Division 2
REVIEW PROCEDURES

Chapter 17.20
GENERAL REVIEW PROCEDURES

17.20.010 Review Procedures

A.    Land use applications will be reviewed and approved in accordance with three basic procedures:

1.    Public hearing by the City Council and/or Planning Commission, in which the reviewing authority invites public testimony for and against the land use proposal, reviews evidence and renders its decision.

2.    Public hearing by the Hearing Officer, in which the Planning Director or his or her designee conducts a public hearing and invites public testimony for and against the land use proposal, reviews evidence and renders his/her decision.

3.    Administrative Review, used when land use decisions are made based upon standards that have been adopted by the City as law or policy. The reviewing authority shall be the Planning Director, or his or her designee. The reviewing authority may render a land use decision without giving notice to surrounding property owners and other parties. However, where deemed necessary, the reviewing authority may require that notice be provided to contiguous property owners.

B.    Review procedures for each application type are specified in Chapters 17.21 through 17.28 PMC.

17.20.020 Notification Procedures

A.    Public notice sign of submitted application

1.    Requirement for a Public Notice Sign. The Planning Director may require that at such time as an application requiring a public hearing has been filed and deemed complete, a public notice sign or signs be posted at the project site. The purpose of the sign notice requirement is to notify the community and the residents in the affected area of the proposed development early in the review process, allowing an opportunity for public input during the initial stages of project review. At a minimum, the sign shall state the application file number, a description of the proposed use (including square footage), the area of the project site, the current zoning and any proposed zone change, and any other pertinent information needed to clearly convey the nature of the proposed project.

2.    Sign criteria and maintenance. The following rules and standards shall apply to required public notice signs:

a.    Sign size and specifications. All public notice sign(s) shall be four feet by eight feet (4' x 8') in size and be constructed to the specifications of Figure 17.2.20.2. The specific project information text on the sign shall be provided by the Planning Department.

b.    Location and installation standards. All public notice sign(s) shall be installed according to the specifications of Figure 17.2.20.1. The location for the sign(s) on the project site shall be determined by the Planning Director.

c.    Sign removal and maintenance. All public notice sign(s) must be kept adequately maintained and remain in place until the final decision on the application has been made or the application is withdrawn. All sign(s) shall be removed by the applicant within fourteen (14) days of the final decision or date of withdrawal. Failure to remove the sign within the prescribed period may result in removal and forfeiture of the sign to the City, with the cost of removal and storage to be paid by the applicant.

B.    Notice of land use decisions

1.    General provisions

a.    Notice shall be given by first class mail or delivery to all surrounding property owners for land use decisions using the Public Hearing procedures as described in this Section.

b.    Notice shall be given by first class mail to any person who has filed a written request for such notice.

FIGURE 17.2.20.1
SPECIFICATIONS FOR PUBLIC NOTICE SIGNS

FIGURE 17.2.20.2
INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS FOR PUBLIC NOTICE SIGNS

c.    When the notification procedures for applications as specified in this Chapter permit decisions with limited notice, notice shall be given by first class mail or delivery to all contiguous property owners.

d.    Notice shall be given in the case of a conversion of residential real property to a condominium project, community apartment project or stock cooperative, pursuant to State law.

e.    Notice may be given in such other manner as is required by State law or deemed necessary or desirable by the Planning Department.

f.    Said notice shall include information about the proposal, the project site, the hearing, the environmental review process, and proposed findings pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, including but not limited to the date, time, and place of the public hearing, the identity of the hearing body or officer, a general description of the matter to be considered, a general description, in text or by diagram, of the location of the real property (if any) that is the subject of the hearing, and whether a Negative Declaration or Environmental Impact Report has been prepared.

g.    “Surrounding property,” for the purposes of this Section, shall be defined as those properties that fall within a radius drawn from the nearest limits of the property that is the subject of the land use application, as follows:

(i)    If the subject property is twenty (20) acres or less in size, all properties within a five hundred (500) feet radius shall be notified.

(ii)    If the subject property is greater than twenty (20) acres but less than one hundred sixty (160) acres in size, all properties within a seven hundred (700) foot radius shall be notified.

(iii)    If the subject property is greater than one hundred sixty (160) acres in size, all properties within a one thousand (1,000) foot radius shall be notified.

(iv)    The Planning Director may expand the surrounding property notice requirement if deemed necessary to include all properties potentially affected by the application.

h.    “Contiguous property,” for the purpose of this Section, shall be defined as those properties which touch property lines of any parcel that is the subject of a land use decision, including those properties which touch said property lines of the subject parcel when projected across public or private rights-of-way easements.

i.    A one-eighth page display advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation within the City may be substituted for individual property owner notice, whenever the individual notice would require notification of one thousand (1,000) or more property owners.

2.    Public hearing notification

At least ten (10) days before the required public hearing on a land use decision, the Planning Director shall cause notice of the time and place of the public hearing on the project to be given in the following manner:

a.    Notice shall be published once in a newspaper of general circulation within the City for land use approvals requiring a public hearing, if such a newspaper has been legally adjudicated for this purpose.

b.    Notice shall be posted at least ten (10) days prior to the public hearing in at least three (3) public places.

c.    The public notice sign(s) required under subsection A of this Section shall indicate the public hearing date and shall remain on the subject site a minimum of ten (10) days prior to the hearing.

d.    Additional public notification beyond the boundaries specified in subsection (B)(1)(g) of this Section may be required for a development related project as determined by the Planning Director in any one of the following circumstances:

(i)    The proposed development is a residential infill project with a higher intensity land use than that of the existing neighborhood; or,

(ii)    The proposed development is an infill project which requires a General Plan amendment; or,

(iii)    The development is a proposed infill project which requires an EIR; or,

(iv)    As determined to be necessary and desirable by the Planning Director based on the nature of the proposed project. For large projects, the Planning Director may determine that more than one sign is necessary.

e.    In determining the boundaries of an expanded notification area, the following criteria shall be used:

(i)    The expanded area may be directly affected by the proposed project due to proposed or established circulation, drainage patterns, view, grading, or other environmental or infrastructural conditions; or

(ii)    The expanded area is an integral part of the affected neighborhood or subdivision.

f.    If it is determined upon initial submittal that supplemental notification is necessary, the applicant shall be notified within thirty (30) days, as part of the City’s Notice of Complete Application, of expanded notification area to be included in the mailings, and shall be required to submit three (3) sets of gummed address labels based on the latest equalized tax assessors rolls for the expanded area. The application shall not be deemed complete until the labels have been submitted.

17.20.030 Pre-Application Conference

A.    The Planning Department may request that an applicant submit materials for and attend a pre-application conference to review the development proposal prior to acceptance of the application. The purpose of this conference is to acquaint the City with the intentions of the applicant, to acquaint the applicant with any applicable policies and procedures, to identify City Codes and improvement standards applicable to the proposal, and to identify any significant development opportunities and/or constraints on the site.

B.    The pre-application conference shall include an exchange of information concerning the entire area intended by the applicant to be developed, even if such development is intended to proceed by stages, whether or not applications for review of the entire project area are made at the time of the initial application.

C.    Application for a pre-application conference shall be made at the Planning Department, and shall be accompanied by the appropriate fee as adopted by the City Council. The applicant shall submit development plans and or other applicable materials, showing proposed land use types, areas and locations. The conceptual development plan and/or materials shall include sufficient information about the proposal to permit evaluation of the development issues identified in this Section.

D.    The pre-application conference shall address, but not be limited to, the following subject matter:

1.    Subject parcel: Its size, location, dimensions and area; any existing improvements or development on site; existing General Plan and zoning designations;

2.    Proposed development project: Uses proposed for the site; type and placement of buildings and other improvements;

3.    Characteristics of the project site and vicinity: Existing and proposed land use designations and development on adjacent parcels; any identified natural or man-made hazards on site or in the vicinity;

4.    Proposed circulation improvements, both on and off-site: Access points and vehicular accessways, parking, loading, and pedestrian circulation; location, width and existing and proposed improvements on adjacent roadways;

5.    Public improvements: Type, location and sizes of public facilities likely to be required to support the proposal, including utilities, sewer, water and drainage, along with a plan for providing and maintaining improvements;

6.    Open space: Location, amount, type and method of maintenance for proposed open space and landscaped areas; and

7.    Community service impacts: Estimated impacts on public services, including schools, parks, fire and police protection, and solid waste disposal.

17.20.040 Development Applications

A.    Scope. Applications for all land use decisions shall be made at the Planning Department on forms available from the Department. Each application for a land use decision shall be accompanied by such information and materials deemed necessary by the Department to render the requested land use decision. All applications shall comply with all applicable procedures of this Section and be consistent with the following:

1.    Any application made under the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance may be initiated by the City Council, or by any person who has a legal interest in the property which is the subject of the application unless otherwise indicated in this Zoning Ordinance.

2.    All land use decisions that are subject to the California Environmental Quality Act shall be reviewed by the Planning Department.

3.    When more than one (1) land use decision is required for a single project, all applications shall be filed concurrently, unless otherwise approved by the Planning Director.

4.    The Planning Department shall prepare written guidelines that set forth detailed procedures for the review of each application type, and which outline the information and materials required for each application. Any application for a land use decision that does not meet the requirements set forth in the applicable guidelines may be deemed incomplete or not accepted for filing.

B.    Application fees and deposits. Concurrent with the submittal of an application for development, a fee and/or deposit shall be made, in the amount determined by City Council resolution, to cover the cost incurred in the processing of the application(s).

17.20.050 Time Limitations for Application Acceptance

The following time limits are established for accepting land use applications as complete, unless otherwise required or authorized by applicable law.

A.    Not later than thirty (30) days after the City has received an application for a development project, the City shall determine, in writing, whether the submitted application materials are complete, and shall immediately transmit such determination to the applicant.

Upon receipt of any resubmittal of the application, a new thirty (30) day time period shall begin during which the City shall determine the completeness of the application. If the application together with these submitted materials are determined not to be complete, the applicant may appeal the decision to require additional information to the Planning Commission, as provided for in PMC 17.20.110.

B.    The Planning Director or his/her designee and the applicant may mutually agree to a reasonable extension of these time limits, as permitted by State law.

17.20.060 Denial of Incomplete Applications

A.    The applicant shall supply the requested plans and/or information within sixty (60) calendar days of the notice of incomplete filing.

B.    In the event an application is deemed incomplete and the applicant fails to provide required information within the time limits specified herein, the City shall notify the applicant, in writing, that said application may be scheduled for a public hearing and denied unless the application is deemed complete or formally withdrawn within ten (10) calendar days. Information whose absence would constitute a reason for such a denial includes:

1.    Information which is to be supplied by the applicant and is necessary to prepare a legally adequate environmental document;

2.    Information without which the City’s decision to approve a project would not be supported by substantial evidence.

C.    Denial for the above reasons may be deemed by the City to be a denial without prejudice.

17.20.070 Time Limits for Rendering Land Use Decisions

The following time limits are established for rendering land use decisions, unless otherwise required or authorized by applicable law.

A.    Except for legislative acts of the City Council, the City shall render its decision on a land use application within the following time limits unless otherwise required or authorized by applicable law:

1.    If a Negative Declaration is prepared, or if the project is exempt pursuant to the Public Resources Code, the project shall be approved or disapproved within the time limits set forth by California Government Code Section 65950, as amended from time to time except as provided in subsection (A)(3) of this Section.

2.    If an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is prepared, the project shall be approved or disapproved within the time limits set forth by California Government Code Section 65950, as amended from time to time, except as provided in subsection (A)(3) of this Section.

3.    Should compelling circumstances justify additional time to complete the environmental review process, an extension of time may be granted by the Planning Department, if the project applicant requests or consents to such an extension, subject to the applicable provisions of State law and the City’s adopted CEQA Guidelines.

4.    The Planning Commission shall approve, conditionally approve, extend, or disapprove a tentative map or minor subdivision plot plan of a proposed subdivision within the legal time limits established by the Subdivision Map Act. These time limits or any other time limits for reporting and acting on maps as specified in the Title 16 PMC (Subdivisions) or any other applicable adopted ordinance, policy or code, may be extended by mutual consent of the subdivider and the Planning Department. Upon consent of the subdivider, a waiver of any of these time limits may be obtained for the purpose of permitting concurrent processing of related land use applications, or an environmental review on the same development project or subdivision.

B.    When a land use application decision is contingent on approval of another application which requires legislative action, such as a general plan amendment or zone change, the time limits specified by this Section for acting on such a land use application shall commence on the effective date of the last such legislative action on which that land use application is contingent.

17.20.080 Decisions by Reviewing Authority

A.    A reviewing authority may refer a request for a land use decision to the reviewing authority designated as the appeal body for that type of land use application. In such cases, a statement containing the reasons for referring the land use decisions shall be prepared by the referring authority.

B.    Prior to rendering a land use decision, the reviewing authority shall address each of the required findings or criteria that apply to the application type as described in this Division. Evidence or testimony shall be given to substantiate the reviewing authority’s determination on each of the findings applicable to the case being considered, and shall be specifically cited in the action taken by the reviewing authority.

C.    From time to time, development actions may be continued. Where such continuances are requested by the applicant, the City may require payment of fees as specified by City Council resolution, to reimburse costs reasonably borne for such continuance of the public hearing.

D.    The reviewing authority may take an action of denial without prejudice on a land use application. Such action shall allow the applicant to reapply for the same permit immediately upon the effective date of the decision unless otherwise specified in the Zoning Ordinance.

E.    In approving an application for a land use decision, the reviewing authority may establish reasonable conditions to its approval that are found to be necessary to protect the public health, safety and general welfare.

17.20.090 Effective Date of Land Use Decisions

A.    Ordinances approving land use decisions shall become effective thirty (30) days after the second reading of the ordinance, unless otherwise specified within the ordinance.

B.    Land use decisions made at a public hearing shall be effective on the eleventh day after the decision date, except when the tenth such day is not a City business day. In such circumstances, the land use decision shall become effective on the second consecutive City business day following such tenth day.

C.    Land use decisions made by administrative action shall become effective on the eleventh day after the written notice of the land use decision has been deposited in the U. S. mail, except when the tenth such day is not a City business day. In such instances, the land use decision shall become effective on the second consecutive City business day following such tenth day.

D.    Notwithstanding the provisions of this Section, land use decisions which are made contingent upon approval of a legislative action, such as a general plan amendment or zone change, shall become effective on the date when the approval of the last such application to which they are subject becomes effective.

17.20.100 Modifications to Land Use Approvals

Minor modifications to the approved site plan or the conditions of approval for a development project may be approved by the Planning Director through an application for a Minor Modification, pursuant to PMC 17.26.0400. However, should the Planning Director determine that the modification(s) may have significant impacts on the project site or surrounding properties, the Planning Director may require submittal of an application and approval of a Major Modification to the original project approval. In the latter case, the review procedures for the requested modification(s) shall be those which were applicable to the project when originally reviewed.

17.20.110 Appeal Procedures

A.    Prior to its effective date, any land use decision made in accordance with the provisions of this Zoning Ordinance by a reviewing authority other than the City Council, may be appealed by the applicant, a member of the City Council, or any other person as follows: (Zoning Ordinance Amendment 97-2, adopted by City Council June 11, 1997.)

1.    The Planning Commission shall consider appeals regarding land use decisions made by the Planning Director.

2.    The Planning Commission may refer consideration of an appeal to the City Council, except for those decisions involving a variance, a determination as to the completeness of an application, or the requirement for preparation of an EIR.

3.    The City Council shall consider appeals regarding land use decisions made by the Planning Commission, except as specified above.

B.    Applications for an appeal of a land use decision, including an appeal filed by a member of the City Council, shall be made upon forms supplied by the reviewing authority to which the appeal is being made. All such applications for appeals shall be submitted to the Planning Department and shall be accompanied by a written statement of the grounds upon which the appeal is based. A uniform fee, as established by the City Council, shall be paid at the time the appeal is filed. (Zoning Ordinance Amendment 97-2, adopted by City Council June 11, 1997.)

C.    An appeal of a land use decision must be filed prior to the date on which such land use decision becomes effective, as specified in PMC 17.20.090. A properly filed application for appeal stays proceedings in the matter appealed until a decision is rendered on the appeal.

D.    Within thirty (30) days of the acceptance of an application for an appeal of a land use decision (except where otherwise provided in the State Subdivision Map Act), the Planning Director or City Clerk shall establish a hearing date and shall give notice of the date, time and place of the hearing to the appellant, the applicant, and to any other party who has requested in writing to be so notified. In addition, notice shall also be given in the same manner as notice was given for the land use decision being appealed.

E.    Any member of the City Council who appeals a land use decision made in accordance with the provisions of this Zoning Ordinance to the City Council shall abstain from participating as a member of the City Council in the appeal hearing and decision, but may provide written or oral testimony on the matter to the City Council in the same manner as, and in the time provided for, members of the general public. (Zoning Ordinance Amendment 97-2, adopted by City Council June 11, 1997.)

F.    Upon hearing the appeal, the appeal body shall consider the record and such additional evidence as may be offered, and may affirm, reverse or modify, in whole or in part, the order, requirements, decision, determination, interpretation or ruling being appealed, or may make or substitute such other or additional decision or determination as it may find warranted under the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, or other applicable adopted City ordinance, resolution or standards. The appeal body is subject to all of the criteria and findings requirements imposed upon the original decision maker, including the requirements for environmental review. The appropriate authority shall forthwith transmit a copy of the decision to the applicant, appellant and, in the case of a City Council decision, to the City Planning Commission.

17.20.120 Approval Period for Conditional Land Use Decisions

Any conditional land use decision made in accordance with the provisions of this Zoning Ordinance shall be subject to the following time limitations:

A.    Unless all conditions have been complied with and the occupancy, use or division of land authorized by the land use decision has been inaugurated or been recorded within the time specified for each land use application type within this Zoning Ordinance, the land use decision shall become null and void. For the purposes of this Section, the term “inaugurated” shall mean that applicable grading and building permits have been issued, internal infrastructure installed, foundations poured, and above ground construction initiated and ongoing.

B.    Where circumstances warrant, the reviewing authority may grant an extension of time. The length of such extension shall be determined by the reviewing authority based on the limitation specified in this Division, but in no case shall a conditional land use decision be extended for a total approval period exceeding five (5) years unless otherwise provided by state law. The reviewing authority of an application for an extension of time of a previously approved development project shall be the authority which reviewed the original application, except where such application was approved on appeal. All requests for a time extension shall be submitted in complete form within ninety (90) days prior to the expiration date and be deemed complete by the City by the expiration date in accordance with PMC 17.20.050 and 17.20.060.

C.    Public projects shall not be subject to a time limitation unless specific time limits are included within conditions placed upon the project’s approval. When time limits are placed within the conditional approval of a public project, extensions of time may be granted whenever warranted, provided no single action is taken to grant an extension greater than twenty-four (24) months.

17.20.130 Pre-Construction Conference

A.    The City may request that a project applicant or developer attend a pre-construction conference prior to the submittal of construction and/or grading plans for a conditionally approved development project. The purpose of this conference is to acquaint the developer with the requirements, policies and procedures of the City, to identify special conditions of approval and/or mitigation measures which must be addressed at the construction stage, and to familiarize the City with anticipated construction schedules and personnel.

B.    Application for a pre-construction conference shall be made at the Planning Department, and shall be accompanied by the required fee as adopted by the City Council. The applicant may be required to submit materials at the time of application to facilitate review of construction related issues on the project.

17.20.140 Final Clearance

A.    No building, structure, or land shall be used or occupied, and no change in the existing occupancy classification or existing use of a building, structure, or land, or portion thereof, shall be made unless a Zoning Clearance is first obtained from the Planning Department, in addition to other required approvals, inspections, and certificates.

B.    New buildings

Final clearance from the Planning Department shall be granted only after such new buildings, enlargement, or alteration have been completed in conformity with the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance and with any approved site development plans and required conditions, and when the proposed use conforms to the Zoning Ordinance and any other applicable adopted City codes, resolutions, ordinances, or standards.

C.    Existing buildings and undeveloped land

Except as provided in Chapter 17.29 PMC (Non-Conforming Uses and Structures), final clearance from the Planning Department shall be granted for the re-use of an existing building or the use of undeveloped land only after the improvements for such building or land conform to the property development standards of the Zoning Ordinance and other applicable City ordinances, resolutions, codes, or standards. Such standards may include the provision of required walls, landscaping, parking, trash enclosures, street improvements, and all other improvements determined by the reviewing authority to be necessary or required by any regulating authority for the particular use.