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CPP process to expand

DEL MAR — Criticized for lacking sufficient detail, a program created to streamline design reviews is being expanded, adding another layer to the building permit process.

The Citizens’ Participation Program, adopted in 2010, gives neighbors a chance to provide input on proposed residential development before a project is presented to the Design Review Board.

Applicants proposing a new detached structure greater than 500 square feet or a second-story addition to an existing structure are required to invite their neighbors to a meeting at a time when most could attend — i.e. in the evening and not on holidays — to present early draft plans and discuss the project.

In addition to simplifying the design review process, the goal of the CPP is to reduce costs and limit animosity between neighbors.

After garnering input during more than 20 meetings, the ad hoc Development Review Process Advisory Committee — formed in June 2015 to identify concerns related to the community impacts of new and remodeled homes — suggested adding a pre-CPP meeting “to foster better neighbor-applicant communication and understanding of the potential impacts a proposed project could have on its neighboring properties and the larger community.”

The goal of the pre-CPP meeting is to “front load” the development review process by requiring more information and disclosure of potential issues.

At the Sept. 6 meeting council members approved that addition and several other recommendations.

At the “informal” pre-CPP meeting applicants and their representatives will provide a “conceptual” vision of the project and hear neighbors’ concerns about views, primary living spaces and privacy. Plans and story poles would not be required.

At the formal CPP meeting, basic 3-D images as seen from adjoining homes and numbered story poles would be required. The notification requirement for that meeting will be increased from 14 calendar days to 28

No binding agreements or requests for binding agreements would take place at either meeting.

Council members also unanimously agreed to make the CPP process part of the overall building permit application and, with the exception of Councilman Terry Sinnott, require that a member of city staff act as a facilitator (in previous discussions referred to as an ombudsman) during the second, formal CPP meeting.

To improve the design review process, council previously approved the adoption of two handbooks that will help participants navigate and understand the system.

A community guide to understanding the design review process offers a concise, step-by-step overview in laymen’s terms.

It includes the reason Del Mar has a design review process, the applicable ordinances, the required permits, examples of a denied project and resolutions.

The good-neighbor handbook was created to help residents communicate better and deal with conflict in a constructive way.