Updated June 26, 2017

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo formed the Ad-Hoc Committee on Development Services to improve customer service and responsiveness from the Building and Planning Department to the community. The committee is chaired by Councilmember Khamis and has been meeting monthly since November 2016. Meetings address key process improvements, including updating performance metrics, creating a development services dashboard, and implementing change management, cost of service study adjustments, and code reform programs.

The latest meeting occurred on May 25, 2017 where the community and council was given an update on current improvements by Director, Harry Freitas. One of the largest enhancements being taken on by the Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement (PBCE) department is the new AMANDA Integrated Permitting System Upgrade. It was reported that in November the public portal will launch, which showcases improved property data research, project tracking, and online application submittal – an E-Plan submittal will also go into effect in February.

 The committee was briefed on the Permit Center Qmatic upgrades which would allow people to self-identify their proper permitting desk and receive a queue number before approaching the counter. These upgrades aim to reduce wait times and improve customer satisfaction. One feature in particular is sure to be a crowd pleaser, which is the ability to remote schedule your appointment. These upgrades are slated to go into effect in three separate phases starting in August 2017 and culminating in December.

A brief report by Chu Chang, the Chief Building Official for San Jose, was given on an exploratory Self-Certification program that is currently being used in Phoenix, AZ and Chicago, IL which could help streamline the plan review process. The City is now looking into having conversations with the private sector to see if Self-Certification could be a viable option for San Jose. CEQA process review was also up for discussion and staff noted they are still working on implementing the recommendations outlined by Management Partners and continuing conversations with external stakeholders to improve the process.

Addressing staff vacancies remains a cornerstone of the department‚Äôs efforts. It was reported vacancies were down 37 percent, but more work needs to be done to retain and attract staff. Additionally, the much anticipated Restaurant STI pilot program has been completed and the department will continue to implement the program. Staff is working on establishing meaningful metrics to demonstrate the benefit of this program and others to the public. 

To close the meeting, it was announced Director Harry Freitas will be resigning from his position and moving on to be the Director of Roads and Airports for Santa Clara County. The announcement was met with a congratulatory applause from the audience for the Directors commitment and service to San Jose. Rosalynn Hughey will be stepping in as Interim Director.

The final 2017 date for the Ad-Hoc Committee meeting will be June 22.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo formed the Ad-Hoc Committee on Development Services that has met four times.

On Nov. 10, 2016, the city held a Cost Recovery Workshop where consultants informed stakeholders about the study for the cost of better customer service and development in San Jose including permit fees, impact fees, and development taxes. On Nov. 30, there was a Process Improvement Workshop where stakeholders convened to provide feedback on key process improvements such as entitlement, plan check, and inspection. Stakeholders had a consensus of priorities including enhanced project coordination, CEQA team restructuring, customer communication, processing times, and addressing staff vacancies.

On Dec. 12, there was a meeting before the City Council to review and accept the findings of the development services study in order to determine the appropriate administration budget that should be granted to the department. Staff has recommended to City Council to:

  • Explore alternate funding sources
  • Implement technology to support all development services operations
  • Simplify the current fee structure
  • Deregulate certain processes for efficiency

A panel of three individuals, representing the development industry, presented their concerns to the City Council. Participants of the panel included:

  • Joshua Burroughs with Barry Swenson
  • Don Wally with IM Wally Properties
  • Erik Schoennauer with The Schoennauer Company

The City Council has approved to accept the findings of the study. The future 2017 dates for the Ad-Hoc Committee meetings will be February 23, March 23, April 27, May 25, and June 22.

SVO POSITION: SUPPORT

STATUS: In progress

Questions? Please contact Victor Cuauhtémoc Gomez, Sr. Director of Public Policy at victorg@thesvo.com

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