The Escondido Business Enhancement Zone

In August 2001, the City Council adopted Ordinance 2001-11 AZ modifying the existing Business Enhancement Zone (BEZ). An additional modification took place in May 2006 (Ordinance 2006-12 & Resolution 2006-56 regarding policies & public benefit criteria associated with the ordinance). The ability to request incentives for development was expanded to all commercial and industrial zoned properties in the City of Escondido.

In order to be considered for incentives, the development must meet one or more of the Public Benefit Criteria in the associated Council policy. Generally, the BEZ applies to new construction projects.

Contact the Planning Division at 760-839-4671 or Economic Development staff at 760-839-4587 for more information about this incentive and its eligibility criteria.

Requests for incentives must be made in writing to the Assistant City Manager and copied to the Assistant Planning Director and be accompanied by appropriate supporting materials.

Examples of the kinds of projects that would further revitalization efforts are as follows:

  • Quality restaurants, micro-brewery, sidewalk cafes, quality entertainment establishments, artists studios, art galleries, and a full-service hotel that complement California Center for the Arts, Escondido.
  • Unique bookstores, fine stationery stores, apparel and shoe stores, children's toys and bookstores, small ethnic and gourmet grocers that complement existing retail and support daytime consumers.
  • Mixed use projects providing live and work space and new or renovated professional office space that will infuse the area with new life and activity.

Restaurants – Central Core Area

For restaurants located in that portion of the Downtown Revitalization Area east of Centre City Parkway, Ordinance No. 91-30 allows the City Council to reduce up to 100% of the wastewater, water and traffic fees.

This area is within the Business Enhancement Zone. The provisions of the ordinance may be utilized in applying incentives to Business Enhancement Zone applications.

The following criteria are used in making the determination for a fee reduction:

  • The reduction in fees would be consistent with the goals and objectives described in the general plan.
  • The restaurant constitutes a desired segment of the restaurant market which would stimulate downtown revitalization efforts and/or complement the civic center operation. Features which should be considered in determining compliance with this provision are listed below:
    • Has hours of operation that encourage both daytime and nighttime activity;
    • Offers waiter/waitress service;
    • Offers a dining experience of one (1) to two (2) hours;
    • Offers a unique dining experience in terms of specialized foods, decor and atmosphere;
    • Commonly provides lounge/bar service;
    • Has a high standard of architectural design consistent with the downtown guidelines.
  • The restaurant as proposed would not be detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the community.

The criteria listed in this subsection are not intended to include those types of restaurants commonly referred to as fast food or high-turnover restaurants.

Changes in Use in Existing Buildings

To encourage revitalization efforts for our existing building stock, tenant improvement permits will not be charged wastewater, water and traffic fees, unless the project requires an increased water meter or sewer line size or adds significant parking. This policy does not apply to intensive uses such as laundromats, or to the first use in new buildings. Buildings in which the previous use was abandoned for 10 years or more are subject to development fees.

Permit Processing Fee Incentives – Targeted Commercial Areas

To encourage improvement and enhancement of existing businesses, the processing and permit fees shown below will be waived. Targeted areas are South Escondido Boulevard, East Valley Parkway and the Downtown Revitalization Area.

  • Minor Plot Plan Review
  • Design Review Fee
  • Project Plan Review
  • Encroachment Permit
  • Landscape Plan Check
  • Building Sign Permit
  • Sign Permit
  • Building Awning Permit
  • Facade Improvements

Criteria for incentive approval:

  • Cumulative fee incentives for any single business shall not exceed $500
  • Fee waivers shall involve exterior (street visible) improvements only
  • Waivers for new construction shall be limited to additions to existing businesses

For further information, contact the Planning Division 760-839-4671.

Building Demolitions & Abandoned Uses

On October 22, 2008, the City Council modified City policy regarding fee credits for demolished buildings and buildings with abandoned uses. This action established a 10-year time limit on the use of fee credits.

The fee credits have the following limitations:

  • Satisfactory documentation must be presented on the existence of the previous building;
  • Credits are applied to the fees for new projects on the same property (no monetary refunds are given);
  • Credit applies only to the property on which the demolitions occurred;
  • Credit cannot be transferred elsewhere.
  • Where a property is eligible for multiple fee credits, the credit generating the greater amount shall be used.

Fee credits apply to the following fees:

  • Water Connection Fee (if on City water)
  • Traffic Fee Local portion only (see below)
  • Wastewater Connection Fee (if on City sewer)
  • Park Fee
  • SDCWA Capacity Charge (if on City water)
  • Region of Influence Infrastructure Deposit
  • Public Facility Fee
  • Drainage Facilities Fee
  • Art Fee

Credits for Traffic Fees for a demolished residential use applied to a commercial use will be 25% of the fees shown in this guide, since commercial traffic fee rates are based on 25% of the residential rates.