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Faulconer touts faster permit process

Faulconer touts faster permit process

By DEAN CALBREATH, The Daily Transcript
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Wednesday suggested that the city needs to offer more tax incentives to attract and retain businesses, and hailed the City Council's 7-2 approval of the One Paseo project as a sign that City Hall is eager to work with developers.

Speaking to the local chapter of NAIOP, a national commercial real estate development association, Faulconer added that his administration has been speeding up the permitting process through adding evening and weekend hours for city staffers to handle permits, allowing some permit applications to be processed online and setting up a self-certification process for some applicants.

"The culture has tended to be for people not to make a decision [on an application], but instead to kick it upstairs, downstairs or sideways," he said. "We just have to encourage people to make a decision."

Faulconer said one of his goals is to give permit applicants a firmer timeline for when their projects might be approved.

"Instead of saying, 'Sorry, we just don't know. Maybe it'll take a year, maybe more,' we want to tell them, 'We think this will take around four months' or 'It might take up to six months.'"

He said some permit applicants still might not like the amount of time that permit processing takes, but at least they'll have a firmer idea for how long it will last, so they can plan accordingly.

Faulconer said the City Council's approval of One Paseo, a 23.6-acre project in Carmel Valley involving roughly 600 units of homes, shops, offices and restaurants, would "set the tone for future developments" in the city. But he attributed the success of the project to the grassroots and lobbying work done by its developer, Kilroy Realty(NYSE: KRC).

"You can look at the time Kilroy spent interacting with the community and the City Council as an example of how to get things done," he said.

Faulconer said the Encanto neighborhood in the southeastern part of San Diego offers similar opportunities for developers hoping to break ground on greenfield sites. Just last week, he and City Councilmember Myrtle Cole, who represents Encanto, led around 80 developers, builders and financiers through developable sites in the neighborhood, on a bus tour sponsored by Kilroy and Sudberry Properties, among others.

Faulconer said he has been encouraging neighborhoods to speed up their work on community plans, partly so developers can have a clearer picture of what type of projects the neighborhoods are hoping to attract. He said the long-awaited community plan for Kearny Mesa should be ready by the time he submits his proposed annual budget to the City Council in May.

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