Entitlement Documents

What Is A Development Agreement?

When you are trying to obtain entitlements for a project, you typically will have some type of document that describes your proposed project.  This document could come in the form of a tentative tract map, specific plan, or maybe a parcel map.  And in some cases, but not always, a development agreement (DA) may be up for approval as well.

The DA is typically between the developer and the local jurisdiction, describing specific obligations that each party is promising to the other.  As example, the local jurisdiction might want the project to include some off-tract improvements and will in return provide some fee credits to the developer.  Or the local jurisdiction might want some special fees to be paid because of unique impacts caused by the project.  This agreement can cover a wide variety of terms that may not be included in the tentative tract map, specific plan, project conditions, or other standard entitlement documents.

A land use attorney is often called upon to either draft the DA or review what is drafted by the local jurisdiction.  While this land use attorney should be skilled in this document, it still requires the developer to be heavily involved in the negotiation of terms.  Particularly with large master planned developments, this DA can be critical to not only these terms and obligation, but also with respect to timing and entitlement expirations.

One other note is that this DA is often considered an ordinance, which would need to be approved by the City Council.  In the event where no DA is needed, the Planning Commission might approve a tentative tract map and no City Council approval is needed.  But if there is a DA that needs approval, it is a good chance the City Council will be approving your project.

As always, feel free to share your comments and questions with us below.

John Kaye has over 30 years experience within the land development and homebuilding industries, having held senior management positions with The Irvine Company, Koll Real Estate Group, and Brookfield Homes. As a developer, John has overseen the land acquisition, entitlements, and development of master planned communities, residential tracts, urban infill sites, and land assemblages. His experience and skill sets include land acquisition, land brokerage, project management, market analysis, finance, and strategic planning.

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