WHY WAS A CHANGE NEEDED?
Previously, customers wishing to conduct business at our building counter have often experienced long wait times. A number of reasons have been given to explain this occurrence, including: limited coverage at the counter, increase in the number of applicants processed in a day, and a process that, over the years, has become cumbersome and time consuming. In an attempt to reduce these wait times, the Building Division implemented various quick fixes such as reallocating staff to the front counter (borrowing from other sections within the division and other departments) and issuing customers "yellow cards" for next day, first in line service.
These quick fixes, however, were not permanent and often caused problems elsewhere in the process (e.g. delay in plan check and increase in the number of customers seen the following morning). In order to make a permanent impact on wait times, there needed to be a change in the system itself. One component of the process that we identified as needing modification is how we conduct planning review and Zoning Ordinance compliance.
WHAT DOES PRE-REVIEW DO?
In order to improve the permitting system, the Building Division has transferred the planning review function of the permitting process to the Planning Division. This new division, called the Building Plan Pre-Review Group (or just "Pre-Review"), is responsible for reviewing the following items for any permit requiring a plot plan:
- Verify conformance with zoning regulations
- Identify drainage district number
- Confirm legal lot status
- Identify flood plain or hazardous materials overlay
- Identify route location marking
- Confirm locations of easements, property line dimensions, flood plains/ways, disturbed areas, relinquished access, vicinity map, location of proposed and existing structures, and other issues that may impact the project.
After staff reviews the plans, a Plan Submittal Worksheet for Zoning Review will be completed and signed by the planner. Applicants must have a completed Plan Submittal Worksheet for Zoning Review form prior to submitting plans to the building counter or to make an appointment to submit an application for a permit.
HOW DOES THIS PROCESS CHANGE HELP?
Under this change, all planning related conformance issues will be forwarded to the planning department; building counter staff will no longer check plans for these or other zone compliance issues. This change in process brings the County in line with similar processes in other major jurisdictions in the region and will improve customer service in the following ways:
- Reduces wait times for submittal appointments and for our walk-in customers by reducing the amount of time needed to process plan check submission appointments.
- Reduces wait times for submittal appointments by increasing the customer success rate for plan submission.
- Reduces the instances where non-refundable plan check fees are paid before a Zoning review of the plans has been performed on projects that, it is later determined, cannot be permitted as proposed.
- Increases the plan check appointment submission success rate by avoiding situations where submittal is declined because the plot plan or other documentation is incomplete.
OPTIONAL PRE-INTAKE ASSISTANCE CONFERENCE
In addition to the advantages offered by the Pre-Review process, the Building Division provides applicants for projects that will require a building permit an opportunity to schedule a Pre-Intake Assistance (PIA) conference with County specialists. This affords our customers the opportunity to find out in greater detail the feasibility of a building project, and to get an overview of what will be required to carry the project through to completion. Typically this is useful for customers who are in the planning stages of their project; however, customers who take advantage of the PIA conference process have the added benefit of being able to submit their permit application on the day of the conference, without having to wait for an appointment, should they wish to do so and if their submittal documents are complete.
Please contact a Building Division Land Use Technician at the County Permit Center at 5510 Overland Ave., suite 110, San Diego for more information, or by calling (858) 565-5920. For information on which specialties are available to attend PIA conferences, and the cost for fees by specialty, please see page 3 of form PDS 001.
The County of San Diego continues to endeavor to improve service to our customers. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we adjust to the unprecedented surge in demand for new building permits and our assistance program for October wildfire survivors.