Temecula tweaks process for some permit revocations, other sections of municipal code

Temecula City Council members vote on changes to the city’s municipal code, including processes for revoking some land use permits, at the council’s Sept. 22 meeting. Valley News/city of Temecula photo

The Temecula City Council approved four changes to the city’s municipal code, Tuesday, Sept. 22, including processes for revoking land use permits.

In a presentation to the city council before its vote on the matter, Brandon Rabidou, associate planner for Temecula, said staff worked with the city attorney’s office to address “antiquated portions” of the municipal code.

The city will now allow the director of Community Development to revoke temporary use permits and home occupation permits. Temporary use permits are issued for property uses of “special, unique or limited duration” and home occupation permits allow the use of residences for business purposes.

Previously, those permits could only be revoked by the planning commission or city council, although the director of community development is responsible for issuing them. Allowing the director to revoke them, Rabidou said, would streamline the process in case of any issues or complaints.

“For example, if you’ve got a temporary use permit currently, they’re approved by the director and they typically last a few days, and if we do have an issue with the temporary use permit we do need the ability to revoke these permits,” Rabidou said.

As an example in which a home occupation permit may need to be revoked, Rabidou said, “If someone started a dog walking business and it turned into a dog kennel, that is where that permit is no longer under that home occupation realm.”

Appeals of decisions to revoke those kinds of permits would still come before the planning commission or city council.

“This expedites the ability to deal with time sensitive issues, but any appeals would still come before the planning commission,” Rabidou said.

The city will also now require an independent hearing officer to oversee revocation processes for conditional use permits, development plans and similar permits, rather than leaving the planning commission with that responsibility.

“We would update the process to remove some of the highly technical requirements for the revocation process from the planning commission,” Rabidou said.

He said the independent hearing officer would be an “experienced judge or retired hearing officer” who would preside over the initial revocation hearing.

According to a city staff report, the “planning commission would then review the independent hearing officer’s determination to either revoke, modify, or impose additional conditions on the permit, after holding a public hearing. The planning commission would be charged with deciding whether to confirm, modify or overturn the Independent hearing officer’s decision. The city council would still maintain the ability to review any revocation appeals for conditional use permits, development plans and other entitlements.”

The third change to the municipal code adds floor area to the description of major and minor modifications, which will require projects that add interior floor area – Rabidou gave mezzanines as an example – to go through the city’s modification process.

“This is necessary to ensure that projects comply with various development standards, including, but not limited to, parking, floor area ratio, and outside agency requirements,” according to the city staff report.

Lastly, areas of the municipal code referencing “secondary dwelling units” will be changed to “accessory dwelling units” to maintain consistency with a recently adopted accessory dwelling unit ordinance.

The council unanimously approved the updates.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.