City of San Diego speeds up process for interior office tenant improvement projects

Same day permits available as part of service improvements
for Development Services department

SAN DIEGO – Design professionals can now receive same-day building permits for interior office tenant improvement projects, all thanks to the new Professional Certification Office Tenant Improvement Program.

The Development Services Department (DSD) launched the program on Friday, Sept. 1, as part of the department’s continued effort to reduce the city’s permit processing times. The initiative applies to projects that meet certain criteria, with no-plan review required for qualified projects up to 20,000 square feet that are designed by a licensed California architect or engineer.

“One of the initiatives I’ve championed is taking a hard look at where our processes and requirements needlessly burden San Diegans as they try to make improvements to their homes and businesses – then cutting that red tape,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “This will allow city staff to focus on plans that require a higher level of attention and reduce wait times throughout the system.”

Design professionals will be allowed to bypass plan review by certifying that the proposed design meets all codes and standards. As a result, building permits for an interior office tenant improvement project can be issued on the same day. Projects that qualify include existing commercial office buildings that are not proposing changes to plumbing fixtures, windows and door openings, stairways, use or occupancy. Customers will be able to submit professionally certified office tenant improvement applications, upload plans and specifications and receive a permit through DSD’s online permitting portal.

“The city understands that getting minor office improvements permitted and completed quickly to provide short lead times for new tenants is critical to the success of both the property owner and business owner,” said DSD Director Elyse W. Lowe. “The city will be able to fast track the permitting when design professionals certify their plans meet the building code and safety standards – but as always, the city will inspect the improvements for building safety once the construction work occurs.”

The new program falls within Mayor Gloria’s strategy to cut down DSD permitting times, which includes an initiative to modernize all DSD workplace systems, leverage technology and put more functions online. In addition, the Mayor in January signed an executive order to speed up processing times for affordable housing, reducing the review period from about six months to 30 days.

In the past two months, DSD expanded its No-Plan Building Permit program to include applications for kitchen and bathroom remodels as well as door and window replacements. A new residential solar instant permitting process allows customers to receive same day permits on installation plans that comply with building codes, standards and ordinances.

Customers interested in applying for an office tenant improvement permit will be required to schedule an online appointment with DSD staff after the application. Visit DSD’s webpage at, watch the DSD customer webinar, or make a virtual appointment to learn more.

(City of San Diego Release)

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