AB333: Stalled Subdivision And Condo Projects Get Help As New State Law Extends Maps for 2 Years

Throughout the Bay Area and state, subdivisions and condominium projects have been delayed during the housing slump due to developers’ difficulty obtaining construction financing. Many such projects have stalled in the middle of the mapping and entitlement process, before the project’s map has been recorded. Delayed maps are at risk of expiration, with the potential loss of vital project approvals and permits. In recognition of these critical issues, the California legislature passed a new law to enable developers to extend the life of tentative maps and related state agency approvals until the credit markets thaw and construction financing may be secured.

Tentative Map Extension

Assembly Bill 333, enacted on July 15, 2009, automatically extends for 2 years any existing unexpired tentative map or vesting tentative map that would have otherwise expired before January 1, 2012. To be eligible for the extension, a map must have been valid on July 15, 2009, and set to expire before January 1, 2012. The 2 year extension is in addition to any other extensions provided under state law or local ordinance. For those maps extended by last year’s similar state measure, AB 333 will provide an additional 2 year extension. See Cal. Govt. Code Section 66452.22.

Related State Agency Approvals Also Extended

Important for those projects receiving other state agency approvals, such as a San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) Permit or California Coastal Commission (CCC) Coastal Development Permit, the new law also extends for 2 years related state agency approvals for those projects that extend their maps under AB 333.

Local City & County Approvals Not Included

AB 333 only applies to tentative maps, vesting tentative maps and related state level approvals. The new law does not extend local city or county approvals or permits. Conditional Use Permits, Variances, Special Use Permits, building permits and other local approvals remain subject to local regulations with respect to expiration periods and available extensions, if any. In San Francisco, the Planning Commission has recently signaled that many local project approvals are eligible for extension, and such requests will be reviewed favorably.

The Trade Off

For those projects utilizing the 2 year map extension under AB 333, there are a few tradeoffs. In order to offset any potential adverse impacts on local cities or counties from multiple extensions of tentative or vesting tentative maps, AB 333 modifies Cal. Govt. Code Section 65961 by (i) reducing from 5 years to 3 years the period of time after recordation of a map during which a city or county is prohibited from imposing new conditions on a building permit if such conditions could have been imposed as conditions of the previously approved tentative or vesting tentative map, and (ii) eliminating the prohibition on a city or county imposing new local fees upon the issuance of a building permit.

Reuben & Junius, LLP is a full service real estate law firm. We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law. We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leases, purchase and sale agreements, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.