Park Lands Dedication Ordinance (PLDO)



The PLDO was adopted on February 17, 1973, pursuant to the State Quimby Act, to meet the park and recreational needs of residents of new residential developments in unincorporated San Diego County. The PLDO requires dedication of parks, payment of in-lieu fees, or a combination of both for all residential development projects. For developments on 50 or more parcels, the County typically requires dedication of park land. For developments on less than 50 parcels, only payment of in-lieu fees may be required.

The current PLDO divides the County into 24 Local Park Planning Areas (LPPAs). Each LPPA requires different in-lieu fees or allocations of dedicated park land per dwelling unit; fees are based on land acquisition and construction costs within the LPPA, and park land is dedicated based on park acreage and population density


On December 16, 2015, the Board of Supervisors approved recommendations (Board of Supervisor’s December 16, 2015 (2) Hearing Report) to evaluate the current Park Lands Dedication Ordinance (PLDO), research other ordinances and gather input from stakeholders.

Subsequently, on July 20, 2016 (10), the Board directed the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to conduct a comprehensive update of the PLDO (Board of Supervisor’s July 20, 2016 (10) Hearing Report).  A comprehensive update included funding for a consultant prepared nexus/feasibility study which explored the legal and policy basis for updating the PLDO based on the Quimby Act, Mitigation Act, or both and provided recommendations.

On June 27, 2018, DPR will present a summary of staff recommended PLDO changes and options for consideration by the Board of Supervisors. DPR will then return to the Board of Supervisors to request adoption of a new ordinance based on the options selected by the Board. The proposed changes reflect research, nexus/feasibility study, extensive stakeholder outreach, and staff’s recommended approach for developing communities that are healthy, safe and thriving. Below are links to the proposed PLDO and associated Board Policies, and a summary of staff recommended changes to the PLDO and the options for Board of Supervisors consideration.

Park Lands Dedication Ordinance

Board Policy F-26: Utilization of Park Lands Dedication Ordinance Fees and Interest

Board Policy I-44: Procedure for Designing New County-Owned Local Parks

Board Policy G-19: Design Guidelines and Standards for County Parks and Recreational Facilities

Park Design Manual

Parks Master Plan


Summary of Staff Recommended Changes to Park Lands Dedication Ordinance


Subject Area

Staff Recommended Change


Statutory Authority

PLDO fee based on both Quimby and Mitigation Fee Acts.


Quimby Act

Park In-Lieu Fee for residential subdivisions only. Clarify that condominium projects are subject to land dedication requirements.


Mitigation Fee Act

Park Land Acquisition Fee for residential projects that do not require subdivision of land; funds park land acquisition. Park Improvement Fee for all residential development; funds park improvements. 2% Administrative Fee for all residential projects.


Housing Type

Assess different rates for single-family, multi-family, and accessory dwelling units


PLDO Rates

Align PLDO rates with current occupancy rates and land acquisition and construction costs. Implement PLDO rate increase by one-third over a three year period. Assess PLDO rates for new construction only. Applicant pays fee in effect upon fee payment.


Timing of Payment

PLDO fees to be paid prior to issuance of building permit, unless deferred pursuant to County’s Fee Deferral Program.



Projects that have already submitted applications may apply the current or proposed ordinance to their project.


Local Park Planning Areas

Base Local Park Planning Areas on Community and Subregional Plan Area Boundaries.


Active Recreation

Replace “Active Recreation” with an expanded “PLDO Eligible Recreation” definition. 


PLDO Eligible Recreation

New recreational including, but not limited to, adventure play areas, amphitheaters, bicycle parks, dog parks, community event spaces, equestrian facilities, exercise stations, frisbee/disc golf, skate parks, trails and other uses as approved by the Director.  


Use of Revenue

Allocate accrued PLDO revenue toward the expanded list of recreational uses. 




Categorize recreational uses into high intensity, low intensity, and specialty uses.  Require a minimum of two high intensity uses and one low intensity use. Require a multipurpose sports field for projects dedicating of 5 or more acres of parks.


Scenic Overlooks

Half credit for improved scenic overlooks not to exceed 10% of total PLDO requirement. 



Half credit for trails not required by the County Trails Program not to exceed 10% of total PLDO acreage requirement. 


Steep Slopes

Half credit for improved steep slopes, not to exceed 10% of total acreage requirement. 


Stormwater Facilities

Half credit for stormwater facilities improved with recreational amenities not to exceed 10% of total PLDO acreage requirement. 


Offsite Dedication

Allow for park land dedication outside of development boundary. 


Minimum Park Size

Require 0.4 acre minimum public park size and no minimum park size for private parks.


Private Parks

Require a Site Plan or Major Use Permit to govern private park design.


Park Design Manual

Establish park design standards and guidelines based on existing park design documents.


General Plan

Reference currently adopted General Plan.



Removed definitions in existing County ordinances and added new definitions for clarity.


Board Policy I-44

Require park plans to be presented to the applicable community planning/sponsor group as an informational item. 


Board Policy G-19

Require developer constructed parks comply with the Park Design Manual.


Board Policy F-26

Update to ensure consistency with proposed changes to the PLDO fee structure. Allow for 25% of a community’s PLDO balance each fiscal year to be allocated for trail acquisition and development. Reimburse developer for half of park improvement costs above 3 acres per 1,000 residents, if they dedicate improved parks at a rate of at least 5 acres per 1,000 residents. 

Alternative Options for Board Consideration:

The ordinance changes recommended above received broad stakeholder support. There were, however, two main areas where some stakeholder groups supported options different from the staff recommendation. In addition, the staff recommendation includes a voluntary developer incentive to construct more parkland than the minimum acreage required.

Alternative Option 1

In the current PLDO, no park acreage credit is provided to developers for constructing trails. The staff recommendation for trails is to provide 50% PLDO credit for trails and improved overlooks, not to exceed 10% of the required PLDO acreage for trails. PLDO acreage credit would only be allowed for trails that are not already required pursuant to the County Trails Program. Alternative Option 1 would allow PLDO credit for all trails, including those required as part of the County Trails Program.

Alternative Option 2

The current PLDO provides 50% credit for private parks and allows private parks to constitute up to half of the required park acreage. The staff recommendation is to retain this same provision. Alternative Option 2 would allow private parks to constitute up to 75% of the required PLDO acreage.

Alternative Option 3

In the current PLDO there are no developer incentives to exceed minimum park acreage requirements. If adopted, the proposed PLDO would include a voluntary incentive to reimburse a developer for a portion of their park improvements if they provide parks at a rate of 5 acres or more per 1,000 residents. The incentive would reimburse half of the park improvement costs over the required 3 acres per 1,000 residents and would only be available if there is sufficient PLDO funding in the LPPA account. The Director of Parks and Recreation would have the authority to approve the use of existing PLDO fees, if available within the Local Park Planning Area, for reimbursement to the developer. Alternative Option 3 would remove the voluntary developer incentive from the PLDO.

Comments and Recommendations

If you or your organization would like to provide comments/recommendations, please contact Marcus Lubich at (858) 966-1348 or email  

Written comments should be sent to Department of Parks and Recreation, 5500 Overland Avenue, Suite 410, San Diego, CA 92123, attn.: Marcus Lubich


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