San Diego, CA, Municipal Code

Updated February 2020

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Table of Contents

Affordable Housing Programs

The city’s codified ordinances contain several affordable housing policies. Table 142-05D lists the reduced parking requirements for affordable housing units. Chapter 14, Article 2, Division 13 outlines the city’s inclusionary affordable housing regulations and sets guidelines for condominium conversions. Chapter 14, Article 3, Division 7 shares density bonuses and other incentives related to developing affordable housing units, which differ depending on the share of affordable units and the level of affordability. Chapter 14, Article 3, Division 8 protects affordable housing units in the Coastal Overlay Zone by requiring their replacement on a one-to-one basis in cases of conversion or demolition. Chapter 14, Article 3, Division 9 describes flexible development regulations for affordable housing, in-fill projects, and sustainable buildings.

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

The city code protects environmentally sensitive lands by regulating development on sites that contain or encroach into environmentally sensitive lands (§141.0101). It includes regulations for sensitive biological resources, steep hillsides, coastal beaches, sensitive coastal bluffs, and special flood hazard areas. Additional sections include information on procedures and regulations for project-specific land use plans, emergency permitting, allowed uses, and general development regulations. It concludes with regulations for specific area types (§143.0115 et seq.).

Food Systems | Food Trucks

The city’s zoning code includes a section outlining food truck permitting (§123.0601 et seq), covers permitted operating locations on both public and private property and outlines restrictions related to site set-up, lighting, and sound (§141.0612).

Historic Preservation

The city’s codified ordinances outline supplemental development regulations for historic resources (§143.0201-0280). Table 143-02A summarizes which historic resource regulations are applicable to different types of development proposals. Development incentives, including parking requirement reductions and density bonuses, are permitted if the project meets certain criteria and is approved by the Historical Resources Board.

Inclusionary Housing

The city addresses inclusionary housing in its General Regulations chapter of its municipal code (§142.1301 et seq.). Provisions apply to all residential development of two or more units. The code requires payment of an Inclusionary Affordable Housing Fee, or compliance by providing 10 percent affordable units to targeted income levels. For condominium conversion projects, the affordable housing fee is half the Inclusionary Affordable Housing Fee or compliance through providing 5 percent affordable units.

The code provides for variances or adjustments of inclusionary requirements. Affordable units require recorded covenants. The city’s housing commission is required to annually report on the program.

Additional details on requirements are provided in the city’s Development Services Department’s Information Bulletin 532, Requirements for Inclusionary Affordable Housing

Integrated Water Resource Managment

This division of the health and sanitation chapter of the city's municipal code (§43.0301 et seq.) restores and maintains the water quality of receiving waters and further ensures the health, safety and general welfare of the City by effectively prohibiting non–storm water discharges, including spills, dumping, and disposal of materials other than storm water to the MS4.

It aims to reduce pollutant discharge from the MS4 to receiving waters to the maximum extent practicable, in a manner pursuant to and consistent with the Clean Water Act and the MS4 permit.

Outdoor Lighting

The city updated its outdoor lighting regulations in 2012, which are located in the general regulations chapter of its municipal code (§142.0740). The regulation's intent is to minimize negative light pollution impacts, ensure public safety, and conserve energy, and apply to all new outdoor lighting fixtures.

General regulations address shields and flat lenses, light trespass, lighting color, hours of lighting, sensitive biological resource areas, and exemptions.

Solar Energy 

The city's land development regulations include a provision exempting solar energy systems from mechanical equipment screening provisions and allowing them in side and rear yards (§142.0905). For planned developments, if proposed structures or landscaping may impact solar access to adjacent properties, a shadow plan will be required to minimize potential impacts (§143.0410.i). The sections on planned district standards reiterate shadow plan requirements and require the maximum feasible energy conservation measures, including active and passive solar systems, to be utilized (§151.0301.b.6). For the Carmel Valley Planned District, an energy conservation provision requires buildings be oriented where possible to receive maximum active and passive solar access (§153.0402). In the Marina Planned District, a solar access provision limits midday sidewalk shading by developments (§1511.0302.c.11). And in the Mission Valley Planned District, a discretionary review design guideline on energy recommends using architecture, materials and site planning to minimize energy use and maximize solar energy use (§1514.0408.q.4).

Urban Livestock

The city code addresses the keeping of chickens in its health-regulated businesses and activities title (§42.0709.e). The code allows for the keeping of chickens on premises zoned or developed for a single dwelling unit or developed with a community garden or retail farm. Roosters are prohibited; the number of allowed chickens ranges from 5 to 25 based on setbacks from property lines. Standards address the design, construction, and size of coops and outdoor enclosures.

A handout from the development services department summarizes the city's chicken-keeping regulations.

Wildland-Urban Interface

The city’s codified ordinances address brush management and wildland-urban interface areas.

Its fire protection and prevention code contains extensive regulations pertaining to wildfire management (risk, hazards, reduction, prevention and mitigation (§55). The code discusses aspects such as adoption of the California Fire Code, requirements for WUI Fire Areas (§55.4901), hazardous materials, building construction and design, means of egress, etc. It also establishes Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zones, landscape regulations, open burning measures and prescribed fires (§55.0301 et seq.).

Its zoning code establishes citywide brush management zones (§142.0412). Provisions address width of brush management zones, brush management requirements by zone, and alternative compliance.

San Diego, CA

2010 Population: 1,307,402

2010 Population Density: 4,020.45/square mile