July 20, 2009

California's New Land Use Law Extends Unexpired Tentative Maps for Two Years

On July 15, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 333 (“AB 333”) into law, which amends Section 65961 of, and adds Section 66452.22 to, the California Government Code. The bill was adopted as an urgency measure and is effective immediately.

AB 333 is an extension of a similar law, Senate Bill 1185, which was enacted last year and extended the expiration date for specified subdivision maps for 12 months. AB 333 gives developers an automatic two-year extension on the life of tentative or vesting tentative tract maps that had not expired before July 15, 2009, and would have otherwise expired before January 1, 2012. The bill also extends legislative, administrative, and other approvals issued by a state agency for 24 months. All extensions are in addition to any other extensions available under the Subdivision Map Act.

AB 333 does not automatically extend approvals issued by the local agency, such as building or conditional use permits. Developers will need to work with the local jurisdiction to maintain those approvals. Additionally, the bill reduces the time period after recordation of the final map during which new conditions cannot be imposed on a project from five years to three, and allows cities and counties to impose new fees after approval of the map, upon or after the issuance of a building permit.

Without the extension, many builders would have lost their vested rights and would have to begin the entitlement process all over again. AB 333 will allow these projects to stay in the pipeline and move forward when appropriate.