Government

Supervisors Move to Improve Land Use Process

The Board of Supervisors unanimously directed the County’s Land Use and Environment Group Wednesday to start putting into effect 17 recommendations made by a Red Tape Reduction Task Force to reduce permit processing times and cost.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously directed the County’s Land Use and Environment Group Wednesday to start putting into effect 17 recommendations made by a Red Tape Reduction Task Force to reduce permit processing times and cost.

The Board also directed the land use group to evaluate a couple of dozen other recommendations made by the task force, including suggestions revolving around community planning advisory groups, and to return to the Board for further discussion and action March 28.

The recommendations came from the Red Tape Reduction Task Force that the Board established in April 2011.

The task force’s seven members were appointed by the Board and the group met twice a month between April and November.

The recommendations that the land use group will begin putting into effect now fit into seven different categories, ranging from improving land use procedures and training, to tweaking organizational structures and changing how planners measure success.

Some of the recommendations included:

  • Establishing an external “Audit Committee” to review and report to the Board how the land use group are implementing the Service First Initiative, a previous report aimed at improving the permitting process.
  • Develop a group wide “sense of urgency” to speed up the permitting process, and encourage County staff who embrace that philosophy.
  • Empower County project managers to make planning decisions on projects.
  • Establish training and mentoring for group staff members.
  • Continue to shift as many types of projects as possible from needing discretionary approval to “ministerial” approval — from needing the permission of the County Board of Supervisors or Planning Commission to simply requiring less formal and time-consuming approval or building permits.
  • Eliminate introducing new project requirements late in the permitting process.
  • Measure employee performance by how quickly projects move through processing rather than how employees finish individual processing tasks.
  • Establish ongoing customer service training for employees.
  • Assign project managers to individual projects early in the permitting process and keep them in charge until those projects complete the process.
Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact