Environmental leader criticizes streamlining effort as “abuse of authority.”
By Miriam Raftery
November 30, 2019 (San Diego) – The County Planning Commission will hold a workshop to discuss ways to streamline its discretionary permitting process on Friday, Dec. 13 at 9 a.m. at the County Operations Center conference hearing room, 5520 Overland Rd., San Diego, 92123.
The hearing was originally slated for Nov. 22 but postponed due to lack of a quorum. The new agenda can be found at the County Planning Commission webpage.
The workshop will cover the items identified by the Board of Supervisors (Board) on July 24, 2019, including self-certification, implementing permit and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) evaluation requirements, increasing final engineering flexibility, increasing opportunities to expand checklist exemptions to certain permit processes, implementing a project issue resolution process, and increasing coordination and accountability between departments. Planning & Development Services anticipates returning to the Board with recommendations in January 2020 as directed.
The workshop is open to the public and your participation and input is welcome on these subjects. If you wish to speak or register your opinion at the hearing for an item on the agenda, speaker slips are available in the rear of the hearing room and must be turned in prior to the item being called on the agenda. If you are unable to attend the workshop feel free to submit your comments directly to Mark Slovick at Mark.Slovick@sdcounty.ca.gov prior to the PC workshop or you can also submit them afterward prior to staff returning to the Board. If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact Mark Slovick directly or you can contact Michael Delarosa at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The streamlining proposal has prompted some opposition.
Duncan McFetridge, founder of two nonprofit groups, the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, and Save our Forest and Ranchlands, states, “Five recent lawsuits of regional significance against the county indicate that the ecological foundation of the county’s general plan is highly suspect. The CAP lawsuit, the Hoskings lawsuit, the Newland, Harmony Grove, and Otay law suit collectively indicate a broad indictment of region wide county resource protection standards. A key element in all of these lawsuits is the county’s abuse of authority.”
He adds, “If the lower Courts themselves have best described the county’s land use decision making as an “abuse of authority” and if the evidence shows that the plan is ecologically unsound, why would permit streamlining be advanced in the face of the irreversible ecological blowback that assaults us daily: fire, climate change, and resource scarcity? Should we not at least wait until final resolution of the CAP (Climate Action Plan ) Appellate case that has direct bearing on county wide population distribution and VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) reduction? With these thoughts in mind, permit streamlining at this critical time could also be considered as an ‘abuse of authority.’”
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