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

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The City of San Carlos is considering imposing time limits on construction projects within city limits.

New construction brings new housing, interesting businesses, jobs and revenue into the community. However, delayed projects result in unsightly and disruptive job sites. Because of this, the city is considering an ordinance imposing a time limit for their completion.

The proposed ordinance sets deadlines based upon the value of construction. A nine-month deadline would be imposed for projects valued from $0 to $100,000. Meanwhile, a 12-month deadline will be imposed for projects ranging from $101,001 to $250,000. Deadlines would also be imposed after 18 months for project ranging from $250,000 to $1 million; 24 months for projects ranging from $1-5 million; 30 months for projects ranging from $5 to $10 million; and 36 months for those beyond $10 million.

A 30-day grace period will be afforded to projects that remain incomplete after the deadline. A penalty of $200 per day, however, would follow that grace period. The penalty would go up to $400 per day 61 days after the deadline. On the 121st day, the penalty would rise to $1,000 per day.

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

The ordinance would apply to all construction activities requiring a building permit. Additions, alterations, modifications, repairs, and improvements would be included.

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 bring noise, loss of parking and tear up roads. Unreasonable delays deprive cities of needed housing and promised project benefits, according to city staff. For these reasons, Belmont, San Bruno, Burlingame, Hillsborough, Atherton and two jurisdictions in Marin County have adopted deadlines.

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