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SAN FRANCISCO-According to a recent audit performed by San Francisco Board of Supervisors budget analyst Harvey Rose, the city’s Planning Department is unfair to developers and homeowners with its permit process.

The audit says that the Planning Department constantly misses state-imposed deadlines for the permit process, delaying the process and causing permit applicants to hire attorneys and consultants to speed up the process. Rose states in his report that it is necessary for the city to insist on more accountability from Planning Director Gerald Green and the Planning Commission.

While the state requires planners to review applications and prepare them for a hearing in 60 days, the audit found that the Planning Commission repeatedly missed this deadline. One permit application took nearly 300 days to complete.

The audit also revealed some financial discrepancies. In the 2000-2001 fiscal year, the Planning Department received $10.2 million in fees for permit applications, some of which may have been taken illegally. For example, while the Planning Department spent only $1.7 million processing permits, it charged developers and homeowners nearly $5 million.

When reviewing the most controversial action of the Planning Department, Rose reported that planners made decisions during the dot-com boom that went against city zoning laws, which created a slew of angry activists in many neighborhoods. For example, developers were allowed to build live-work lofts in industrial neighborhoods, such as SOMA and the Mission district. This caused a huge decline in affordable housing throughout the city.

As a result of the audit, an advisory committee will be created to deal with the Planning Commission’s problems.

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