In October 2016, the City Council accepted the Housing Action Plan (Plan), which includes a variety of programs aimed at addressing the City’s ongoing unmet housing needs. Program 4 of the Plan identifies the need to “improve development readiness of housing opportunity sites”. One of the initiatives in this program is to “continue implementation of permit streamlining for planning entitlements”.
The Planning Division faces difficulties in complying with State time limits on development project applications.
Below are some of the common complaints of the City’s planning entitlement process, which includes review of conditional use permits, design review and subdivisions, to name a few:
It takes too long to receive staff comments;
Staff comments and definition of “completeness” are inconsistent across the plan review team;
Compliance with Sate time limits per the Permit Streamlining Act and the California Environmental Quality Act are not always complied with; and
There is a lack of transparency and accountability in project status and staff performance.
It is a priority of the City to address these issues collaboratively with staff, applicants and the public.
In November 2016, the City entered into a contract with Metropolitan Planning Group (M-Group) to assist with the Planning Process Improvements project, which includes the following three elements:
Design Review Reform
Density Bonus Ordinance Update (added to the scope of work in May 2017)
Outreach for the Permit Streamlining portion of the project began in March 2017 with stakeholder meetings, which included the Developer Task Force, City staff, one-on-one meetings with developers and the City’s Community Advisory Board (CAB). These meetings were an opportunity to gain an understanding of community, resident and applicant sentiment.
City staff and the project consultant will also be meeting with the Planning Commission, Design Review Board and Cultural Heritage Board in joint sessions on June 15, 2017 to gain an understanding of their view of the entitlement process.
The goal of the Permit Streamlining project is to create mutually acceptable completeness checklists, timeframes and consistent definitions of completeness, reduce turnaround times from application to action, and provide accountability and transparency through metric-based quantitative and qualitative reporting of performance.
For additional information please contact Jessica Jones, Supervising Planner, at [email protected] or at (707) 543-3410.