County to explain new site plan review process

By Karen Brainard

San Diego County’s new site plan review process, aimed at saving residents time and money, will be the focus of the Ramona Design Review Board’s Dec. 15 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Ramona Community Center, 434 Aqua Lane.

Representatives from RBF Consulting and the county will explain the new method developed for unincorporated communities, including Ramona, that are zoned with the “B” community design review special area designator.

Joe Farace, a planning manager with the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU), said the county has worked to “find ways to streamline the existing process which can be beneficial to customers.”

When residents in communities with a “B” designator want to construct or alter a building or structure, parking lot, or establish any outdoor commercial or industrial use, they must submit a site plan and application at the DPLU zoning counter.

Submittal of the “B” site plan applications requires an appointment with the zoning counter staff and usually includes a complete plot plan, architectural elevations, conceptual landscaping and grading plans, an environmental initial study, and a storm water management report.

Copies of the site plan application are sent to the community’s design review board and to public agencies for review and comment. This is followed by a decision from the DPLU planning director.

It is a process that can take six months to a year, said Farace. The new method will still involve the design review board but will convert the guidelines to a ministerial checklist that will ask questions requiring yes or no answers, he said.

The new process should shorten the application duration time to two to three months, Farace said, adding that the design review board will be involved by going through the checklist to stamp the project.

“We don’t’ want to cut them out of the loop,” said Farace.

If a project is too complicated, there will still be the option of a full site plan review.

“We’re not getting rid of that process,” he noted.

Farace said presentations of the new site plan review process have been given in Valley Center and Fallbrook and the residents “actually had really good comments and were receptive to the idea.”

   
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