Not to be confused with an item south of Temecula, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors this week approved an amendment to its "fast track" policy.
Developers hoping to expedite the permitting process for their projects using the county's "fast track" policy could get ahead by hiring unemployed military veterans and other workers, under amendments to the policy approved today by the Board of Supervisors.
In a 4-0 vote on Tuesday, with Supervisor Jeff Stone absent, the board enacted revisions to policy A-32, which establishes guidelines for projects to qualify for fast-track approval.
The amendments did not involve surface mine permits, which is the sort of permit that Granite Construction was seeking for the Liberty Quarry project, according to Ray Smith, county information officer.
"Adding a surface mines category to the projects eligible for fast track consideration would require ordinance amendments that still must go before the board," Smith said, noting he did not immediately know of a date the proposed item might return to the board.
The original policy made no mention of hiring practices, but board Chairman John Tavaglione proposed a change in light of findings that many military veterans are having trouble finding work.
"A number of veterans are returning from overseas and finding themselves unemployed for an extended period of time," Tavaglione said. "Some of them are going into default on their homes. It's very, very unfortunate. We need to do what we can for our veterans."
According to the revised policy, in order for a developer to be fast- track-eligible, the company must commit to giving preferential consideration to "individuals who have served in the United States armed forces, or those who have been unemployed for six months or more due to economic conditions."
The county's unemployment rate is around 13 percent.
In addition to the veteran and dislocated worker requirement, the amended policy also mandates that a developer -- "whenever possible" -- hire construction contractors or consultants who are based in Riverside County.
Under the updated policy, companies planning renewable energy projects, or manufacturing facilities that turn out "clean green" products, will qualify for fast-track consideration.
The policy previously gave priority consideration to child care centers, large-scale residential and commercial developments and public housing projects.
The policy states that, when the county's unemployment rate is above 6 percent, an applicant can seek fast-track approval if his proposed project will create 40 new, permanent full-time jobs or will generate $12.5 million in annual taxable sales.
The director of the county's Economic Development Agency ultimately decides what projects are entitled to expedited handling.
Once fast-track status is granted, developers' applications, site plans and other documents needed for project approval undergo an accelerated review by an ad hoc Land Development Committee. The goal is to have any land-use hearings before the Board of Supervisors within 90 days.
Issues that could disrupt the timetable include the need for an environmental impact report, as well as potential conflicts with the county's Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
—Maggie Avants contributed to this report.