In 1977, the State of California passed the Permit Streamlining Act. The California Permit Streamlining Act provides that the City has 30 days for an initial review of an application for development. This is called the "completeness" review. All planning applications go through a "completeness" review - some more than once. At the end of the initial review period, the project planner will deem your application either "Complete" or "Incomplete." If it is deemed "incomplete," the planner will send you a list of items required to complete your application. These items may include additional details on the plans, survey information, neighbor-consent, fees, etc.
If a written determination of completeness is not made within 30 days after receipt of the application, and the application is for a development permit, the application is automatically deemed complete under the Act. Planners review multiple submissions at a time, each with its own 30-day clock ticking. Any application received is put into priority cue for review as there may be other applications received prior that have a shorter time-table left for review.
Upon receipt of a resubmittal of the application, a new 30-day review period begins during which the planner reviews the application anew. In most cases, the second review period will result in a complete application. However, some applications are resubmitted without addressing some of the original issues. Or answers to the first completeness review raised additional issues that need to be addressed preventing a complete application. For example, if during the first review the submitted plans did not have elevation and contour lines allowing a clear indication of height - it might be deemed incomplete. If after the resubmittal this information is included and now the planner is able to determine that the building height will exceed that which is allowed under the City Code without a Variance, the application will again be deemed incomplete because a Variance application is now necessary. Without the contour lines and elevations shown on the first set of submittals, the planner is unable to make an assessment of accurate and documented height so the issue of needing a Variance does not arise. However, upon the resubmittal, with the additional detail, it becomes readily apparent that a Variance would be required unless the building is reduced in height. Therefore, the application must be deemed incomplete until a companion Variance application is submitted.
Pursuant to the Act, determinations of completeness may be appealed. However, appeals often will delay processing of the application even further and it is recommended that applicants meet with the planner one-on-one to get a thorough understanding of what is necessary in order to make the application complete.