Building inspector wears mask and gloves
A San Diego building inspector is on the job but wearing a mask and gloves amid the pandemic. Courtesy City of San Diego

Starting May 4, the San Diego Development Services Department will start accepting permits online for all new projects, expanding the existing digital permitting process that is currently available for a limited number of permits.

According to the city, the conversion to a fully cloud-based permitting system is scheduled to begin later this year. In the meantime, electronic plan submittal has been expedited — including the ability to review project status and comments to help meet safety protocols for customers and employees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online access was previously limited to projects that did not require plan review, including simple mechanical, electrical and plumbing permits, right-of-way permits and residential solar photovoltaic projects.

The move to electronic plan submittal is part of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s attempt to make city operations more effective using data to improve transparency and performance.

“This move to fully embrace online permitting is needed now more than ever as our builders navigate their way through a global health pandemic,” Faulconer said. “We still face a major statewide housing crisis that will only get worse if construction slows down, so we’re trying to make it easier to get shovels in the ground. This change also keeps residents and employees safe during COVID-19 and beyond by eliminating the need to exchange thousands of paper documents in person.”

While accepting applications electronically, the department will continue regulating land use and building development for up to 50,000 approvals annually.

The changes mean that after it’s permissible for the department to reopen its doors to the public, development services department customers will no longer need to travel downtown to the Development Services Center to drop off paper plan sets. In theory, the difficulties of finding and paying for parking will be eliminated, as the submittal and issuance process can now all be performed with online customer interactions.

Available by visiting the most frequently used services section at, customers can check the real-time status of applications on Open DSD, see plan review comments, confirm development process timelines and receive official stamped electronic approvals on plan sets.

–City News Service