Supervisors forms committee to examine good, bad in permitting process

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County supervisors voted unanimously today to form an ad hoc committee to conduct a top-down examination of the county’s permitting and planning processes and determine how to make them leaner and faster for individuals and businesses with projects.
Supervisors Jeff Hewitt and Kevin Jeffries brought the proposal forward, asking that they be named as principals on the temporary committee, which seeks to complete its business by the end of the year. The full Board of Supervisors supported the appointments.
“With stringent environmental rules, safety standards and liability exposure, planning and permitting processes in California are inherently complicated,” the supervisors wrote in documents posted to the board’s agenda. “Whether one tries to build a pool, garage, home or small business, there are a range of rules and permits that must be received.”
They acknowledged that state and regional requirements often cannot be amended to lessen applicants’ burdens, but “there are certainly ways to improve the process within Riverside County.”
The committee intends to delve into streamlining and uniformity, specifically from one agency to another, including the county Building & Safety Department, Department of Environmental Health, Department of Planning, Fire Department and Flood Control & Water Conservation District.
Improved training for front counter staff in each agency will be among the topics tackled, and the committee will also re-examine potentially establishing a permanent ombudsman who can answer applicants’ questions and steer them to the correct agencies to handle whatever issues arise.
“Improving the planning and permitting processes in Riverside County would help reduce expenses and delays for both residents and businesses,” the supervisors stated.
The committee’s meeting schedule has not been determined.