Discretionary Permits

Some projects will have a scope that will trigger a discretionary entitlement (project) prior to applying for a building permit.  Below are some guidelines regarding these permits, but we recommend you check with our Planning Staff to confirm the applicable permits required based on the scope of work of the project prior to officially submitting a project application. (See SBMC 17.68 for more specific information).

Use Permits (CUP and DUP)

It is the purpose of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to provide for the review of certain types of uses which because of their unique site or design requirements, operating characteristics or potential adverse effects, require special consideration to assure compatibility with the surrounding area. The conditional use permit process is intended to afford an opportunity for public review and evaluation of such uses, to provide adequate mitigation of any potentially adverse impacts, and to ensure that the development regulations of this title are met. 

Uses which require a CUP are indicated in SBMC 17.12.020 (Use Regulations Matrix) Table 17.12.020-A.  "C" in this section indicates that the use is subject to a Director's Use Permit (DUP) issued by the Director of Community Development.

Bluff Retention Device Instructions and Application

Wireless Communication Policy

Development Review Permit (DRP)

It is the purpose and intent of the DRP to provide for the review of certain classes of development projects which due to their scale, proximity to environmentally sensitive resource areas, or unique design features as permitted by a zone or specific plan, require special discretionary consideration to ensure consistency with the general plan and the intent of the zone in which the property is located. The regulations outlined in SMBC 17.68.040 are intended to encourage site and structural development which:

  1. Respects the physical and environmental characteristics of the site,
  2. Ensures safe and convenient access and circulation for pedestrians and vehicles, and
  3. Exemplifies the best professional design practices.

It is further the intent of this section to eliminate confusion and processing burdens by the consolidation of all overlay zone and special district requirements into a single permit process.

Structure Development Permit (SDP) | View Assessment Process

All new construction exceeding 16 feet in height from pre-existing grade must obtain approval of a Structure Development Permit and go through the View Assessment process prior to proceeding with a building permit. Please see page 5 of the General Project Application for submittal requirements.  Click here to review the relevant code section: SBMC 17.63.040.

Printable View Assessment and SDP Forms:

Minor Exception (ME)

Only the following development regulations shall qualify for a minor exception:

  • Fence Height. In any zone the director may allow an increase to the maximum height of any fence, wall, retaining wall or equivalent screening by a maximum of two feet, where the topography of sloping sites or a difference in grade between adjoining sites warrants such increase in height to maintain a level of privacy, or to maintain effective screening.
  • Parking Design Standards. In any zone, the director may waive or modify one or more of the parking design standards set forth in SBMC 17.52.030 where practical difficulties make their strict application infeasible, and upon a finding that the waiver or modification is consistent with the purpose and intent of the City of Solana Beach Offstreet Parking Design Manual and Chapter 17.52 SBMC.

More than one minor exception for any parcel shall constitute a variance and shall be reviewed in accordance with SBMC 17.68.020 (Variances).

An application for a minor exception shall be filed with the department of community development on a form provided by the department. The application shall contain sufficient information to permit review pursuant to this section. 

Notification. The director shall notify the applicant and all property owners within 300 feet of the subject site for floor area minor exceptions (inclusive of public rights-of-way) and within 50 feet of the subject site for fence height, setbacks or parking design standard minor exceptions (exclusive of public rights-of-way) by mail 20 days prior to the director’s decision. Said notice shall state the following:

  • Requested action;
  • Location of the requested action;
  • Name and address (parcel and lot number) of the applicant;
  • Date which a decision will be made on application.

Before granting a minor exception, the director of community development shall make all of the following findings:

  • That strict or literal interpretation and enforcement of the specified regulation would result in practical difficulty or unnecessary physical hardship inconsistent with the objectives of the general plan and intent of this title.
  • That the granting of the minor exception will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, welfare, or materially injurious to properties or improvements in the vicinity.

Decisions on minor exception applications may be appealed by the applicant or other aggrieved party to the city council in accordance with SBMC 17.72.070 (Appeals). (Ord. 357 § 6, 2007; Ord. 185 § 2, 1993)

Temporary Use Permit (TUP)

The purpose of the TUP process is to control and regulate land use activities of a temporary nature which may adversely affect the public health, safety, and welfare. The intent is to ensure that temporary uses will be compatible with surrounding land uses, to protect the rights of adjacent residences and land owners, and to minimize any adverse effects on surrounding properties and the environment.

For a full description of the various TUP's allowed, please reference SBMC 17.60.010.

Variance (VAR)

The purpose of a variance is to provide flexibility from the strict application of development standards where special circumstances pertaining to a property would otherwise deprive such property of privileges enjoyed by other properties in the vicinity and in the same zone. Please contact the Planning Department to discuss your Variance request. For more information, please reference SBMC 17.68.020.


New Project/Discretionary Permit Application Process

General Project Application

Project Extension Application

Bluff Retention Device Application – Conditional Use Permit

Step 1: Application Submittal & Plan Review

If you are planning a commercial project, please contact the Planning Department to discuss the permit process. 

If you are planning a residential project, start by completing the Residential Development Worksheet and review the permit types below or call our Planning Staff to determine the applicable permits for your scope of work. 

Then please send a completed general project application and project plans electronically to Planning staff will provide an invoice and schedule an appointment for an official hard copy submittal. Please see page 5 of the general project application for all submittal requirements, incomplete applications will not be accepted.

For projects including landscape work, please consult our Landscape Manual and fill out the landscape table shown on page 7 of the general project application to determine if a landscape package and the associated deposit will be required.

Step 2: 30-Day Plan Review

Once all submittal requirements have been submitted to the Planning Department, the project will be assigned to a project planner and the first 30-day review period will begin. The project will be reviewed by the Planning, Engineering, and Fire Departments. If a landscape package is required, the project will also be reviewed by the City’s Third Party Landscape Consultant.

Step 3: City Council Approval

Each submittal/resubmittal will go through a 30-day review period. Once all departments have approved, the project will be scheduled for the next available council meeting. If the project requires a Structure Development Permit, please refer to the View Assessment Process.

Step 4: Building Permit Submittal

Once the project receives City Council Approval, the applicant may:

  • Proceed with the building permit submittal process; and
  • Submit to the California Coastal Commission (CCC) for approval.  The entire jurisdiction of Solana Beach is within the Coastal Zone so all building permit applications must be reviewed and approved by the California Coastal Commission prior to the issuance of the building permit. The City of Solana Beach does not process CCC approvals internally. 


Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

If you want to build an ADU, please review the current Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations and ADU Submittal Process and Basic Plan Requirements