This editorial from the San Francisco Examiner discusses why the planning system is not public-friendly, and by reducing public hearing and reporting requirements, the process will be less intimidating to the public.
"Open meetings to provide a channel for hearing public concerns are a necessary part of any construction approval process. Otherwise there would undoubtedly be much greater risk of private property being seized in questionable eminent domain procedures, or for highly unsuitable developments to be built despite the objections of neighbors."
"But a built-in problem with this procedure is that citizens who like a new proposal have little motivation to continue in the discussion because urban planning is so tedious and confusing. This leaves only vociferous opponents motivated enough to participate for the long term."
"An article by the San Francisco Planning & Urban Research Association think tank includes several straightforward procedural changes that could help update the system from 'a tired 19th-century relic, more meaningful as a ritual than useful as a tool.' For example, city's could use the reasonable policy of not requiring costly and time-consuming environmental impact reports for small, fill-in residential projects of fewer than 100 units."