On July 11, 2013, Governor Brown signed into law AB 116, urgency legislation aimed at providing additional relief to California’s recovering housing and construction industries. AB 116, which became effective immediately, provides an automatic 24-month extension for certain unexpired subdivision maps approved after January 1, 2000, and establishes an extension process for earlier-approved maps. While the Legislature has extended unexpired subdivision maps several times before, the process established under AB 116 is more comprehensive than previous extensions.
Under the new law, subdivision maps approved after January 1, 2000 and unexpired as of July 11, 2013 are automatically extended by 24 months. For earlier-approved maps, cities have the option to approve, conditionally approve or deny a 24-month extension, depending on whether the map is consistent with the applicable zoning and general plan. AB 116 allows cities to levy a fee, or impose a condition that requires the payment of a fee, when issuing a building permit for an extended map. In addition, AB 116 reduces, from five years to three years, the period of time that a city is prohibited from imposing new conditions on an existing permit.
Holders of subdivision maps seeking extensions for maps approved before January 1, 2000 must apply at least 90 days prior to the map’s expiration. Upon a submission of an application for an extension, AB 116 automatically extends the map for 60 days, or until the application is approved, conditionally approved, or denied, whichever occurs last. Should an application be denied, the subdivider has 15 days to appeal the decision.
Finally, AB 116 extends by 24 months any legislative, administrative or other approval by a state agency relating to a development project in a subdivision affected by AB 116 that has not expired as of July 11, 2013.
California’s housing and construction industries are showing signs of life, but with statutory time limits looming and builders at risk of losing their approvals, cities should prepare for the extension requests that are sure to follow.