July 24, 2008

New Legislation Extends Subdivision Maps for One Year

Holland & Knight Alert
Tamsen Plume
On July 15, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1185 (Lowenthal) into law, providing an automatic one-year extension for certain subdivision maps and associated state agency permits. An urgency measure, the law took effect immediately.

About the Bill
The bill amends sections of the Government Code and adds a new provision aimed at providing relief to developers during the depressed housing market. The law allows developers to automatically postpone projects by an additional year without having to go through the extension application process. The bill mimics legislation adopted in 1993 and again in 1996 in response to similar economic conditions, and was part of the California Building Industry Association’s 2008 recovery legislation.
New Government Code Section 66452.21 automatically extends by 12 months the expiration date of any tentative, vesting tentative, or parcel map that has not expired by July 15, 2008, but will expire before January 1, 2011. The new 12-month automatic extension is effective in addition to other extensions authorized by the Map Act.
The bill also extends the period over which a subdivision map may be extended. In the past, tentative subdivision and parcel maps expired 24 or 36 months after approval; a developer could apply for an extension for a total period not to exceed five years. Now, pursuant to amended Section 66463.5(c), extensions may postpone a subdivision map’s expiration for up to a total of six years.

A Note of Caution
Although Section 66452.21(c) extends by 12 months any “legislative, administrative, or other approval of the state that pertains to a development project included in a map,” this extension does not apply to entitlements granted by local agencies such as specific plans, conditional use permits or other local entitlements. Therefore, while developers can rely on this legislation to automatically extend permits granted by state agencies such as the California Department of Fish & Game, the California Coastal Commission, or the Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the timing of entitlements granted by cities and counties remains unchanged and must be requested separately from the local jurisdiction.

Bill Provides Partial Relief for Developers
In conclusion, the automatic statutory extension and increased extension period provide developers some comfort during this uncertain economic period. While in the past an expired map meant a trip back to square one, this bill provides additional time and saves the work and expense related to the application process. However, it provides only partial relief, as local entitlements remain on their original timelines.
Although this law immediately and automatically extends all qualified entitlements, developers should contact local and state authorities to confirm the extension period for their subdivision maps and permits.

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