Government

Supervisors Vote to Keep Community Planning Groups Unchanged

Saying community planning advisory groups provide valuable input to the County’s land-use process, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to keep the groups unchanged.

Saying community planning advisory groups provide valuable input to the County’s land-use process, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday to keep the groups unchanged.

The Board did vote to increase training for the current and future members of the County’s 26 community planning advisory groups to increase their effectiveness.

Supervisors also directed land-use staff to return in the future with a plan to combine and re-organize the County’s multiple land use departments into one new organization and to convene a group to re-examine one of the County’s environmental ordinances, the Resource Protection Ordinance.

All of the actions were taken as the Board considered recommendations made last year by a special task force created to find ways to cut “red tape” in the County’s land use and development process. The Board previously directed County staff to begin implementing several other task force recommendations Feb. 29.

The task force made dozens of recommendations, including eliminating the community planning advisory groups, or limiting the types of development projects they could review and imposing term limits on their elected members.

Those suggestions drew a large crowd of planning advisory group chairpersons, members and people from unincorporated communities to Wednesday’s meeting. They told supervisors that the groups were important eyes and ears who provided valuable insight into their communities.

Supervisors agreed.

“Planning groups are not red tape, but an integral part of the planning process,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, echoing the testimony of many of the speakers.

Supervisors also voted to direct County staff to:

  • Return with details for a plan to create a “continuous improvement program” for the new land-use department.
  • Return with options and details for how a performance review committee could be created to review land-use performance.
  • Continue to work with development industry and other stakeholders to identify opportunities to allow private licensed professionals “self-certify” their work without County review.

Some of the recommendations the Board ordered land use staff to immediately implement at its Feb. 29 meeting included:

  • 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.
  • Continue to shift as many types of projects as possible from needing discretionary approval to “ministerial” approval — from needing the permission of the County Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors to simply requiring less formal and time-consuming approval or building permits.
  • Eliminate introducing new project requirements late in the permitting process.
Gig Conaughton is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact