Processing Permit Applications
Application Review Process
Once the Commission receives an application, the Commission's staff has 30 days to determine whether the application is complete. If it is complete, it is officially filed and processed in one of three ways depending on the type of permit that is appropriate for the particular work that is to be authorized by the permit. The Commission has a maximum of 90 days to act on an application once it is determined to be complete.
Work on a project cannot begin until the application has been evaluated and approval has been issued. A permit is not effective until it has been signed by the applicant and returned to the Commission.
Major Permit Application After the Commission's staff determines that an application is complete, the staff distributes a summary of the application to the Commission and the public. No sooner than 28 days after the application has been filed and at least 10 days after the summary has been distributed, the Commission holds a public hearing on the application. Unless the applicant agrees to provide the Commission with more time, the Commission must act on a permit application within 90 days of the filing of the application. [California Government Code section 66632 ]
Administrative Permit Application After the Commission's staff determines that the application is complete, the Commission's executive director summarizes the application on a listing that is sent to the Commission, state agencies, and the general public. On this listing, the executive director indicates whether the staff proposes to approve or deny the application. This action is taken shortly after the Commission meeting unless a majority of the Commission decides it wants to more fully consider the application. If the Commission makes this decision, the applicant is notified within five days after the Commission meeting that a public hearing is necessary. Complete administrative permit applications are typically processed in about five to eight weeks. [California Code of Regulations, sections 10600 et seq]
Regionwide Permit Application After the Commission's staff determines that an application is complete, the staff has 14 days to determine whether the work proposed is authorized by an existing Commission regionwide permit. Once this determination is made, the applicant is notified and work can begin if the application is approved. A complete regionwide permit application takes no more than 44 days to process and does not require a public hearing. [California Code of Regulations, sections 11700 et seq]
Posting Application Notice
After it is determined that an application is complete and is ready to be filed, the Commission's staff will send a pending application notice to the applicant who must post the notice at the project site. The applicant must return a form to the Commission to indicate that the notice has been posted before the application can be filed.
Design Review Board
To assist the Commission in evaluating the appearance, design and provision of maximum feasible public access, many applications for major projects are evaluated by the Commission's Design Review Board, an advisory board made up of prominent architects, landscape architects, engineers, and other design professionals. Special drawings and exhibits are needed for this review. The Board advises the Commission on appearance and design issues as well as on the adequacy of the public access in a proposed project. While the Commission can deny an application if it agrees with a Design Review Board finding that the project does not include sufficient public access, the Commission cannot deny a permit solely on the basis of the appearance or design of the project. The Design Review Board's evaluation of a proposed project is normally scheduled to take place prior to the Commission's public hearing on the application, but usually after any draft environmental document on the project has been circulated.
Design Review Board: What It Is, How It Works
Engineering Criteria Review Board
Buildings or other facilities constructed on Bay fill pose particular risks during earthquakes. To assist the Commission in evaluating the safety of such proposals, they may be evaluated by the Commission's Engineering Criteria Review Board, an advisory panel composed of leading civil engineers, geologists, soils engineers, structural engineers, and other experts in seismic safety. Special drawings and exhibits are needed for this review. The Engineering Criteria Review Board's evaluation of a project is usually held after the Commission has issued a permit for the project.
Engineering Criteria Review Board: What It Is, How It Works
BCDC meetings are usually held at 1:00 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month. A meeting notice is provided to applicants and other interested parties at least 10 days before the Commission meeting. The notice indicates what matters the Commission will consider and specifies the date, time and location of the meeting. The Commission usually takes two meetings to consider and act on an application The public hearing is held at the first meeting. The applicant or applicant's representative can describe the project and explain why the permit should be granted. Ten minutes is usually allowed for the applicant's presentation. Members of the public also have an opportunity to express their views on the project.
At the next meeting, the Commission's staff presents its recommendation and the Commission acts on the application. The applicant (or applicant's representative) has an opportunity to comment on the staff's recommendation before the Commission votes. Thirteen members of the 27-member Commission must vote in favor of a project in order for a project to be approved. The two members of the Commission who represent federal agencies cannot vote on permits. [Government Code section 66632, Public Resources Code sections 29520 et seq, and California Code of Regulations, sections 10360 et seq, 10400 et seq and 10550 et seq]
Private Contact with Commissioners
It is Commission policy that Commissioners and their alternates avoid discussion of permit application matters with individuals or groups on any side of an issue outside of the formal public hearing process and record. If such discussions or contacts occur, at a public meeting the Commission member involved will disclose the name or names of those involved and the substance of the contact. An opportunity will then be provided for rebuttal of the information disclosed. This policy does not preclude: (1) discussions by Commissioners who represent the federal government who do not vote on permits and have to discuss permit application matters in the course of their federal duties; (2) discussions between Commissioners and with the Commission's staff; and (3) discussions carried on by Commissioners whose other public duties cause them to hold such discussions to carry out their responsibilities, although these discussions must be disclosed to the Commission.
- Permit Conditions
To assure full compliance with the Commission's laws and policies, permits granted by the Commission generally include several conditions that must be carried out as part of the authorized project. Typical permit conditions include requirements to construct, guarantee and maintain public access to the Bay, specified construction methods to assure safety or to protect water quality, plan review requirements that must be met before construction can begin, and mitigation requirements to offset the adverse environmental impacts of the project. Failure to comply with permits conditions can invalidate the permit and lead to fines and legal action against the permittee. To avoid unnecessary delays in project completion, applicants should consider all aspects of a proposed project with particular attention to the public access and any necessary mitigation early in the project's design. [Government Code section 66632 and Public Resources Code Section 29500].
After they are issued, permits can be amended if necessary. Amendments which materially change a project require full Commission consideration and a public hearing. Minor changes can be approved by the Commission's executive director. [California Code of Regulations, section 10800 et seq].
Most of the laws, plans and policies which govern the Commission's decisions are available from the Commission's office at a nominal charge. All California state agency regulations, including the Commission's, can be purchased by contacting the private company with which the state has contracted for regulation publishing. The Commission's regulations can be ordered by contacting Barclays Law Publishers, P.O. Box 3066, South San Francisco, California 94083 (415/244-6611) and asking for 14 California Code of Regulations Division 5, Chapters 1 through 17 and Appendices A through M.