Below is a high-level overview of processing development projects through the MSHCP. Some of these processes involve the Regional Conservation Authority (RCA) while others are strictly conducted between the project applicant and the city or Riverside County of Planning Departments (depending on where the property is located). Ultimately, it is the Permittee (e.g. city or Riverside County) that determines whether a project is consistent with the MSHCP.
The first question to ask is whether the property occurs within a Criteria Cell.
How the MSHCP may affect your development process depends on whether your project will be processed with the city/Riverside County as a ministerial or a discretionary action. The RCA does not make this decision. A common example of a ministerial action is construction of a single-family home in an area zoned for such an action. For a single-family home, the MSHCP needs for the city/Riverside County to work with the landowner to place the home in the least environmentally impactful location on the property. The MSHCP does not require species surveys to be performed, nor does it require the parcel to be reviewed for reserve assembly (no HANS/JPR). This process between the landowner and the city/Riverside County for single-family home construction is called an Expedited Review Process.
If your development project triggers a discretionary approval by the city/Riverside County, the project needs to demonstrate consistency with the requirements of the MSHCP. If the project does not occur within a Criteria Cell, then MSHCP consistency will occur between the applicant and the city/Riverside County, unless there is a Determination of Biologically Equivalent or Superior Preservation (DBESP). If the project triggers the need for a DBESP, then both the city/Riverside County and the Wildlife Agencies will review the DBESP. The Wildlife Agencies are provided a hard copy of the DBESP once the city/County of Riverside find the document complete and consistent with the MSHCP. The Wildlife Agencies have 60 days to provide comments on the DBESP.
If the development project occurs within a Criteria Cell, then a Habitat Evaluation and Acquisition Negotiation Strategy (HANS) process is triggered whereby the city/Riverside County determine whether all or a portion of the project is described for conservation by the MSHCP and thus, needed for reserve assembly. Refer to the HANS Flow Chart for a summary of the process.
If the development property is evaluated and determined to be needed for reserve assembly, the city/Riverside County will make a HANS Determination that is provided to the project applicant and a Joint Project Review by the RCA is triggered. The city/Riverside County will provide to the RCA a complete application and any supporting documentations. Refer to Joint Project Review Flow Chart for a summary of the JPR process and the HANS Acquisition Flow Chart for a summary of negotiations and acquisitions.
For development applicants who do not want to have all or a portion of their property go to reserve assembly, a Criteria Refinement process may be an option. A Criteria Refinement adjusts the conservation criteria from one location within a cell to another location. It is a process that occurs between the applicant, the Permittee, the RCA, and the Wildlife Agencies. The guiding principle of a Criteria Refinement is that the conservation adjustment is biologically equivalent or superior to the existing conservation criteria, thus preserving MSHCP goals at the location of the refinement. Refer to the Criteria Refinement Process Flow Chart for a summary of the steps.
Participating Special Entities
RCA can help speed up and streamline the permit process for public agencies such as public utilities, water districts, and school districts. Agencies can apply for status as a Participating Special Entity (PSE). Their project can use the “take” permits granted under the MSHCP instead of having to obtain their own separate permits or negotiate with federal and state wildlife agencies.