Planning Commission recommends ordinance changes to terminate inactive projects

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The county’s Planning Commission has recommended that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors adopt ordinance amendments to allow for the termination of inactive discretionary land use projects.

A 6-0 Planning Commission vote January 21, with Doug Barnhart absent, recommended that the county supervisors adopt amendments to the county’s subdivision ordinance and the county’s zoning ordinance to address the closing of inactive permit applications.

In October 2009 the county supervisors adopted Board of Supervisors Policy I-137 to address privately-initiated projects with a history of inactivity. A sunset review of Policy I-137 resulted in revisions approved in November 2019. A project is classified as inactive if required information and/or documents are not received by the county’s Department of Planning and Development Services (PDS) within 12 months of the due date specified by the most recent county correspondence letter. The applicant will be notified in writing that the project will be placed into idle status. Projects are allowed to remain in idle status for up to two years unless the PDS director grants an extension. If an inactive project is not reactivated by the expiration date for its idle status PDS will recommend that the decision-making authority deny the project due to inadequate progress.

The November 2019 revisions stipulated that Policy I-137 will expire in April 2022 unless further action is taken. The 2019 action also directed PDS staff to review the 123 projects which at the time were in idle status and to notify the applicants of their option to withdraw or reactivate their projects. The notifications resulted in 77 projects being formally withdrawn, 18 requests to remain in idle status, and 15 requests for reactivation with 13 applicants not responding. In January 2021 the PDS director denied four of the idle projects whose applicant didn’t respond, and in April 2021 the Planning Commission denied the other nine idle projects.

Under the proposed revisions a project will still be placed in inactive status if no response has been received one year after the PDS request. An applicant then has two years to provide the requested items to remove the project from inactive status. At the end of the two-year period the applicant must apply for a two-year extension of inactive status and if no extension request is received the project would automatically be withdrawn. After the first two-year extension an applicant may apply for a second two-year extension if there are circumstances beyond the applicant’s control such as mandated requirements or review from other government agencies, the need to complete studies which may include surveys, the discovery of new environmental issues, or financial hardship. If the requested items are not submitted by the expiration of the second two-year extension the project would be automatically withdrawn.

“I think that sounds very reasonable,” said Planning Commissioner David Pallinger.

“This seems to be a fair and reasonable way to approach this subject matter” said planning commissioner Ron Ashman.

Planning Commission recommends ordinance changes to terminate inactive projects

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