Planning System Revamp May Speed Development in Santa Cruz

Bureaucratic red tape has slowed the development process for years in Santa Cruz, California. Now proposed changes look to speed up the process, but critics say the changes could open the door to under-controlled development.

"For the first time in decades, planners are looking to address complaints about the red tape that has long stood between property owners and their residential construction endeavors, like home additions and secondary units. But a handful of environmental leaders, buoyed by some elected officials, have greeted proposals to modify the residential code with concern that the changes won't just streamline the planning process but will abet new development."

"'The amendments could create thousands of new housing units in the county, in the hills,' said Aldo Giacchino, chair of the Santa Cruz County chapter of the Sierra Club. That, he fears, would put added pressure on local water supplies, roads and wildlife."

"The threat of legal action by the Sierra Club and concerns raised by local water agencies have put county planners on the defensive during six months of public and private discussions."

"'We're not necessarily retreating,' said Planning Director Tom Burns. 'Our job is to find common ground and move forward.'"

"Burns has maintained that many of the county's residential building ordinances are simply out of date, and contain redundancies and inconsistencies that need fixing."

Full Story: County wants to cut the red tape, and that has growth foes concerned

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