Development Services
Code Options

Office & Location

Development Services Department Map

Cliff Morton Development and Business Services Center
1901 South Alamo Street
San Antonio, TX 78204

Phone:
210.207.1111

Hours:
7:45 am - 4:30 pm (Mon - Fri)
Closed on City Holidays

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Code OptionS and code modifications

Our mission is to partner with our community to build and maintain a safer San Antonio. We recognize that at times the design or ideas for your project may have challenges in complying with or may not be addressed by the City’s adopted building codes or the Unified Development Code (UDC). As such, our goal is to work with you to help resolve any development issues that may arise. We offer a range of code options as applicable to the code requirements, such as code interpretations, the option to seek an administrative exception to the UDC, and code modification requests to the building codes. Depending on your project and type of required modifications, you may also have the option to apply for a variance, or appeal a decision made by the department. There are boards or commissions established to hear applicable variances and appeals. The following section will help guide you on what options are available to you.

View Code IntepretationsAs a starting point, the Development Services Department has established a formal Code Interpretation Request process to allow the owner and/or owner’s agent to obtain a formal interpretation to any provision of the City’s building construction codes. These codes include the City’s Building, Existing Building, Fire, Residential, Energy Conservation, Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing codes. The purpose of formal code interpretations is to clarify issues which may not be addressed directly by the literal text of the adopted code or that are interpretive in nature. Formal interpretations are intended to be general in nature and not specific to only one project. If you are seeking to find an existing code interpretation, click on Code Interpretations to see if your question has already been addressed. See IB 115 for How to Request a Code Interpretation. Should you have any questions regarding the Code Interpretation Request process, please contact a Development Services Engineer at 210-207-0146.


The Administrative Exceptions provide applicants the opportunity to seek administrative reprieve from the City’s Unified Development Code (UDC). Through this process, the City is attempting to administratively resolve issues regarding development regulations, such as subdivision, tree preservation, landscaping, traffic and other development regulations before a variance to the Board of Adjustment or Planning Commission becomes necessary.

This process has been introduced to help expedite and evaluate your requests in a consistent and timely manner throughout  Development Services. Administrative Exceptions are approved by the Director of Development Services and cannot be granted for exceptions to the zoning regulations.

In all cases, after administrative review, all decisions are made in writing and the applicant will receive a copy of the ruling. The application and the City’s final administrative decision are officially recorded with the department.

Should your Administrative Exception request be denied you have the option to request a variance from the Planning Commission or the Board of Adjustment. For information regarding an Administrative Exception, refer to Information Bulletin 124.

Resources:

Boards:

Development Services and the Fire Department developed a formal Code Modification Request process to allow applicants to apply for an alternative material, design, and/or method of construction or other modification to any provision of the City’s building construction codes. When submitting a Code Modification Request, applicants are required to show that the spirit, intent, and minimum acceptable level of public health, welfare and safety are observed per the applicant code. Should your Code Modification Request be denied you have the option to appeal the Director’s decision to the Building-Related and Fire Codes Appeals and Advisory Board. This process has been introduced to help expedite and evaluate your requests in a timely manner. See Information Bulletin 114 for Code Modification Request Procedures.

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Boards:

The Unified Development Code (UDC) recognizes that property owners may have design challenges that do not comply with zoning and platting requirements of the UDC. All zoning related requests for variances are heard by the Board of Adjustment. Requests for variances relating to platting are heard by the Planning Commission.

Board of Adjustment Variances and Special Exceptions

The Board of Adjustment hears cases where a property owner believes that a strict interpretation of a zoning regulation creates an unnecessary and/or unique physical hardship. Property owners can apply to the Board of Adjustment for a variance or special exception. With a Variance, the Board grants permission to deviate from the Zoning Ordinance allowing a project to proceed. A request for a Variance application along with supporting documents is submitted to Development Services’ Zoning Section.

There are times where a proposed project may be eligible for a special exception from sections of the Unified Development Code. These requests also require a Board of Adjustment hearing. The following are considered typical residential Special Exceptions:

If you do not see your situation listed above as a Special Exception, please contact a Senior Planner at 210.207.8208 to inquire about other options.

Planning Commission Variances

The Planning Commission hears cases where a property owner believes that a strict interpretation of a development regulation creates an unnecessary and/or unique physical hardship. Property owners can apply to the Planning Commission for a variance. With a variance, the Commission grants permission to deviate from development regulations allowing a project to proceed. A request for a Variance application along with supporting documents is submitted to Development Services’ Land Entitlement Section.

Summary

Once all of the documentation and fees are received by our department, a Case Manager will be assigned to your application. This Case Manager will be your primary point of contact throughout the process. Your application will be routed to the appropriate staff and a public hearing will be conducted. Please check the BOA Meeting Schedule and Planning Commission Meeting Schedule for application deadlines.

The Board of Adjustment will make a final determination at the public hearing. All final determinations are issued in writing which must be included with your project submittal.

Forms & Applications: 

Resources:

Boards:

Our goal is to work with property owners and licensed contractors to resolve situations that may arise. We highly encourage that you first work with the department to see if a resolution or compromise can be achieved through an established process. You can always reach Development Services' senior staff. The contact information can be found in the departmental organizational charts under the About Us section of our website.

There are times when you may feel a staff decision requires further review by a board. Development Services recognizes that we might not always agree on our interpretation of the City’s adopted building codes and the Unified Development Code. As such, you may have a right to appeal our decisions. The City has several boards that, as applicable, can hear your appeals:

Building-Related and Fire Codes Appeals and Advisory Board:

Decisions related to the City’s adopted building codes can be appealed to the Building-Related and Fire Codes Appeals and Advisory Board could be based on the following; a claim that the true intent of the code has been incorrectly interpreted, the provisions of the code do not fully apply, or an equally good or better form of construction is proposed.

For additional information on how to submit your appeal please reference Information Bulletin 144. Applications must be submitted in person at 1901 S. Alamo Street. For information regarding appeals to Building-Related and Fire Codes Appeals and Advisory Board call 210.207.8237 or email Mimi Camargo.

Board of Adjustment:

Decisions related to the City’s Unified Development Code can be appealed to the Board of Adjustment. See Information Bulletin 554 on the Board of Adjustment Appeals Process.

Planning Commission:

The Planning Commission also hears appeals of decisions related to the Unified Development Code such as Rights Determination and Certificates of Determination. To file an appeal with the Planning Commission complete the application found in the Forms and Resources Section below. The application must include a copy of the notification of decision letter, detailed rationale for the appeal and any applicable fees.

Forms & Applications: 

Resources:

Boards: