I really dislike waiting. I think to some degree all people do. The only thing worse than waiting on someone else, is when people are waiting for you. Talk about an uncomfortable experience!

Well, as many of you may know, when governmental agencies are involved, you may feel like you are waiting for an eternity. Most people allow this to happen because they fear if they fight back or complain that their aggression/assertiveness will cause their project to be held back in some way out of personal retaliation. Some also wait because it is of no interest to them to move forward at an aggressive pace; to these people I applaud you…I simply could not do it!

So after you have completed all of your pre-project preparation and feel like the project is good to go its time to submit your application and begin the process! If you have not had the chance to read our last article, please take a moment to do so!

So let’s talk about that timeline shall we?

LAND USE – PART TWO – The Permit Streamlining Act in relation to determining project completeness.

The Permit Streamlining Act, enacted in 1977 was intended to aide in the expediting the processing of permits for development projects (Government Code, Section 65920).

This act sets various time limits upon which state and local governments must approve, or disapprove permits. The type of permit would depend of the extent of these time limits.

Before we dig a bit deeper, let’s define what a development project is:

A development project is defined as: any project undertaken for the purpose of development. A development project would include a project involving the issuance of a permit for construction or reconstruction but not a permit to operate. The term development project does not include ministerial project (for example: over the counter or building permits) proposed to be carried out or approved by public agencies. (Government Code, Section 65928)

For example here are a few things that would NOT fall under the Permit Streamlining Act:

  • Legislative land use decisions such as amendments to the zoning ordinance or general plan.
  • Final subdivision maps and there approval or disapproval.
  • Ministerial projects, such as building permits, or perhaps event permits.
  • Administrative appeals.

Under this Act, the applicant must submit a complete application (agencies are required to provide a checklist of these necessary items). The agency then has 30 days after an application is submitted to inform the applicant of whether the application is complete. If the agency does not inform the applicant within the 30 day time period, the application will be deemed complete. Should the application be deemed incomplete within the 30 day time period the applicant re-submittal based on its notice of incomplete will re-start the 30 day time period for review and response by the lead agency.

Most people assume that the Permit Streamlining Act is self-executing. IT IS NOT. You the applicant must “invoke” your rights under the permit streamlining act. Preferably through a letter or e-mail for record purposes.  Deeming a project complete does not mean that a project is approved; however, it is the first step in moving a project forward.

In the next article we will talk about the next time periods that would likely affect a project (administrative permits vs. conditional permits). We will also start to talk about scary CEQA.

What can we take from this Article? STAY ON TOP OF YOUR PROJECT. Work with the lead agency by checking in to see what the status of your project is. Contact the agencies that are reviewing your project. Ask if comments might be available to you in advance of the 30-day time period. BE PROACTIVE! Projects generally are processed faster when an applicant is involved in the process.

Lastly, take a deep breath and try not to get frustrated. There are many agencies out there today that are very understaffed. If you happen to be working with one of these continue to be proactive but understand that they are likely piled up with projects all facing the same deadlines as yours.

Good luck and more to come on this whole timelines and deadlines thing. Send me your comments or questions if there are specific items you would like me to discuss on these articles!