Online permitting application coming to Humboldt County?

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:

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 On Twitter @ahartreports.”


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4 Responses to Online permitting application coming to Humboldt County?

  1. I live in LA and there is a website which gives access to all sorts of things:
    Take a look at it….I used it to file a complaint against a neighbor who was building a ‘garden shed’ (which was growing into something almost as large as the actual house) not just without any permits, but also up against the neighbor’s boundary wall.
    Took almost two months but one Sunday instead of hearing more construction noise (the neighbor used someone who worked on weekends and got paid under the table…) it was a different noise…went out, took a look and he was dismantling it…board by board. No permit for construction, for electrical, for water…
    Idiots…one neighbor on each side, then three behind whose property overlooked theirs (which faced the street)…and they thought no one would pay attention?
    Anyway, complaints can be filed on line and I was able to look up all the permits ever issued for that AP (assessor’s parcel no.) or address….
    Go take a test drive on the website, it’s not like it’s rocket science or that a rural county would need something totally different….there should be some company that has a ready-to-go program that would just take some customizing…

    I learned all about looking up property information a long time ago: Les Scher Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country (NOLO Press). He bought land and built in the Honeydew area…the photo on the cover of the book is of that area.


    • Henchman Of Justice says:

      The workload increases, offsetting any savings a website is sales pitched as by claiming “better consumer service”. More workload, less service, no matter by paper trail or technology, the cause and effect results are similar.


  2. Cousin Eddie says:

    “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.”
    Holy shit! They’d fire this guy in humboldt. Right now they’re using the health department model of customer service, “wait them out, they might go crazy or die”


  3. Henchman Of Justice says:

    “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.” ~ THC


    1) Transparency is a tree chart that already exists that shows the process and an application #.

    2) Accessible – ya cant reach through a computer to put your hands on the counter to have staff pull out the building plans or an archived document downstairs or ask a question directly to witness the “humina humina humina”, that is a type of transparency no computer shall EVER offer.

    3) learning about delays and the reasons – except that when no reason can be ascertained, then the reason for the delay is delayed. This already occurs, it is called a telephone, but you stand/sit/chug 🍺and wait…………….

    Note: $1.8 million said nothing about a trained hiring position to maintain such system up to date for all the mistakes and corrections, changes and additions that occur over the fiscal year.

    Besides, no application process should be so complex that “tracking it by computer” is an option (certainly not a fix all option, but convenience to dabble).

    Fix the real problem (which is not tracking by computer technology): Simplify the process instead of complicating the process just to make the faux appearance (tracking fixes stuff) to those who don’t know that much of the “staff overview and recommendations” are basic across the board mitigations and cookie cutter rules, codes and requirements, so “time delays” make little sense now.

    Basics made to look long and complicating and sheesh, when a violation occurs later on the ground (project) involving the previously agreed to “basic paperwork”, the “staff”/county won’t enforce the laws because it is just more work for an overworked staff………kinda explains why onsite inspections are so stringent by the building department – they know the planning department is making mistakes.


    It is ok though in a few years when all the tax dollars come flooding into county coffers from marijuana taxations.

    The plan is going onto the November ballot.

    It is a slick snake plan too, check this out,

    County Supes know there exists a HUGE number of anti pot everything voters and some anti pot “certain aspects only”. This equates to a vast number of votes of people who would otherwise feel it is acceptible to tax the weed they hate so much. 😈

    Then, add into the equation the mega growers (also small time mom and poppers who grow hundreds of plants, thousands) who will jump with joy to agree to make mega profits but pay a miniscule proportion of wealth to permit and inspection costs. 😃

    So, anti pot votes 😈 + 😃 = 💏

    Then supes 😭, who desperately need to balance a budget, decide a “growers tax” will create revenue (it will, no shit), and the marriage is complete 👪

    Thing is, until The State and Feds complete their versions of “medical and recreational weed”, the county can do whatever, take the tax money, launder it like a cartel clan, be free from prosecution, but a private sector citizen who does what the county requires is not protected by the county when the State or Feds come in and say local rules are inconsequential.

    How is that for a backdoor form of mass holocaust on weed 😎……local leaders 😭suck the grower fox outta the foxhole to expose easier to the Feds, State to arrest the little guy whenever🙌.

    Much more to come.

    BTW, “PERSONAL USE grows should not be subject to any taxation”.

    Eventually, a sales tax on recreational weed only is acceptible.

    No tax on medicine!

    Grower tax only on recreational weed!

    Of course, understanding if no taxation, grower will maximize profits over sustainable economics, gubbamint could allow for the “doggy parks or trails concept” a community weed garden for those who cant afford expensive medicine cuz of excessive profits and taxation., such a progressive taxation offsetting policy, a community medicine garden, all created by four conservative republicans and one self proclaimed progressive liberal democrat, not the teeter of the tot expected.

    Are carbon credits on the way too? Ya, the workload increases cuz someone’s (staff, 3rd party servicer) gotta scheme a scam with carbon data sheets and that takes hella time.

    Final Determination: County solves all problems with the tax, tax, tax collective bargaining chip.

    4 of 5 Supes doing the tax, tax, tax are republicans. Take that LMOB, they are simply giving all the earth huggers and water hoarders a taste of their own backwash, cuz ya know, they supported taxing the shit outta legit businesses like construction, fishing, logging, farming, etc….

    Now, weed is the cureall, lol.

    HOJ supports only a hands off policy until “constitutional protections against false arrest under the law” and other inconsistencies between levels of gubbamint are resolved absolute. Medical grows only ok for now under State Law.

    No need to bite off more than can be politically eschewed.


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