For creating residential subdivisions, getting a tentative map approved is a major milestone where many regulatory issues from various agencies are resolved and the remaining conditions to final approval become known. The subject of tentative map life for California land developers (for single-family and multi-family projects) is a matter covered primarily by the Subdivision Map Act (CA Government Code, Title 7, Division 2), which is generally updated annually based on new legislation coming out of Sacramento. As such, it is important that those involved in land development keep abreast of these changes and how they may impact your projects.
The California Subdivision Map Act provides various mechanisms for extending tentative map life. Aside from a Development Agreement which can fix a guaranteed life to maps based on certain negotiated conditions between the landowner and the local jurisdiction, Sections 66452.6 to 66452.26 of the Act sets forth numerous options and allowances. (See Section 66463 for rules pertaining to Parcel Maps). These generally work in concert to incrementally provide both discretionary and automatic extensions depending on the applicable section. However, they are different.
Automatic Extensions vs Discretionary Extensions
A map with an automatic extension for a period of year(s) needs no further local action to “vest” the extension, whereas discretionary extensions require specific local jurisdiction action to grant annual or multi-year extensions and may allow for the addition of additional conditions and exactions on the project. The request for a discretionary extension can result in either an approval, conditional approval, or denial. If finally denied, then that map is no longer valid and the developer must resubmit a new map, essentially starting over.
Automatic extensions have generally been based on annual legislative actions of the state in providing for specific extensions of time for projects meeting certain criteria, mainly dates of approval and status of the map. However, they have also contained different provisions requiring local discretionary action for maps approved before certain dates and automatic extensions for maps approved on later dates. Consider each section carefully as to the applicability to your tentative map.
Sections 66452.6-.26 of Tentative Map Code
Sections 66452.6 – .26 of California’s Tentative Maps code are summarized as follows:
- Original tentative map approvals are valid for 24 – 36 months based on the local jurisdiction.
- Phased tentative maps with prescribed public improvements outside the project boundaries, can be extended for up to 10 years by the filing (with the City Engineer or equivalent) of final maps representing phases of the original tentative map. The original map must have been approved to allow phasing. Each filing extends the life of the underlying tentative map for 3 years, thus a phased map, with at least 4 phases, can be extended for up 10 years (3+3+3+1 = 10).
This section provides for a tolling of the term of the map for up to 5 years if a development moratorium is in existence after the approval of the map. Additionally, if there is litigation between the developer and local jurisdiction as to the existence of a moratorium, the map could be extended for an additional 3 years, but not beyond 1/1/1992 (as to this additional 3-year provision).
Provides for tolling of the map during the time a lawsuit is pending based on the approval or conditional approval of the map, subject to the approval of the local jurisdiction.
Once a tentative map expires, no final maps can be filed (or recorded), however, if final maps are timely filed (with the City Engineer or equivalent) then those maps may be processed and recorded after the tentative map has expired. There is no end date specified in this section by which the final map may be processed or recorded after the expiration of the tentative map.
Provides for additional discretionary extensions of up to 6 years (in addition to the time provided for in (a) above). Must be approved by the local jurisdiction under specified criteria.
Defines the “development moratorium” term used herein.
Discusses conversion of certain existing units to condominiums.
Automatic 24-month Extension provision for tentative maps approved and not expired on 9/13/1993. Additive to other extensions herein.
Pertains to permit conditions.
Automatic 12-month Extension for tentative maps approved and not expired on May 15, 1996. Additive to other extensions herein.
66452.17 – 66452.20
Discusses conversion of certain existing units to condominiums.
66452.21: Approved 7/15/2008
Automatic 12-month extension for maps expiring before 1/1/2011 considering certain approved extensions under 66452.6 (a) and (e) in effect the date this section was effective, subject to conditions therein. SB 1185
66452.22: AB 333 Effective 7/15/2009
Automatic 12-month extension for maps expiring after 7/15/2009 and before 1/1/2012 considering certain approved extensions under 66452.6 (a) and (e) in effect the date this section was effective, subject to conditions therein.
66452.23: AB 208 Effective 7/15/2011
Automatic 24-month extension for maps expiring after 7/15/2011 and before 1/1/2014 considering certain approved extensions under 66452.6 – 66452.22 in effect the date this section was effective, subject to conditions therein.
66452.24: AB 116 Effective 7/13/2013
- Automatic 24-month extension for maps approved on or after 1/1/2000 and not expired by 7/13/2013
- For Maps approved on or before December 31, 1999 a 24-month discretionary approval is available based on a finding of consistency of the map with the applicable zoning and general plan requirements when the timely application for the extension was filed and other conditions.
66452.25: AB 1303 Effective 10/10/2015
- Automatic 24-month extension for maps approved on or after 1/1/2002 and not later than 1/11/2013, and not expired by 10/10/2015.
- For Maps approved on or before December 31, 2001 a 24-month discretionary approval is available based on a finding of consistency of the map with the applicable zoning and general plan requirements when the timely application for the extension was filed and other conditions.
- THE ABOVE SUBSECTION (b) ADDS NEW CRITERIA AS A CONDITION OF APPROVAL THAT THE COUNTY, IN WHICH THE TENTATIVE MAP EXISTS, MUST MEET 3 OBJECTIVE REQUIREMENTS OF:
- ANNUAL MEAN INCOME
- UNEMPLOYMENT RATE
- POVERTY RATE
THIS IS UNIQUE IN THAT IT REQUIRES A “THIRD PARTY” (WHEN THE TENTATIVE MAP WAS APPROVED IN A CITY WITHIN A COUNTY) TO MEET OBJECTIVE REQUIREMENTS NOT UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE DEVELOPER OR THE LOCAL JURISDICTION WHICH ORIGINALLY APPROVED THE MAP.
66452.26: AB 2973 Effective 9/27/18
Automatic 24-month extension for tentative maps (for single-family or multi-family residential) approved on or after 1/1/2006 and not later than 7/11/2013, AND, WAS EXTENDED PURSUANT TO SECTION 66452.25, and not expired by 9/27/2018.
In all the extension provisions reviewed above, other than timely filing for extensions as allowed under the Act, perhaps the most beneficial item to land developers is the “up to” 10-year total extension afforded by Sec. 66452.6 (a) based on the original approval of a PHASED tentative map, with at least 4 phases, and meeting the prescribed improvement condition.
The provision to be most careful of is in Sec. 66452.25 requiring a determination that the applicable County in which the map resides meets the objective criteria before that section will apply.
Further provisions will likely be approved in the future affecting the effective lives of tentative subdivision maps that, along with the existing sections briefly reviewed above, need to be carefully analyzed as to the applicability to your specific situations.
As in all matters of law, including the Subdivision Map Act, please consult with legal counsel before relying on this article or its applicability to your situation. Also, you should confirm your findings with your local jurisdiction in a timely fashion. We are available to assist with your review of your specific projects to properly assess how these various sections apply. We can also help with other land development support needs.
Bill Kennedy, CPA
Land Development Expert, Xpera Group
This article was originally published by Xpera Group which is now part of The Vertex Companies, Inc.