What Are Major Use Permits

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What is a Major Use Permit?

A major use permit is a discretionary permit used by the County of San Diego to approve or deny land uses for certain real estate zoning designations. A major use permit is required to apply for special land use accommodations or design requirements, operating characteristics, or potential adverse effects on surroundings. These permits are required for approval of most zoning variances.

Submitting a Major Use Permit in San Diego County

The Major Use Permit submittal typically includes a complete plot plan, architectural elevations, conceptual landscaping, grading plans, an environmental initial study, and a storm water management report among others. Here are the step-by-step requirements to submit a Major Use Permit:

  1. Schedule an Initial Consultation with the County Planning and Land Use Department to assess the viability and approximate costs of pursuing a Major Use Permit.

  2. If the project is viable, schedule and complete a Major Pre-Application conference by contacting the Zoning Office

  3. Review the Major Use Application Guide to determine which forms will be required with your permit. These forms cover specific use cases for environmental impacts, resource protection for sensitive lands, school districts, sewer and water services, fire services, plot plans, dimensions, etc.

  4. These documents will be reviewed by the County Community Planning Group and Design Review Board (if applicable). Following the review, a Scoping Letter sent by the San Diego Land Use Planner will be sent to the applicant within 30 days of application submission.

  5. If the project is a violation, plans must have a Code Compliance Officer’s stamp before accepting the application.

  6. Once all project issues and requirements are resolved, a public hearing is advertised and held for all property owners within 300 feet of the project site.

Major Use Permit Costs

Fees for Major Use Permits can extend into the tens of thousands of dollars depending on project scope. Initial deposit for the standard application begins at $15,000 before additional fees are calculated. These fees are adjusted based on the level of complexity and controversy for the project. The standard application with costs laid out can be found here. The County of San Diego also provides a discretionary permit cost guide that can be downloaded as an excel spreadsheet here. This will help you calculate the expected fees to be added to the initial deposit. You can also contact the PDS Zoning Counter at:

5510 Overland Avenue, Suites 110 & 310, San Diego, CA 92123 or by calling (858) 694-2960, or toll-free (800) 411-0017

A plot plan, map, resource protection study and storm water management form and other documents must be saved as a PDF to a flash drive. All documents must also be printed with all required signatures. The applicant also is responsible for posting all notices ten days of payment of the application fees.

Contacting the Planning and Development Office for Major Use Permits

Office Location and Hours:

5510 Overland Avenue, Suite 110 (First Floor), San Diego, CA 92123

Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Except County Holidays).

To leave a message, call zoning Information (858) 694-8985

Need Major Use Permit Assistance?

If you are not familiar with submitting Major Use Permits, it’s best to work with an experienced professional. Contact the Red Hawk Realty team to get help with major use permits. We specialize in land for sale, ag loans and real estate consulting.

Call today.