THC sure hopes so! According to this article by Angela Hart of the Press-Democrat in Santa Rosa/Sonoma County, just such an application is being launched by our neighbors to the south.
So why is Sonoma County taking this fantastic step towards making the permitting process, and interaction with the Sonoma County building and planning department, more accessible and less painful? According to Hart, “Sonoma County is striving to make it easier to do business.” Guess what? We love it!
The online system took a year and half to put together, and cost the County $1.8 million. Sounds like a lot, we know, and we have a hard time believing that we actually support this because of that.
However, such a system would fix – or at least address – quite a few issues that currently plague Humboldt’s own Planning and Building department.
From the department’s perspective, it would cut down on the work they need to do significantly. You know how overworked they’ve been lately – THC can’t see how such an application would be anything but a win for them.
Way more importantly, it would make the permitting process more transparent and accessible. Applicant’s could track the progress of a particular permit online and could learn about any delays or issues with the process – and the reasons for such delays – just by logging on to the website.
Of course, the one consideration that tempers our enthusiasm is whether such an investment would actually provide value to Humboldt in the long-run. The amount of building permit applications that get submitted and processed in Humboldt are way down from past levels, and there’s no sign that will change. Of course, with the anticipated rise in permit processing as a result of all that cannabis stuff going down, we are tempted to believe it would pencil out.
And the Sonoma online permit application won’t just deal with permits – it will also serve as place where people can lodge complaints. In a completely complaint-driven process, this would give Planning and Building officials a huge boost in recognizing and dealing with violations. All that a complainer would have to do is send them a message via the app, with pictures, and a formal complaint would be lodged. How cool is that?
The entirety of Hart’s article is below:
Sonoma County debuts online permitting system
Access Sonoma County’s new online permitting system here
Sonoma County is striving to make it easier to do business.
The county’s Permit and Resource Management Department this month launched its new online permitting system, a $1.8 million venture that will allow businesses and residents to go online to check the status of a permit, apply for residential building permits, schedule inspections or register complaints for rowdy winery events or unpermitted vacation rentals.
“The capabilities are endless,” said Tennis Wick, PRMD director. “People will be able to log on from their cellphone and check the status of their permit, or take a picture of a violation and send it to us.”
County building and construction groups praised the online permitting system, known as Permit Sonoma, saying it will make it easier — and perhaps cheaper — to do business with county government.
“We’ve always felt there is a lack of understanding for how much delays cost, so if this speeds up the process, it will be a tremendous help,” said Keith Woods, chief executive officer of the North Coast Builders Exchange, a local construction trade association. “This is what we’ve been asking for decades. Projects can get delays for months if not years. If this works, it’s great news.”
The system, in development for the past year and a half, was sparked by a desire to streamline the county’s permitting system, allow greater access to large data sets and help people better engage with the county when filing complaints.
The system will also allow people to file complaints about other suspected violations outside city limits, from substandard housing problems to environmental hazard issues.
Wick said he hopes the new permitting system will ease frustration about how the county handles such complaints. It enables people to file complaints remotely using the county’s smartphone app called SoCo Report It.
“With all the strengths and weaknesses of our code enforcement system, you can imagine how this will change the culture of that place,” Wick said.
The move is part of a larger effort to transition to an entirely electronic permitting system, he said.
“If someone wants to submit plans for a winery, all they’ll have to do is go online and send us a PDF,” Wick said. “We’re trying to move away from the DMV model of customer service, to more of an Apple Store model. Our next leap is to Amazon.”
You can reach Staff Writer Angela Hart at 526-8503 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ahartreports.”