County!  The County of San Diego will participate in the region’s Bike to Work Day activities on Friday, May 20 by hosting two pit stops for County employees and riders to other destinations.

The pit stops will be located at the County Administration Center (1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego) and the County Operations Center (5500 Overland Avenue, San Diego).

Visit the iCommuteSD maps for additional pit stop locations and website for more information on how to participate. See you on the road!

Welcome Aboard!

maryMary Kopaskie

Chief, Departmental Operations – Advance Planning Division

Mary joins our team with nearly 30 years of progressive planning experience working in the public and private sectors, including extensive experience working with numerous comprehensive planning projects, parks and recreation master plans, and land use regulations for communities of all sizes. She has been working abroad in the public sector for the past 11 years as a Planning Manager and was most recently employed by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council managing a staff of 50 professionals. In this role, she was responsible for overseeing key strategic projects, such as Plan Capital 2030, Seychelles Strategic Plan, and the North Wathba Master Plan.  In the U.S., she worked as a Principal Planner for a private consulting firm for 14 years and managed projects such as the City of Buffalo Comprehensive Plan, City of Rochester Zoning and Design Standards, and Waterfront and Recreation planning.

In addition to her professional experience, Mary has a Master of Urban Planning from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a bachelor’s degree in Geography from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.


kimKimberlie Dodson

Chief, Departmental Operations – Support Services Division

Kim has been with the County for more than five years, working previously at the Health & Human Services Agency with Community Strategies and Initiatives then as a contract analyst before joining PDS to oversee contract administration and facilities functions. She most recently served as Interim Chief of the Support Services Division, overseeing budget and fiscal support, performance improvement team and information technology, geographic information systems, and administrative services.

Her professional experience outside of the County includes roles such as Individual & Leadership Giving Director with the United Way of Lake County, State Executive Director with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Louisiana, and Marketing & Development Director with Girl Scouts of Racine County. Through these various leadership roles, Kim gained significant experience in strategic planning, project management, fund development, and community relations.

In addition to her professional experience, Kim has a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University and a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Management from Concordia University.

We are excited to have Mary and Kim join our leadership team!

Did You Know?

toadThe arroyo toad is a stocky, blunt-nosed species of toad, 2-3 inches long with horizontal pupils and is greenish, grey or salmon in color with a light-colored stripe across the head and eyelids.  It is currently classified as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species due to habitat destruction.  The arroyo toad prefers sandy or cobbly washes with swift currents and associated upland and riparian habitats, in Southern California from Santa Barbara County south into northwestern Baja California.  An arroyo, in the desert called a wash, is a predominantly dry creek or river bed.  It fills and flows after sufficient rain, but only temporarily during specific seasons.  The arroyo toad inhabits these areas alongside creeks and rivers with shallow pebble-like rocks near sandy terrains.  The arroyo toad is nocturnal, spending most of the day underground.  During the dry season the arroyo toad goes into a state of hibernation called aestivation to prevent dehydration.  This dormant state normally takes place within the soil or clay-like sand and is from August to January.

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