California’s Governor Newsom has announced that later in May 2023 he will unveil permit reform recommendations to streamline the process to approve energy, water, and transportation infrastructure. We will be watching for this. We welcome suggestions to make our proposed examples of permit reform as effective as possible.

Here is a summary of reforms we propose:

1 – Limit the number of hearings on a project, and require hearings to take place within 30 days for the previous hearing. Agencies that don’t want to approve a project but also don’t want to get sued by the developer, instead of denying a project will ask for modifications. The developer may have the modifications ready within a few weeks, but the next hearing may not be scheduled for another year, and when that hearing arrives, the agency will ask for additional modifications, repeating the delay yet another year.

2 – Require impact fees for any development to be placed in specific impact accounts to prevent agencies from using the proceeds for other budget items. If the impact fees are not spent, return them to the project developer.

3 – If impact fees are being charged to housing developers and they are not used within two years, they shall be returned to the homeowners, and the property tax basis for the homes shall be lowered by the amount of the refunded fees.

4 – Once a project permit is granted, no new impact fees can be added.

5 – If building codes or environmental regulations are changed, they shall not apply to projects that have already been approved.

6 – Building codes and environmental regulations shall not be changed more than once every five years.

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