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Tenant Improvements

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Tenant Improvement 


When a new business moves into an existing commercial or industrial space or an existing business changes or modifies its use and/or expands within the existing building, interior alterations (both structural or nonstructural)  to the space are generally made.  These alterations will require a Tenant Improvement Permit.  

Note:  The alterations may also require electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits, a change in the permitted use ("Change in Use") or an increase in the permitted number of occupants ("Occupant Load").

How to Apply 

To apply for a Tenant Improvement Permit, please visit our Development Services Permit Counter, located at 276 Fourth Avenue, Building B.  Applicants are responsible for submitting complete applications. Incomplete applications will not be accepted or will cause significant delays during the review process. City service commitments will not apply to incomplete submittals. 

A complete submittal package consists of the following:

  1. A completed "Tenant Improvement Application, Form 4564"
  2. Four copies of a Plot/Site Plan showing the general layout of the existing building site, location of the tenant improvement, address, and an accessible path of travel from accessible parking and public transportation to accessible entrance(s).
  3. Four copies of construction plans and details, including but not limited to; floor plan, exiting plan, California accessibility requirements and details, CALGreen requirements, reflected ceiling plan, framing details, lighting plan, electrical/plumbing/mechanical plans, and other applicable plans as listed in the "Tenant Improvement Application, Form 4564"
  4. Two sets of Title 24 energy compliance documents when changes are proposed to the mechanical system, lighting or building envelope
  5. A completed Hazardous Materials Questionnaire  (If you answer "Yes" to any of the items in Part II or III, you must obtain approval from the appropriate County office as listed under Part II or III of the Questionnaire)
  6. A completed Construction Valuation Form (4596) - see Valuation Tables
  7. Tenant Improvements over 1,000 square feet require a Waste Management Report; projects over 10,000 square feet also require a deposit (calculated on square footage)
  8. Food service and body art requires Public Health approval prior to issuance of the building permit.
  9. Follow this link to see if your project is eligible for Expedited Service or other incentives
  10. Storm Water Requirements Applicability Checklist


During the permitting process you will be asked to pay basic permit fees: Intake Fees, Plan Check Fees and Inspection Fees. You are required to pay the Intake and Plan Check Fees at project submittal. Inspection Fees are paid at time of permit issuance. Fees are determined by the type of construction, type of occupancy, square footage and the extent of the tenant improvement.

For additional information on fees, please see Fee Information - Tenant Improvement fees are found in "New Construction Permit Fees" and are based on Occupancy Type (each type has a Tenant Improvement subtype), Construction Type and Square Footage.

Review Process

Once the Development Services Technician (DST) verifies that the application package is complete, and you pay the Intake and Plan Check Fees, a set of plans/documents will be routed to each of the four review departments/divisions; Building, Planning, Engineering and Fire. Approval from all four departments/divisions is required prior to permit issuance. To contact any of the departments/divisions, please see the contact list shown at the end of this document.

The plan check process is then tracked in Accela, the City of Chula Vista's Automated Tracking System. The standard turn-around-time for an initial review is 21 calendar days. The standard turn-around-time for follow-up reviews (rechecks) is 14 calendar days. The primary applicant/contact will be notified via email at the end of each review cycle when corrections are ready for pick up or the permit is ready to issue.

After all the required approvals are obtained and the Permit Fees are paid, a DST will issue a building permit, and construction may begin.


At certain stages of the construction, you must schedule inspections. The following list represents the sequence of required inspections for a typical tenant improvement:

  1. Underground plumbing and electrical
  2. Foundation
  3. Interior wall framing and rough electric
  4. T-Bar ceiling and rough trades (electrical, plumbing & mechanical)
  5. Drywall nailing
  6. Electrical service
  7. Final Inspection

To schedule an inspection with the Building Division, go to Citizen Access and enter your permit number (or address).

After all required inspections are approved and required approvals from other divisions/departments are obtained, the Building Inspector will notify SDG&E to release the electric meter, and a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued. The issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy authorizes you to occupy and use the facility based on the permitted use shown on the Certificate of Occupancy.



One of the main issues that Building deals with is Disabled Access as it applies to existing buildings and tenant improvements in existing buildings. Per State law (California Building Standards Code - Title 24), existing buildings and facilities must comply when alterations, additions or repairs are to be made. Compliance includes:

  1. The area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
  2. A primary entrance to the building or facility; the path of travel to the area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
  3. Sanitary facilities serving the area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
  4. Drinking fountains serving the area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
  5. Public telephones serving the area of remodel, alteration, addition or repair
  6. Accessible parking and path of travel to accessible entrances.

Small projects (construction valuation up to $139,934) may qualify for an unreasonable hardship exception. See "Accessibility - Application for Unreasonable Hardship Exception, Form 4607".  Granting an unreasonable hardship exception does not exempt all non-complying features. You still need to spend an amount equal to 20% of the project cost, and only that amount, on making some or all of the non-complying features comply. Existing non-complying features that will cost more than 20% of the project cost to make them comply, or will push the cumulative cost above the 20% limit, may qualify for an exemption. Your plans must show those accessibility features that will be brought to compliance and those existing non-complying features that may qualify for an exemption. For additional information or clarification contact our Plans Examiners at (619) 407-3587.


City Dept. / Division
Phone Number

Fax Number

(Permits Section)


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