Tired of delays, San Carlos considers time limits on construction projects

Tired of delays, San Carlos considers time limits on construction projects

in Community/Featured/Headline

Weary of construction projects that seem to take forever to complete, the City of San Carlos is considering imposing time limits on projects within city limits.

Like many Bay Area cities, San Carlos has seen a lot of new construction activity in the last decade, which city officials say is positive in that it brings new housing, interesting businesses, jobs and revenue into the community. But delayed projects that let unsightly job sites linger can have negative impacts on neighborhoods, the city says, prompting the consideration of a city ordinance that would impose a time limit for their completion.

This ordinance as proposed would set deadlines based upon the value of construction. Projects valued from $0 to $100,000 would have a 9-month deadline, while projects valued from $101,001 to $250,000 would have a 12-month limit. Those valued from $250,000 to $1 million would have an 18-month deadline, while those from $1-5 million would have 24 months. Projects from $5 to $10 million have 30 months to be finished, while those beyond $10 million would have a 36-month deadline.

Projects that remain incomplete after the deadline would have a 30-day grace period before facing a penalty of $200 per day. Sixty-one days after the missed deadline, the penalty would go up to $400 per day, and on the 121st day it would rise to $1,000 per day.

Extensions would be possible in certain cases that are beyond a property owner’s control.

The ordinance would apply to all construction activities, including all additions, alterations, modifications, repairs, and improvements, which require a building permit, according to San Carlos city staff.

Currently, neither state nor city codes require such a time limit. Rather, code allows building permits to remain valid as long as “measurable progress” is made and inspections are performed every 180 days.

“Consequently, absent a violation of the terms of the building permit a project could continue almost indefinitely,” San Carlos city staff says. “There are currently building permits in San Carlos that are over five years old.”

Construction projects don’t just bring noise, loss of parking and unsightly job sites, they cause wear and tear roads and unreasonable delays that deprive cities of needed housing, promised project benefits, and anticipated revenue from project completion, according to city staff.

For these reasons, Belmont, San Bruno, Burlingame, Hillsborough, Atherton and two jurisdictions in Marin County have adopted ordinances that have established a deadline for projects.

The San Carlos Planning Commission is set to review the ordinance at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 600 Elm St., San Carlos.

Photo credit: City of San Carlos

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