San Rafael, CA – Obtaining a construction permit or setting up a project inspection isn’t necessarily a fun task for homeowners, design professionals, and contractors, but it’s becoming less stressful as the County of Marin takes more steps to improve its permitting program.
Senior Planner Inge Lundegaard assists a customer at the Community Development Agency's service desk.
The Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) office at the Civic Center is the epicenter for permits and inspections for residents who live in the unincorporated parts of the county. On January 29, CDA presented a report to the Marin County Board of Supervisors about permit efficiency improvements recently completed and planned. Staff detailed efforts to streamline review of building permit and program enhancements utilizing technology and consolidated reviews to reduce turnaround times.
CDA Assistant Director Tom Lai said the staff worked with a Board of Supervisors subcommittee comprised of Supervisors Dennis Rodoni and Judy Arnold to identify potential improvements, mixing in feedback on the shared experiences of homeowners, design professionals, and contractors.
According to CDA Deputy Director Bill Kelley, the most frequent request building permit customers make is to speed the permit approval process and to simplify the requirements to obtain a permit and pass their final inspection at the end of construction. To address the requests, CDA is working toward a goal of being able to issue 80 percent of all permit applications that are received on the same day and providing requested site inspections on the next business day.
Additional goals include the ability for customers to submit their plans online and have County staff review and approve their plans electronically and concurrently to speed up the review process. The County is also actively working to reduce the number of different review and inspection approvals for simpler routine permit applications.
In 2013, CDA took a key step in customer service when it opened a modernized and expanded permit center in Suite 308 of the Civic Center. The move consolidated building, planning, public works and fire review functions and integrated staff efforts to speed up processes. More changes are on the way to create additional efficiency.
CDA said it plans to continue working with the Board subcommittee to identify more potential improvements down the line.