Planning & Zoning

Zoning Administration

Zoning Administration reviews certain types of projects for compliance with applicable zoning codes. In some cases, if a property cannot be developed in conformance with standards, there are processes available to modify the standards.

Board of Adjustment Variances

Requests for variances from the provisions of the Unified Development Code are heard by the Board of Adjustment (B/A). The Board of Adjustment bases their decision on the following findings:

  • That, because there are special circumstances applicable to the property, strict enforcement of the UDC will deprive such property of privileges enjoyed by other property of the same classification in the same zoning district;
  • That such special circumstances were not self-imposed or created by the owner or one in possession of the property;
  • That the variance granted is subject to such conditions as will assure that the adjustment authorized shall not constitute a grant of special privileges inconsistent with the limitations upon other properties in the vicinity and zone in which  such property is located;
  • That, because of special circumstances applicable to the property, including its size, shape, topography, location, and surroundings, the property cannot reasonably be developed in conformity with the provisions of the UDC;
  • That the granting of the variance shall not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to other property or improvements in the neighborhood in which the property is located;
  • That the proposed variance shall not impair an adequate supply of light and air to adjacent property, substantially increase congestion, or substantially diminish or impair property values within the neighborhood; and,
  • That the variance, if granted, is the minimum variance that will afford relief and is the least modification possible of the UDC provisions that are in question.

More information about variances, including limitations on the powers of the Board of Adjustment, can be found in UDC 3.10.3.

Design Development Option

The Design Development Option (DDO) was established to provide an administrative process by which specific development and dimensional standards of the UDC may be modified under certain criteria applicable to a land use within a zone. A DDO is intended to encourage the following:

  • Flexible design solutions that are within the intent of the regulation, encourage efficient use of land, do not create a nuisance on adjacent property, and address situations where strict application of a requirement may not be practical;
  • Energy conservation through site and building design;
  • Innovation in site planning and architectural design; and,
  • Enhancement of community aesthetics.

The following dimensional, screening, and landscaping standards may be considered for modification under this Section:

  • Setbacks;
  • Height of accessory walls and fences when the wall and fence heights do not exceed two feet above the maximum height permitted;
  • Landscaping and screening standards when the modification does not decrease the required area in square footage of landscaping or height of a screening  feature; and,
  • Structural setback and parking space length requirements for carports only in single-family and duplex development.

Liquor Mitigation

A Food Service establishment that is located within 300 feet of a residential zone, excluding public right-of-way, measured in a straight line from the licensed premises to the zone boundary line of R-3 or more restrictive zoning may serve alcoholic beverages upon conformance with the following conditions:

  • The applicant is required to submit a mitigation plan to the PDSD Director that will be reviewed in accordance with Section 3.3.5, 300' Notice Procedure. The mitigation plan shall specifically address noise from the use, including parking lot noise, screening of lighting from vehicle headlights and light standards on site, parking, and access to adjacent neighborhoods, but shall not address issues that are the purview of the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, such as the number of liquor licenses in the area or the hours of liquor sales.
  • If the use is operated in a manner that violates the mitigation plan or conditions for permitting the use or causes adverse land use impacts, the use may be suspended or terminated in accordance with Section 10.4, Penalties and Remedies.

Marijuana Facility Authorization

Marijuana Uses are defined in UDC, Article 11.3.9.

Temporary Diversion of Parking

Motor vehicle parking spaces within a vehicular use area may be used temporarily for storage or display of boats, cars, recreational vehicles, semi-truck trailers, furniture, or items of any other nature, subject to all of the following conditions:

  • The vehicular use area contains more than nine spaces for motor vehicle parking;
  • If the vehicular use area contains fewer than 250 spaces, no more than 10% of the total number of vehicle parking spaces is diverted to another use;
  • The maximum period of diversion is 15 days. Additional 15 day extensions up to a maximum of 60 days per year may be granted for reasonable cause upon written request from the applicant;
  • Spaces are not diverted to another use more than once in any calendar month;
  • The spaces diverted are not designated or designed for use by the physically disabled; and,
  • The diversion is not for the purpose of dismantling or repairing vehicles.

Temporary Use Permits

Certain land uses or buildings not permitted within specific zones may be permitted on a temporary basis if authorized in accordance with Section 3.3.3, PDSD Director Approval Procedure, provided such request for a temporary use complies with the following. For certain land uses or buildings to be permitted on a temporary basis, the land use or building shall comply with one or more of the following special circumstances.

  • The circumstances constitute a substantial hardship, such as, but not limited to, a natural disaster, e.g., fire or flood, or a government action that has resulted in damage to an existing building on the subject property.
  • A temporary building, such as a mobile or modular unit, utilized for the management or oversight of construction (e.g., contractor’s office) or occupied as a caretaker’s facility or a home for the eventual resident may be permitted during the construction of a permanent building. The temporary building shall be on the same site as the construction.
  • The temporary location of off-street parking facilities during the structural expansion or remodeling of an existing building may be permitted. Such temporary facilities do not have to comply with requirements of a permanent parking facility but shall, at a minimum, provide the following:
    • Screening from adjacent residential development. Since this is a temporary facility, screening cannot be achieved by the use of landscaping unless mature vegetation that can act as the screen exists on the site; and,
    • Dust-proofing.
  • A temporary real estate office may be permitted during construction of a project, provided:
    • The temporary use shall be terminated one year from the date the approval was granted. Additional 12-month extensions may be granted, provided sales activity for the project continues and 10% or more of the lots or units remain unsold;
    • The temporary office building is located on a lot and complies with all zoning standards applicable to that lot;
    • The temporary office building is located in the same subdivision within which sales occur; and,
    • The temporary use or building complies with any additional conditions required by the approval authority.
  • A temporary construction equipment yard for public improvement projects involving street improvements or the placement of utilities within public rights-of-way, provided solutions are implemented to mitigate potential negative impacts to adjacent residential development. Such solutions include, but are not limited to, screening of equipment, setbacks, hours of operation, and limited or restricted use of residential streets.
  • The temporary placement of a mobile telecommunications tower facility on nonresidential property may be permitted upon the demonstration by a telecommunications provider that the facility is necessary for its operations; the facility is setback from any residentially zoned property by a distance equal to the height of the proposed tower and base; and the tower and base do not exceed 65 feet from the existing grade. The temporary use authorized by this subsection shall be approved for a period not to exceed 60 days and may be approved for one extension of time not to exceed 60 days

Special Districts

Special Districts allow the City to achieve specific planning and development goals for particular areas. These goals can include promoting transit-oriented development, preserving neighborhood character, encouraging infill development, and more. Special Districts that have been established are the Downtown Area Infill Incentive District, Urban Overlay Districts, and Neighborhood Preservation Zones.

Special District Design Review Process

Development within special districts requires design review. This process varies by district and type of application. Please find more information about each district below. To apply for a design review, follow the steps listed in the document below.

  • Special District Application Instructions

To request a pre-application meeting, refer to these instructions:

  • Pre-Application Conference

All applications should be submitted via Tucson Development Center Online.

Downtown Area Infill Incentive District

As described in Section 5.12 of the Unified Development Code, the primary purpose of the Downtown Area Infill Incentive District (IID) is to encourage redevelopment in the following ways:

  1. Encourage sustainable infill development that supports the creation of urban neighborhoods that are pedestrian and transit-oriented and benefits the IID, the major activity centers in the area, and the City as a whole, while promoting compatibility with existing residential and non-residential properties and neighborhoods;
  2. Address barriers to infill development in the Downtown Area Infill Incentive District (IID), such as incompatible development standards and associated development barrier issues;
  3. Implement the IID purposes by offering development incentives permitting a modification of development requirements;
  4. Provide for appropriate transitional design standards where the development or expansion of a use is adjacent to existing single-family residential development;
  5. Protect historic structures and historic neighborhoods and existing residential neighborhoods from potential negative impacts of new development; and,
  6. Consolidate the regulations and design standards that apply to downtown areas into a single ordinance by moving certain provisions of the Rio Nuevo District (RND) overlay zone, former Section 5.11, into the IID Rio Nuevo Area (RNA) and renumbering them to conform to the numbering of the IID
  • Neighborhood Preservation Zone
  • Rio Nuevo Area
  • Urban Overlay Districts


The Entitlements section reviews and processes applications for land use changes that require discretionary approval, typically either from the Mayor and Council or the Zoning Examiner.

  • Rezoning
  • Special Exceptions
  • Original City Zoning
  • Plan Amendments

Contact Us

Contact Information

Planning and Development Services

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
(520) 791-5550

Tucson Development Center

201 N. Stone Avenue
8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
(520) 791-5550
Note: Customer Service Counter is open for questions and customer assistance. No over-the-counter plan review.

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