Community & Project Assistance Center

The Community & Project Assistance Center is responsible for front counter activity, responding to inquiries regarding land use and zoning issues, plan check services for Planning, implementation of the Citizen Participation Program, and coordinating customer issues between the development services departments. This division administers the Green Building Incentive and Mills Act Programs, and accepts and processes Heritage Tree Nominations. The Community and Project Assistance Center also manages the Planning and Building Department budget, including monitoring development activity levels and maintaining adequate staffing levels that correspond appropriately to the level of activity.

Affordable Unit Policy

The City recognizes that many unpermitted units provide affordable housing that may not otherwise be available. As such, the Affordable Unit Policy (AUP) was adopted by the City Council as a quid pro quo – in exchange for waivers of certain zoning standards and legalization of the unit, the space must be brought into compliance with current building and fire codes and be rent restricted. The City Council established Interim Policy provisions in November 2014 to encourage more participation in the program. On December 16, 2015, the City Council extended the Interim Provisions of the Affordable Unit Policy (AUP) program for six months and again extended the provisions for one year on May 18, 2016. The interim provisions will remain in effect until June 16, 2017. For more information on the AUP, refer to the FAQ and the AUP application.

Green Building Incentive Program

The City of Encinitas Green Building Incentive Program provides financial incentive, priority plan check, and City Council recognition for projects that register and achieve certification with Build It Green (BIG) GreenPoint Rated and/or US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ®. Once registered with the City’s program, all plan checks for construction-related permits will receive priority in the City’s plan check process. On completion of the project and certification by BIG or LEED®, the project will be eligible for reimbursement for the costs of providing green building measures to achieve final certification up to a maximum of $2,000 per project. Additionally, certified projects will be recognized at a City Council meeting.

Mills Act Program

The City’s Mills Act Program is an incentive-based strategy that provides the opportunity for a voluntary agreement between the City and the owner of historic property. The agreement would provide for reduced property taxes on eligible historic property if the property owner agrees to maintain and preserve the property for a minimum of ten years. Any property over fifty years old seeking tax relief under the Mills Act must demonstrate eligibility through a site-specific historic survey and be placed on an official registry of historic places (National, State, or local). The Mills Act Program serves as an incentive to owners of historic properties to preserve and maintain the historic property for the benefit of the entire community. The Mills Act Program is authorized in State law (G.C. 50280, et seq.).

Heritage Tree Nominations

Planning Commission may designate a tree as a Heritage Tree upon finding that the tree is unique and of importance to the community due to any of the following factors (UFMP Administrative Procedures Manual Section 9.00):

  1. The tree(s) is/are one of the oldest and largest of its species.
  2. The tree(s) is/are of unique form or species.
  3. The tree(s) has/have historic significance due to an association with an historic building, site, street, person or event.
  4. The tree(s) is/are a defining landmark or significant outstanding feature of a neighborhood.

For a tree(s) to be considered for designation as a Heritage Tree, a nomination form must be submitted to the Planning & Building Department. The tree(s) will be inspected by staff to make sure all designation criteria are met. The nomination request along with the results of staff’s inspection will be forwarded to the Environmental Commission for evaluation. If the nomination is approved by the Environmental Commission, the nomination will be forwarded to the Planning Commission for final approval.

Proposition A

To learn more about how Proposition A impacts land development applications, consult the Proposition A FAQ sheet.           

Urban Agriculture

The City recently adopted an Urban Agriculture Ordinance that allows for small-scale urban agriculture activities and creates a simplified and affordable regulatory process for those interested in pursuing urban agriculture activities in the City of Encinitas. For further information, refer to the Urban Agriculture FAQ and Agriculture Permit Application.

Plans, Codes, and Guidelines

The following plans, portions of the Municipal Code, and official guidelines regulate and provide guidance for development and development review by the Planning and Building Department:


Bikeway Master Plan
Cardiff-by-the-Sea Specific Plan
General Plan
General Plan Land Use Policy Map
Downtown Encinitas Specific Plan
Encinitas Ranch Specific Plan
Home Depot Specific Plan
North 101 Corridor Specific Plan
Post-Local Coastal Program Certification Permit and Appeal Jurisdiction Map
Recreational Trails Master Plan

Municipal Code

Chapter 9.70: Wireless Communication Facilities
Chapter 23.06: Citizen Participation Plans
Chapter 23.08: Design Review
Chapter 23.26: Water Efficient Landscape Regulations
Title 24: Subdivisions
Title 30: Zoning Code


Design Review Guidelines
Offstreet Parking Design Manual
Urban Forest Management Program Administrative Procedures Manual

Mediation Program

To allow for additional methods for dispute resolution, the City Council recently approved a voluntary mediation program for general dispute cases and land use/development cases for a one-year period with National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) to provide the mediation services. Mediation is the confidential meeting between people who have a disagreement, and a trained, neutral mediator who guides a discussion of issues toward a mutually acceptable agreement.

For more information on the City’s Voluntary Mediation Program please view the mediation program webpage.

Applications, Forms, and Information

The following applications, forms, and information are also available on the Applications and Permits page under the “I Want To…Find” heading and are available on request at the Planning and Building Department public counter:

Applications and Forms

Address Request – To have an address for a property assigned or changed
Affordable Unit Interim Policy Application – To apply for the Affordable Dwelling Unit Policy, a City Council Policy for legalizing certain unpermitted dwelling units
Building Permit Application – Complete and submit with plans for building permit plan check
Building Plan Copying – Laws, process and forms for obtaining copies of building plans and related documents
City Council Appeal Form – Submit to City Clerk with fee to appeal a Department or Planning Commission action
Green Building Incentive Program Registration Form – For registering in the City’s green building program
Height Certification Form – Licensed Land Surveyor to complete to verify building height
Heritage Tree Nomination Form – Complete and submit to nominate a tree for Heritage Tree status
Housing Tracking Form – Submit prior to final inspection of residential units
Service Request Application – Submit for minor research and service requests (zoning letters, etc.)
Temporary Sign/Banner Application – Submit for temporary sign and banner permits


Accessory Unit Regulations – Regulations for accessory units (aka secondary units or “granny flats”)
Affordable Unit Interim Policy FAQ - Frequently asked questions regarding the Affordable Unit Interim Policy
Applicant’s Guide to Setbacks – Information and examples for application of setback requirements
Building Permit Plan Check Requirements – Requirements for plan content to complete zoning review
CDP Requirements for Residential Remodels - Information on CDP requirements for residential remodels and additions
Citizen’s Participation Plan Handout – Detailed instructions for preparing a Citizen’s Participation Plan
Determination of Legal Parcel – Guidelines used for determining if a parcel of land is legal
Gray water Systems - Information and regulations
Green Building Incentive Program Information – Information on the City’s green building program
Home Occupations – Regulations for conduction a business at a residence
Invasive Plant Policy – Information on the City's invasive plant policy
Mills Act Handout – Information on the City’s Mills Act Program for historical structures
Residential Height Regulations – The City’s height regulations and how to apply them
Sign Information – Information on sign allowances, requirements, and regulations
Tent and Canopy Requirements – Zoning requirements for temporary tents and canopies
Urban Agriculture FAQ – Information on urban agriculture regulations
USPS Postal Requirements Sheet – Requirements for providing access to USPS personnel
Zoning Designations – Descriptions of zoning designations in the City
Zoning Summary – Commercial - Table of commercial zones and development standards (setbacks, etc.)
Zoning Summary – Residential - Table of residential zones and development standards (setbacks, etc.)


Parkland Acquisition and Improvements Fees - Parks and Recreation development impact fees (administered by Planning)
Planning Application Processing Fees – Administrative, discretionary, and building plan check application fees


California Coastal Commission
Cardiff School District
Encinitas Union School District
Leucadia Wastewater District
North County Transit District
Olivenhain Municipal Water District
San Diego County Recorder/Assessor
San Dieguito Union High School District
State Office of Planning and Research