What Gets Approved?
In the entitlement process, a developer is essentially asking the local jurisdiction to approve a project. For housing, a common document that gets submitted for review and approval is a tentative tract map (TTM). This TTM is usually the preliminary engineering that illustrates the grading design, street circulation, street widths, lot layout, lot sizes/dimensions, utility locations, and other project features. The approval of a TTM provides for the number of lots, overall project design, and project conditions.
In other cases, the project approval may be something less specific but still very valuable in the entitlement process. With larger projects and master planned communities, a specific plan might be submitted for review and approval, which can provide the overall community design and zoning standards for a multi-parcel community. Multiple TTM’s may be submitted later for approval, but the specific plan can be a very important approval that provides the foundation for the more specific project approvals.
Other higher-level approvals may be for a general plan amendment (GPA) or zone change. If the city’s general plan land use designation and zoning call for commercial uses, getting the approval for the GPA and zone change to residential could provide significant additional property value. In many cases the GPA and zone change approval may be included with the TTM approval, but at times there are good reasons to just submit the GPA and zone change request prior to submitting the TTM.
In essence, entitlements and the project approvals should increase the value of a property. The entitlement approvals do not provide for construction permits, which are generally the next steps and are administered by the city staff departments. But getting to these project approvals – referred also as “discretionary approvals” – can be a one-step or multi-step process.
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