San Diego County Zoning, Planning and Development

Land use is one of the major components in real estate; yet, many realtors and homeowners have no idea what it entails.  A class I took recently gave me some insight into this complex topic.  The instructor delved into the history and other aspects that I won’t bore you with…. However, I’d like to give you a few definitions and the resources to do your own research into zoning, building codes and other land development topics in San Diego County.

  • Planning –  is the systematic assessment of land and water potential, alternatives for land use, and economic and social conditions in order to select and adopt the best land-use options… it is general to county then cities will have further restrictions called overlays.
  • Zoning – what you can build on that piece of land/property
  • Building code – how to build it… specifications, building and safety codes

San Diego County General Plan – a framework for future growth and development of the unincorporated areas of the County and balances the need for adequate infrastructure, housing, and economic vitality, while maintaining and preserving each unique community within the County, agricultural areas, and extensive open space.

San Diego County Land Use Element – Provides a framework to accommodate future development in an efficient and sustainable manner that is compatible with the character of unincorporated communities and the protection of valuable and sensitive natural resources.

Oh, San Diego County has incorporated cities listed below and too many unincorporated areas to list here… let me know if you’d like to have the unincorporated areas list.

The incorporated cities are San Diego plus Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas (included Cardiff by the Sea), Escondido, Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside, Poway, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista.

Resources – Websites

Check these sites out for planning, building and zoning for San Diego County, City of San Diego (101 communities like La Jolla, Rancho Bernardo etc), and a few of the incorporated cities:

San Diego County for unincorporated areas of the county:

City of San Diego Development Services

Carlsbad –

Del Mar

Encinitas –

Oceanside –

Solana Beach

Rancho Santa Fe –  is unique because the community of Rancho Santa Fe Covenant is required to submit plans to the County and to the Rancho Santa Fe Art Jury for approval.

I hope this information has been helpful….. I'm available if you have any questions or wish further information.

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