Have you ever submitted plans to one of the local Planning Departments only to have the plans disapproved because the room addition, driveway or second unit was not designed to meet agency regulations? Or what about those larger projects? Ready to start on an interior renovation to change from one type of commercial use to another only to later discover that six additional parking spaces will be required and the site only has room for one additional space. And, oh yes, to your surprise a new drainage detention basin will be required too! These are just a couple of examples of the surprises a Pre-Development Site Review (PDSR) will help you avoid. Done at the front end of a project, even at the conceptual idea stage, a PDSR will help you and the property owner avoid serious missteps in design, planning and permitting process; and therefore save the owner time and money to carry out the project. With this spring-like weather and some indications that the recession is lessening, some local people are starting to think about construction projects. I suggest you advise them about PDSRs before they hire an architect or a designer.

Cypress Environmental and Land Use Planning is one of the very few planning firms that prepares PDSRs. If your project is within the unincorporated portion of Santa Cruz County, you can also have a PDSR prepared by staff at County Planning Department. However, many clients are looking for more information than County Planning prepared PDSRs provide. County Planning’s PDSRs are limited to discussing regulations administered by the Planning Department and their PDSRs often take an inordinate amount of time to complete. PDSRs prepared by Cypress Environmental are wider in scope and will include relevant information that other agencies deal with, including policies of  City or County Public Works, County Environmental Health and California Dept. of Fish and Game. Just as important, Cypress Environmental PDSRs are prepared much quicker than those prepared by County Planning─usually within one month. In addition, Cypress Environmental prepares PDSRs for projects within the four cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville.

When I worked at County Planning I prepared many PDSRs for people who chose to apply for them. Since starting my private consulting business in 2002, providing clients with clear and comprehensive PDSRs has become one of my most gratifying services because it provides local residents with the knowledge they need to move ahead in a self-assurred fashion knowing they won’t be waylaid with unfortunate surprises along their journey through project design, planning and permitting. Cypress PDSRs provide all the necessary information about:

  • Zoning regulations and General Plan policies for the property that will affect the location, design and scale of the project;
  • Environmental issues on the site that will affect that will affect where and how development can occur;
  • Solutions to identified problems or issues; and
  • A”road map” for obtaining required technical studies and permits, including application fees.

After my PDSR report is completed and sent the client, I always meet with the client to discuss the report, answer questions and clairify any details. It’s important to me that the property owner understands everything in the PDSR report so it can be used as a practical tool throughout each phase of the future project. If you think this service would be useful to yourself or your client now or in the future, please call me. I’d be happy to give you more information. I can be reached at 685-1007 or kimt@cypressenv.com. You can also visit my website at www.cypressenv.com.

1 Customer Testimonial
  1. Annette Whelan says:

    Dear Kim,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Years ago when I first started working as a land use consultant I was trained by an architect who often went into the Planning Department up to 7 times before starting a project. Following her lead, I began doing PSDR’s even before the County offered them

    In today’s world of bank owned properties and short sales I’m stunned at how little folks know before plunking down money only to find that they are in a Riparian Corridor or Fault Zone or Sand HIlls with protected species.

    Who to hire for the job is another important aspect of Comprehensive Land Use Consulting. Anyone with a mouse can make CAD drawings – but do they know current code or how the county interprets it? Similarly – with so many professionals scrambling for work, there are a lot of insufficient Soils Reports etc. being generated by unfamiliar firms, often out of the county. In my experience, assembling the best team makes the project go smoother and faster and is key to success.

    In the years that I’ve advertised Pre-Purchase Investigation and Property Research only a handful of people have accessed my service — those who do are thankful.

    Dreaming the Dream – Living the NIghtmare. Why not plan ahead and prevent the misery?
    Cheers to you for writing about the problem!

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