Do I need a building permit and how do I get it?
The answer to this question depends on the type of project. Del Mar has four categories of projects and each category has different permitting requirements. The following is a brief description of the categories and their requirements.
1. Almost all new structures and additions to existing structures require some type of approval before moving forward with building permits. Most projects require design review, a process that is described below. Other projects, due to their location in a special overlay zone or their inconsistency with zoning regulations, may also require a conditional use permit or variance reviewed by the City’s Planning Commission at a noticed hearing. In some instances, the required design review can be performed at a staff level, with notice to nearby property owners.
In most cases, however, the design review occurs at a public hearing before the City’s Design Review Board (DRB). After going through the design review approval process, construction drawings can be submitted to the Building Department and the project will undergo a plan check prior to the issuance of building permits. EsGil Corporation, which is under contract with the City to provide traditional building department services, requires an authorization form from the Planning Department requesting that the Building Department perform a plan check. The form is then taken to the Building Counter at the City of Solana Beach, EsGil accepts and processes permits from this location for the City of Del Mar.
City of Solana Beach Building Services
Monday-Thursday 1:30 to 5:30pm and *Friday 1:30 to 5pm
*Closed alternating Fridays (e.g., In 2014, closed January 10, January 24, and so on)
Solana Beach Building Permit Counter: 858-720-4450
635 S. Highway 101 Solana Beach, CA 92075
2. Tenant improvements/Over the counter plan check: It is common for property owners or their representatives to propose improvements that require building permits, but that do not require DRB review. Such improvements would not modify the existing size of the structure and would typically not modify the exterior of the building. These projects usually involve only interior changes. Even though no design review is required, interior modifications may require a building permit.
The first step to determine whether your project fits into this category is to determine what zoning regulations apply to your property. This is important because some zones, such as the Central Commercial Zone and Bluff, Slope, and Canyon Overlay Zone require design review for even minor exterior changes such as a change in color or materials.
The City will review the plans to determine whether the existing structure is non-conforming and/or whether the proposed improvements require design review. If structural nonconformities exist, you must submit a Building Valuation Form to ensure that the extent of work being done will be below the 50 percent threshold at which time abatement (removal) of the non-conformities would be required. If design review is not required, four sets of plans should be provided. Staff then prepares an Authorization Form that authorizes EsGil to issue building permits. Staff will stamp and sign all sets. The City will return one set to you with the Authorization Form, and file the 2nd set in the Planning Dept. “street file” along with a copy of the Authorization Form and the Building Valuation (if necessary).
3. Roof Permits: A roof repair or roof replacement requires a Building Permit. If the work complies with DMMC Section 23.12.060, the Planning Department will provided you with a Letter of Authorization. You can then take the plans and authorization letter directly to the Building Department counter located at Solana Beach City Hall, 635 S. Highway 101, and pull the required permits. All roof coverings must be Class A compliant, fire retardant, non-wood material. If new roof elements, such as a modified roofline, are proposed, they most likely require design review.
4. Minor Building Permits: EsGil issues authorizations such as permits for miscellaneous electric, relocation/change of service, water heater/softener, sprinklers, plumbing, re-roofing, or interior remodeling. These permits are issued at the Building Dept. by the EsGil Corporation (see #3 above) with a Letter of Authorization, provided that there is no change in use, expansion of structure, or change in appearance. A Building Permit is also required to repave/restripe a non-residential parking area.
How long does the permit process take?
The processing of a development permit in the City of Del Mar can be broken down into two distinct phases: 1) City discretionary approval(s), which include Design Review, Planning Commission and/or City Council review; and, 2) post approval reviews and plan check/permitting.
City Discretionary Approvals: The processing time from application submittal to final approval for a discretionary permit is a minimum of about two months, but it can be longer, depending on the type of application submitted. A project that requires multiple discretionary actions will take longer.
Once the Planning Commission or DRB approves the project there is a 10 working-day right to appeal the action to the City Council. Once the appeal period is over, the remainder of the processing time depends on the applicant.
Post Approval Reviews and Plan Check/Permitting: The processing time of this phase depends on the complexity of the project and the types of conditions that were placed on the approval of the project. These conditions may take some time to complete. The Plan Check approval can be time consuming, but careful planning and organization of these tasks by the applicant can significantly minimize the processing time.
How many sets of plans do I need for Planning Commission/ Design Review Board/ City Council?
As of September 1, 2013, all development application materials must be submitted to the City in digital format (PDF) in addition to paper sets as described below:
Announcement on requirements for digital submittals
- Four plan sets are required for Administrative Design Review.
- Three plan sets with initial application and seven plan sets prior to Planning Commission meeting.
- Three plan sets with initial application and eight plan sets prior to Design Review Board meeting.
- Three plan sets with initial application and seven plan sets prior to City Council meeting.
How can I get an exception to development standards?
The process to get an exception is called a variance, which is issued only if the Planning Commission finds that some special circumstances associated with the property warrant approval of the requested variance from the standards.
Remember that current zoning requirements of the City may apply to your project or property but not to others. For instance, your neighbors’ homes may have been built many years ago under different zoning requirements. Their “non-conforming” improvements may be allowed to stay if they were constructed when different development standards were in place. In the event your neighbors undergo a significant redevelopment of their properties. They will also have to comply with current zoning standards.
How do I determine the exact location of my property line?
Generally, in the City of Del Mar, the curb or edge of the street does not correspond to the adjacent private property boundary line. In most cases, the public streets in Del Mar were not constructed as wide as their dedicated rights-of-way. This means that there is usually some amount of public land between the edge of the street paving and the adjacent private property. Unfortunately, the City does not have a precise map that depicts the edge of the public rights-of-way around town, therefore only approximate locations can be given. The only way to be certain of your property’s boundary lines is to hire a licensed surveyor to perform a boundary survey.
The City can research its GIS system and files for information that may have been submitted as part of a past development application, such as an old survey or site plan. We can also check to see if there have been any public improvement plans developed for the right-of-way in the immediate vicinity of your property. With this type of information, we can possibly help you locate the approximate location of your property line, but again, only a surveyor can tell you for sure where it is.
Do I need a permit to move a gas line or power line?
Yes, a permit from the City of Del Mar Building Department is required prior to relocating a gas or electrical line. However, first you must contact San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and obtain a work order from a SDG&E planner. Then visit the Planning Counter at Del Mar City Hall with the work order in hand. A City Planner will then ask you a few necessary questions and help you fill out the proper Letter of Authorization forms in order for the Building Department to accept and process your request for plumbing (gas) or electrical (power) permit. Please note that a City Encroachment Permit will also be required if any of the work would be located in the public right-of-way.
How do I schedule a building inspection?
EsGil Corporation, on behalf of the City of Del Mar, conducts building inspections. To schedule an inspection, please contact them at (858) 720-4451.