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Revised County Fast Track Policy Excludes Surface Mines

Revisions approved this week for Riverside County's "fast track" permitting policy stopped short of addressing surface mines.

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.

Don September 14, 2012 at 02:00 AM
This amendment is not good enough A company as crooked as Granite could get around any one of these new policies. What are our supervisors thinking about, Oh! I know, they're thinking how they can make it easy for Granite, which equals $$$
Paul Jacobs September 14, 2012 at 08:54 AM
....Paul Jacobs, a Temecula City Council candidate, opposed the proposal. He said it is honorable to encourage the creation of jobs for veterans. "But mindless fast tracking is not the answer," Jacobs said. "Quality in any endeavor requires time and planning. Rushing projects through the approval process is a recipe for disaster." He said accelerated reviews that bypass the Planning Commission threaten to saddle the county with unwanted development. "Residents deserve better than a future of gravel pits and warehouses," Jacobs said. http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/swcounty/region-riverside-county-expands-eligibility-for-fast-track/article_7628182e-946d-5681-afe1-5deb9bf271c9.html
Long Time Temecula Resident September 14, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Jacob's there are people out of work while you fiddle. Most don't have a state pension like you do...
Scott September 14, 2012 at 03:15 PM
LTR Yea Paul, getting the granite approved will solve 'most" people's economic problems. .....................stage one thinking at its finest.
Long Time Temecula Resident September 14, 2012 at 03:30 PM
this action had nothing to do with granite...
Scott September 14, 2012 at 03:36 PM
LTR ................getting personal again, that always wins a debate. assuming one had the ability to debate. By the way, the whole "you have a pension and I dont and thats bad" theme that permeates the radical right is old. There is nothing wrong with pensions, its how SOME have been established that makes them wrong. Jesus, I cant believe I have to even point that out. Also, the puny amount of jobs that are projected to be created are NOTHING compared to the long term repercussions of this project.
Long Time Temecula Resident September 14, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Hi Scott...funny you slam me for getting "personal" by getting personal. The quarry sucks. I am not for it and it will not provide jobs. My point was is this article has NOTHING to do with the quarry... Jacobs comes along and says... we need time, we need to plan, people are out of work. Jacobs is not.... he has a pension. Valid argument. Pension are bakrupting american cities especially california where Jacobs has his pension..all valid arguments
Popeye September 14, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Let's kill people so people can have a job! Tea Bagger motto.
Scott September 14, 2012 at 04:53 PM
LTR, No my friend, just stating the obvious that over time your your "input" to these topics are distracting and yes, stage one thinking. That is not personal, it is obvious truth further confirmed by your last statement "all are valid arguments". No, it is not a valid argument in that it is not related to the quarry, the councel or ANYTHING posted so far on the subject. It is a seperate issue. If you really were anti quarry and have been following the details, despite you very personal feeling toward Paul, you would support him and everything thing he has given input to, including this article. Just sayin
Sam Bradstreet September 14, 2012 at 05:30 PM
LTTR, Let's say, you ask your employer for a raise and he agrees. In your negotiation you ask for a pension. He agrees. Who should pay if his company begins to lose money over time? The employer, who used a pension in order to keep the employee or the employee???? Why should the employee give up what the employer offered him to work for him???? You right wing lunatics have only one thing on your mind.....destroy the unions who vote Democratic. To do it you blame the worker, not the employer. Employers, like the government need to live up to their negotiated contracts. If they don't have the money, they should work to bring in more revenues. Taxes, fees and other things can increase revenues. Local Corporations most of the time pay VERY LITTLE in taxes through loopholes. Tax them and make them pay the taxes. They are not hiring keeping the money they should be paying in taxes now anyways. Only increased demand can cause hiring. They don't hire just to hire. Government, just as the work force need to live up to their commitments. Its not the workers responsibility to keep the people from increased taxes. The quarry is not going to drive hiring in this area. All over Southern California, laid off quarry workers, experienced, would be re-hired.. The jobs would not go to inexperienced Temecula residents.
Don September 14, 2012 at 06:10 PM
How did Paul Jacobs become the center of this debate. He said the right thing and he agrees that veterans should be given every consideration, as should every piece of bussiness that comes before the county Supervisors. Fast tracking without any real thought is potentionally dangerous, and real thought requires consideration of how easy would it be for companies like Granite to get around it.

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