Elk Grove to Explore Permit Simplicity Proposal

March 20, 2015 | While California is considered a trendsetter in many different ways, if one proposal under consideration is adopted by ...

March 20, 2015 |

While California is considered a trendsetter in many different ways, if one proposal under consideration is adopted by Sacramento area governments, they will have taken their lead from Arizona.

The proposal, the so-called permit simplicity is being advocated by Region Builders and one of the two local governments taking a serious look at adopting it is Elk Grove. The plan is being modeled after one adopted in Phoenix that essentially provides one day permitting.

According to Region Builders Executive Director Joshua Woods, depending on the jurisdiction and the scope of the project, getting a permit can take six to eight weeks. According to Woods, Region Builder's members say Elk Grove is efficient and permits for small tenant improvement plans are usually approved in less than 30 days.

In the simplified process, designated state licensed professionals such as architects and engineers will review plans for tenant improvement projects, submit and be granted same-day building permits.

One of the key distinctions for the local proposal compared to Phoenix's process is that if Elk Grove adopts the proposal,  it  would only apply to tenant improvement projects. In Phoenix the simplified process can be used for entire projects.

"In Phoenix they do it from the ground up; we are not asking for that here," he said.

Woods also stressed that the entire public process going through the planning commission and city council would remain unchanged.

"Nothing in the public process is changed, period," he said. "The difference is on the building side, when you bring in the plans you are essentially certifying, 'Yes this meets the code.'"

During the course of construction, the project will be subject to random audits, continue to be inspected, and if there is a problem, they will be addressed immediately. Woods says the key to the program is that each jurisdiction will set standards and that the professionals who submitted the plans are putting their licenses and reputation on the line.

To be eligible for the program, participants will have to go through a city training course, pass a test, and meet to-be-determined requirements. Woods noted under the current proposal, privileges are revocable if participants are found to be non-compliant.

"There is a huge carrot, and there is a huge stick," Woods said.

In addition to Elk Grove, Sacramento is looking at the proposal and Woods said Region Builders seeks to have it adopted by other Sacramento area jurisdictions. To the best of his knowledge, Woods said that permit simplicity is not being used any place else in California and as such, if the region adopts it, it would be a huge competitive advantage over other parts of the state. 

At the last Elk Grove City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Pat Hume and Councilmember Steve Detrick volunteered for a subcommittee to explore the possibility of adopting the permit simplicity process. Both councilmembers also attended a March 10 seminar held by Region Builders that featured Phoenix City Councilmember Sal DiCiccio and Planning and Development Director Alan Stephenson, who touted the program's success.

"Part of the reason for going to Elk Grove is they are a jurisdiction that has done a lot of improvements to their process," Woods said. "We think that this is a program where if we can get Elk Grove and these other cities to establish it, the entire region will follow suit." 

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Connie said...

If simplifying the permitting process without sacrificing any legal requirements, and the quality of the project, will save the taxpayers’ money, then it is worth the discussion.

As we all know, the city of Elk Grove contracts out planning to PMC – they have merged with another company but I don’t know their new name – and we pay them millions every year.

My question is: What about the public process here? Will the developers seek out community input earlier in the process?

As one developer told me, if I can get everything done and the community on board before going before the planning commission, it saves hundreds of thousands of dollars because going back to engineers, architects, etc., isn't cheap!

It will be interesting to see what the Council does here.

Anonymous said...

"It will be interesting to see what the Council does here", REALLY? Who do you think put them in office?

The only question here is who will be the most creative in developing soundbites to take credit for voting yes on it!

Anonymous said...

I say "drive-thru and get them rubber stamped". That's what we want to do, look just like Phoenix. Throw some rocks in the yards and plant some more Bradford trees. Solves the water problem too. The up-side would be eliminating all those high priced jobs and replace them with minimum hourly employees...we LUV those!

Josh Wood said...

@Connie, thanks for the question. The program does nothing to change the public process. Every project would need to adhere to the same entitlement process for project approval. However, the post-public process for the building department would be greatly streamlined, which we believe will be a supreme differentiator in advancing jobs in Elk Grove.

Josh Wood said...

@Connie, thanks for the question. The program only streamlines the post-public process which is good for economic development, taxpayers, and the city.

Anonymous said...

Hey Josh...you forgot to say this is a doondoggel for the developer as well..push those project through as fast as possible....those pesky citizens need not have to worry, the developers will make sure all is well and good....What a crock. Josh, your stand is one that only a developer would love. One sided and efficient for you; more empty homes and no long term jobs for the residents. If the builders are salivating for this, it equates to more profits and less oversight. Who are you kidding Josh?????

Anonymous said...

Don't you love it when those developers...none who live in EG, know what is best for us? They donate to our electeds to get the rules relaxed and rubber stamped, while leaving their s*@$ on us and move on. Developers don't s*@$ in their own backyards....will our city ever get it??????

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