San Diego supports accessory dwelling construction with “free virtual appointments”

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The City of San Diego says it is is expanding its online virtual appointment services to help residents and business owners with questions about constructing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and installing or altering building signs.

In October 2020, the Development Services Department (DSD) launched its online booking system for virtual services to replace previously available walk-in and scheduled appointments at the downtown Development Services Center. Online appointments have improved access for customers since City facilities were closed to public access in response to COVID-19 safety measures implemented in March.   

“Accessory dwelling units are an essential part of helping San Diego meet its affordable housing needs and create housing options for all of us,” Mayor Todd Gloria said in a Dec. 11 statement. “Using technology, San Diegans can tap into the expertise at Development Services to convert underused parts of their properties into affordable, independent, and long-term living solutions for residents who’ve been priced out of our housing market.”

New ADU virtual services come in response to increased public interest in constructing these units, triggered by the City’s Housing SD initiatives that have made it easier, quicker and less expensive to build. During virtual ADU appointments, DSD staff will guide homeowners or design professionals on zoning requirements and help determine ADU project development regulations.

In addition to the ADU online appointments, the public can now meet virtually with designated DSD staff to better understand the City’s building sign regulations. Staff can answer questions on the size, type and placement of signs used for business identification or residential buildings.

“In the last three years, DSD has issued permits for more than 1,100 new ADUs,” said Development Services Department Director Elyse W. Lowe. “Virtual appointments are making it convenient for customers to receive project guidance from DSD Staff prior to applying for a building permit. This is another important customer service offering that is part of our transition to #DigitalDSD.”

To schedule a virtual meeting, customers can visit and choose either a 30-minute or 45-minute appointment. Customers will receive an email confirmation with instructions and a link to join the meeting at the date and time requested.

The expansion and implementation of virtual counter appointments is an integral part of #DigitalDSD, an initiative to modernize all DSD workplace systems and cost-effectively leverage technology to increase productivity and improve service delivery. Other #DigitalDSD services introduced this year include online permitting, the launch of an online portal to assist local businesses with outdoor expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual inspections for construction projects.


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