Development Review Process
- The first step is the pre-application which involves “big picture” issues such as general location, project size, involvement of key departments, etc.
- Next, we move to Conceptual Design Review where boards/committees have an opportunity to provide feedback without making any “commitment.” During this step feasibility of the project is determined, neighbors are consulted, etc. It could take up to 3 months for the Planning Commission and the Design Review Board to give feedback.
- Then, the applicant submits the planning application to the City.
- Project is reviewed by the City for code compliance. If application is deemed incomplete, a Letter of Incompleteness is sent to the applicant with detailed comments from all reviewing City departments/divisions. This must be prepared within 30 calendar days after submittal.
- If incomplete, applicant resubmits revised plans/additional information and there is a subsequent review by City staff; it can take up to 6 months for applicant to re-submit and for the City to respond.
- CEQA exemption status is determined. A word about CEQA: The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) outlines categories of projects which are exempt from further environmental review. Projects which are not categorically exempt require an Initial Study which leads to either a Negative Declaration or an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The City typically contracts the preparation of the required environmental assessment document to a City-hired CEQA consultant.
- If an Initial Study/Negative Declaration are required for the project pursuant to CEQA, additional processing time is required for the preparation and public review of these environmental documents.
- If exempt, formal application is sent to DRB which can take 6 weeks. If changes are required, it can take up to 3 months. DRB is recommending body so their recommendations are referred to the PC.
- Planning Commission approves/denies project and issues public notices for public hearing.
- When application is deemed complete, City Council approves/denies project and decision is made.
- Once City Council approves, building permit process commences.
It is important to note that prior to the commencement of the design review process, the applicant must go through a separate process of finalizing drawings, detailed plans, and nailing down other project details.