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By Supervisor Jim Desmond
San Diego County Fifth District 

Streamlining discretionary permitting process would make housing more affordable

 

Last updated 8/5/2019 at 12:48pm



We all know housing affordability is a problem in San Diego County. Housing affordability is a complex issue that is a result of multiple factors, such as land acquisition, infrastructure improvements, construction, financing and processing permits. Processing permits can be a large burden of cost for individuals, businesses and developers alike. Costs incurred during the permitting process include staff review time, the California Environmental Quality Act process, engineering and design and the financing costs of land holding. Ultimately these costs are passed on to renters and home buyers.

There are many other factors that have contributed to the rising costs, which have forced hard-working people to relocate. One of those factors that the county can control is the permitting process.

This week, I introduced a board letter, to streamline the discretionary permitting process with the goal to make housing more affordable.

My letter calls for six points, which will help the streamlining process.

1. Implementing a self-certification process for engineers: This would allow licensed engineers to certify some of their technical analyses and complete the iterative process, without going through county process.

2. Implementing permit and CEQA evaluation requirements: This would investigative the feasibility of setting clear expectations of a CEQA analysis.

3. Increasing final engineering flexibility: This would investigate the feasibility of increasing the amount of flexibility to modify a project in order to comply with Federal and state requirements such as stormwater regulations and wildlife agency permitting.

4. Increase opportunities to expand checklist exemptions to certain permit process: This would investigative the feasibility of increasing the use of waivers and exemptions of permits for small scale projects.

5. Implementing project issue resolution process: This would investigate the feasibility of implementing a project issue resolution process so that issues can be resolved faster.

6. Increasing coordination and accountability between departments: This would look for staff to find ways to increase coordination and accountability between departments.

The county will now investigate the feasibility of these six process improvements and return to the board in the next 180 days for approval. It’s my goal that through this we can ease requirements and lower permitting costs.

 

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