Los Angeles Enacts Ordinance to Streamline Entitlement Process
Effective May 20, 2012, the “Multiple Approvals Procedural Revisions Ordinance” No. 182,106 (Multiple Approvals Ordinance) amends Chapter 1 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code (the “Code”) to establish uniform procedures for processing multiple discretionary land use approvals for a single development project.
The Multiple Approvals Ordinance aims to minimize the confusion, uncertainty, and delay often resulting from the current system of individualized entitlements review by encouraging a comprehensive review of proposed projects and streamlined processes for analyzing the merits of proposed projects requiring multiple discretionary approvals. All section references below are to the Code as amended by the Multiple Approvals Ordinance.
Requires Concurrent Filing
The Multiple Approvals Ordinance introduces a filing requirement in Section 12.36-B of the Code, requiring that all entitlements applications must be filed concurrently for projects to benefit from the multiple approvals procedure provisions. For non-subdivision approvals, the ordinance applies only to those applications filed concurrently for approvals reasonably related and necessary to complete the project. This language intends to stop applicants from "piece-mealing" projects by granting the streamlined hearing, appeal, and expiration provisions to projects only when all applications are filed concurrently.
Clarifies and Coordinates Procedure
The Multiple Approvals Ordinance organizes the entitlements process by the initial decision-maker rather than case type. Section 12.36-C of the Code establishes a hierarchy of decision-makers and consolidates the review and approvals for a project within one decision-maker. When multiple approvals are required from more than one agency, the specific application type and combination of required approvals determine which agency will be the decision-maker. For example, the Multiple Approvals Ordinance provides that if a project requires approval by the Zoning Administrator or the Director of Planning as the initial decision-maker and also requires approval by the City Planning Commission as the initial decision-maker, then the City Planning Commission will be the initial decision-maker for all approvals and recommendations required for that project. Once the initial decision-maker is determined, the Multiple Approvals Ordinance then sets forth the applicable set of review procedures based on the type of approval required. To this end, the ordinance defines the types of approvals (i.e., legislative approval, quasi-judicial approval and subdivision approval) in order to identify which agency will be the initial decision-maker and which approval procedures under the Code will apply to all approvals for that project. Any project requiring multiple approvals and a subdivision approval will be processed by the Advisory Agency.
Establishes Uniform Expiration Dates
As amended by the Multiple Approvals Ordinance, Section 12.25 of the Code establishes a uniform expiration period of three years for any entitlement not utilized within that time period, unless approval of the entitlement is granted as a part of a project requiring multiple approvals (in which case the new multiple approvals procedure provisions under Section 12.36 will govern). This uniform expiration period applies to all entitlements granted by the Zoning Administrator, Director of Planning, an Area Planning Commission, or the City Planning Commission, as the initial decision-maker.
Section 12.25-A.3(b) should be of particular interest to developers with ongoing projects or conditionally-approved entitlements. This Section now automatically extends the expiration dates for any existing approvals granted by the Zoning Administrator, Director of Planning, an Area Planning Commission, or the City Planning Commission having effective dates between July 15, 2005, and December 31, 2010. These extensions may be two to five years depending on the effective date of the underlying approval.
Entitlements Approved in Conjunction with Other Approvals
The Multiple Approvals Ordinance synchronizes the expiration dates of entitlements granted in conjunction with other types of approvals. Quasi-judicial approvals, such as conditional use permits, granted in conjunction with legislative approvals will now expire with the legislative approval (not to exceed six years unless otherwise extended under Section 12.25).
Another useful revision for developers is Section 12.36-G, which synchronizes the expiration dates of entitlements granted in conjunction with a subdivision approval. Under the Multiple Approvals Ordinance, quasi-judicial approvals granted in conjunction with a subdivision approval will be extended for the life of the subdivision approval, including local discretionary extensions and extensions by amendment to the California Subdivision Map Act. Legislative approvals granted in conjunction with a subdivision approval will be extended for the life of the subdivision approval, including any local discretionary extensions.
Subdivision Map Act
Finally, the Multiple Approvals Ordinance also amends Section 17.07-A of the Code to properly implement the tentative tract map extensions under Sections 66452.21, 66452.22 and 66452.23 of the California Subdivision Map Act, which provide automatic extensions of up to two years for approved or conditionally-approved tentative tract maps set to expire between July 15, 2008, and January 1, 2014.
SIGNIFICANCE TO DEVELOPERS
If a developer or other applicant for multiple approvals can file for all approvals at the same time, then the Multiple Approvals Ordinance may create more consistency in the entitlements process and save time and resources by eliminating redundant procedures. Moreover, the synchronization of extensions and expiration periods may provide more certainty as to the life of certain entitlements and help developers create manageable development schedules.
If you have any questions or comments concerning this Legal Update, please free to contact us:
Fernando Villa, Esq.
Shelby Q. McMahon, Esq.
Pircher, Nichols & Meeks
1925 Century Park East, Suite 1700
Los Angeles, California 90067
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