Until now, there wasn’t any objective understanding of the system by which the city decides where and what can be built around San Diego. Discussion around the system has been entirely anecdotal. But after a sustained push from Voice of San Diego, the city has released records from its permitting system. We’re using the newly released data to get solid answers to basic questions, and see what else we can learn about the city in the process.
Developers are getting permits faster than at any point in the last 10 years, but it’s not clear what’s driving the change.
City leaders would love to take credit, but even those in charge of the city’s Development Services Department recognize there’s more to it than that.
The drastic drop in permitting times coincided with the recession. It also coincided with a new outline for where and how the city should grow in the future, and some modest changes to development restrictions.
The collapse of the real estate market, which made developers wary of pursuing ambitious projects and of pushing to get projects approved, played a big role, and the city’s bureaucratic fine-tuning could have helped too.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
The process is speeding up because every more Developers want to get their permits in before many of San Diego's Community Plans get changed/updated which hopefully will close many of the DENSITY "loopholes" that are now being exploited.
This is yet another reason that the City is dragging their feet by making sure that Community Plan Updates take "forever" to get finalized/approved, all under the guise of "getting everything perfect" which is a huge make work project that insures that City Staff are kept busy and employed!
@Founder Updating a community plan is no small feat. Years of analysis (by staff and outside consultants), lobbying (by developers and community members), negotiation (between all of the above as well as the Council), multiple hearings (before community planning groups, the Planning Commission, and the Council), and legal challenges do not equate to a conspiracy to keep Development Services staffers employed. The process does that job well enough on its own. Remove any of the legs from this table and some constituency will be upset or the update may be flawed.
Community plans do not close density loopholes. They provide direction for an area's development based off the principles of the City's general plan and the zoning therein. In fact, a community plan cannot alter density from what is prescribed in a general plan without requiring an amendment of the latter.
Developers generally seek the discretionary permits Andy refers to in this series of articles when they wish to go beyond the bounds of a community plan (or some other restriction). Given that new general and community plans must account for a growing population, and thus permit higher densities in newer iterations, attempting to get an application in while an old plan is in place does nothing to improve a project's outlook.
There are ways of seeking density increases, for instance rezoning (aka upzoning) a property or utilizing the State Density Bonus legislation. These and other methodologies are baked into our current form of urban planning. Not much change is visible on the horizon.
What you have said is certainly an "overview" of what is happening but the reality is that Developers are now using OLD Community Planing rules info to push projects into neighborhoods that should not belong there. DENSITY bonuses are yet another vehicle that can increase projects heights far beyond what those that wrote the old Community Plans ever dreamed would possible.
RE: "a growing population" this is yet another vehicle that is being used to slam DENSITY/GROWTH into some areas while completely skipping other areas, which is why I have been pushing for DIVERSITY in San Diego's housing stock with all neighborhoods having an equal share of Low and Low-Moderate housing, not just the areas along "transportation corridors", which just happen to be in older neighborhoods which also have the least infrastructure and social amenities which never seem to get built despite neighborhoods being promised by all those pushing DENSITY.
North Park was promised many improvements when it became one to the "City of Villages" but got more housing increases but the improvements never appeared.
Build the needed parks and amenities FIRST then housing...