Supervisors Seek Revisions to Process for Amending General Plan

RIVERSIDE – The Riverside County Board of Supervisors today directed county staff to refine the process for bringing proposed general plan amendments forward so developers have some idea ahead of time whether their project will even be considered for approval.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff Stone said revisions to the General Plan Initiation Process, or GPIP, were overdue.

”We need a better screening apparatus to make sure that before a developer invests money in a project, we have a concept of what they’re trying to do,” Stone said. ”We need a process that’s less expensive, less onerous and more streamlined.”

Stone said he has seen a number of instances in which developers went ahead with a project in an unincorporated area, believing modifications to the area’s general plan, which provides guidelines intended to keep growth within reasonable limits, would not be a problem — only to have their enterprise delayed or stopped because of a conflict with county priorities.

”Developers can spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars,” Stone said. ”It’s not right to penalize developers.”

Citing a Riverside County Planning Commission letter, Stone requested that GPIP undergo an overhaul, which the board approved in a 4-0 vote.

Key changes sought by Stone include:

— requiring a developer to meet with the planning commissioner and supervisor from the district where the project is planned before filing a GPIP application to ascertain whether the endeavor has any chance of getting off the ground; and

— requiring a developer to deposit sufficient funds — typically less than $1,000 — for planning department staff to conduct a preliminary land study to ensure that sufficient information is gathered for commissioners and board members to confidently judge the value and appropriateness of the proposal.

Temecula resident Paul Jacobs said changes to GPIP will do little to nothing to prevent ”more traffic and other impacts from development” from happening.

”The board is likely to streamline things only for the benefit of developers,” Jacobs said. ”Protecting the rights of property owners is not the policy of this board. This should be called the ‘General Plan Ignoring Process.”’

The board directed the planning department and the Office of County Counsel to complete changes to the GPIP application process within 90 days, after which the board will hold at least one public hearing before deciding whether to implement the proposed revisions.

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