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Accela

Discussion in 'Code Administration' started by conarb, Jul 1, 2018.

  1. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    This was on the front page of the local paper yesterday:

    Too bad we don't have any participants from Oakland and Palo Alto here to discuss this.

    I'm not sure this is disruptive enough to do much good, I've met with two mayors recently about cleaning up building departments, some of my ideas:
    1. Put everything necessary for a building permit under the CBO, zoning, fire, etc.
    2. Audit all departments to see fees are not in excess of the cost of delivery of services.
    3. Mandate that all applications sealed by architects and all relevant engineers be permitted over the counter, there is no need for plan checks since the architects and engineers are assuming the liability, in fact city plan check passes liability over to the city.


    ¹ https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/06/28/bay-area-tech-company-rolls-out-new-software-to-help-cities-approve-housing-faster/
     
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  2. ICE

    ICE Sawhorse

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    Great idea except for the inept, unscrupulous and downright criminal architects and engineers that are out there.
     
    #2 ICE, Jul 1, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2018
    Flexo, Ty J. and fatboy like this.
  3. fatboy

    fatboy Administrator

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    And the ones that have absolutely zero knowledge of codes.

    No offense to the folks on here that obviously take the time to educate themselves in the codes.
     
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  4. Rick18071

    Rick18071 Sawhorse

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    This is true. Had an older architect come in once and asked what I was reading. I told him the International Building Code. He said "let me see it, I never saw one".
     
  5. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    Silicon Valley prides itself in being "disruptive", they fix things by blowing up the existing order, Accela is just the first of programs that may, or may not, fix the existing situation, even cities now agree the existing situation is broken, you guys are being blamed:

     
  6. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    Come on architects, defend yourselves!

    Nobody has mentioned the program itself, we need some kind of program to keep you guys from sitting on our permit applications, as I've said it's seven years average around here.
     
  7. fatboy

    fatboy Administrator

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    My jurisdiction, it is 20 working day turnaround for new construction, ten days for remodels, TI's, additions, etc.

    It is a performance indicator to achieve that 95% of the time, also have an indicator of doing it in half that time, 50% of the time.
     
  8. Rick18071

    Rick18071 Sawhorse

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    We are normally finish a simple plan review within 5 days. A very large building 2 or 3 weeks. But it takes months for the architect to send new plans if the plan review failed.
     
  9. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    Why do we have these problems in the California Bay Area and not the rest of the nation?

    In Particular: "....projects are subject to a shifting interpretation of existing building codes, and there is a lack of communication between the involved city agencies.", we see different intepretations every day here in these fora, we don't much talk about different city agencies here but trying to permit we run into it a lot, get something approved in one agency and then have another agency contradict it. If you notice above my first recommendation was to put all necessary agencies under the CBO, make him responsible to coordinate all these agencies.
     
    #9 conarb, Jul 3, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
  10. JPohling

    JPohling Sawhorse

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    You can get a building permit in Oakland pretty darn quick! They do not plan check them unless you pay extra for it. They permit it and let the inspectors essentially plan check it thru the construction effort. Crazy
     
  11. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    Software is never the solution. The advantages attributed to software are for the most part the result in changes in the process. The adoption of software may facilitate a review and revision of the processes. This has been known since the 70's. There are problems with building departments but the problems will not be solved by adopting software.

    Building code enforcement and planning are governed by different set of laws and have different processes. While they need to be coordinated they also need to be kept separate from an operational perspective.

    The immunity laws in California mean that the City has essentially no liability when they do plan checks. The building code is not concerned with the liability of the Architect or Engineer but rather is concerned with the question of whether the building complies with the building code.

    And if we are going to talk about incompetent architects and engineers we should also be willing to talk about incompetent building officials, plan checkers, and inspectors. They do exist. The difference is that architects and engineers are more concerned about getting the building built and in general do not point out the incompetency. Because the plan checkers and inspectors are not used to hearing of their short comings they often assume that they are infallible.
     
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  12. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    Wow, where did you hear that? I took out lots of permits in Oakland in the 50s, 60s, and even commerical in the 70s, after the Oakland Hills Fire in 1991 the City rented an abandoned super market creating a one-stop permit center, I never used it but have wondered why they didn't keep the concept going, maybe they have?
     
  13. mtlogcabin

    mtlogcabin Sawhorse

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    It maybe unfair to blame the hold ups on the building department when it could be any number of other departments. i will assume larger jurisdictions have more issues and problems than smaller ones.
    Every commercial building project and land development project goes through what we call "Site Review" once a week and is open to the public. All projects are on the agenda and discussed and if there are conflicts between departments we work them out there with the designer. It works well and the meetings last no more than two hours. Larger jurisdictions may not be able to this because of the volume of projects they deal with.

    We also run an excel spread sheet that lets us see in house where each department is and what holds they may have on a project. Our current permitting software has the ability to notify applicants of the progress and let them log on and see the progress of their application. We are currently not using that feature until the IT department is satisfied that the cities computers will can not be compromised by non-city staff.
     
  14. JCraver

    JCraver Sawhorse

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    Conarb has it right in the original post.

    Nobody wants to give up his kingdom. The BO isn't going to give up his to the Public Works guys, and the PW guys aren't going to care what the BO has to say. The fire guys are going to continue on in their own little world like they always have. And now everybody has Planning and Zoning guys that aren't going to give anything up, either. Then you add in the CA nonsense with water districts/historic districts/park districts/architectural review boards/etc. and you can see how it's impossible for it to ever work in the benefit of the permittee.

    The reason it got this way is a whole other thread, but these long wait times / approval processes are now purely a City Management problem. CM's and Mayors need to step on their department heads' heads, and we all know that's not going to happen.

    If there is one boss, and all those ^^^ answer to him, then he's (she's) the one who has to fix it. Getting rid of half the hoops people have to jump through, then putting the rest of the hoops under the control of one department, makes way more sense then anything y'all are doing out there now.
     
  15. mtlogcabin

    mtlogcabin Sawhorse

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    Could not agree more with JCraver. Little Kingdoms can be a huge problem.
     
  16. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    That's why I suggested that the entire process be under control of the CBO, we walk into this nightmare through the Building Department's door, they send us off to the myriad of other "kingdoms" we have to comply with; therefore I suggest that the CBO take control of everything and be responsible for Zoning, Fire, Environmental, Roads and Airports, and all kinds of other departments.

    I had a Mexican/American contractor come to me complaining about 7 years in the process for permitting two new homes, suggesting that it could be racial prejudice or maybe incompetence on the part of his woman architect? I told him no that if anything they would be careful of that because of his ability to sue, then offered to look into it for him, come to find out everything had been approved except for a fight between the water district wanting a separate water meters and the Fire Marshal demanding a single meter, I made a deal with the CBO wherein he would approve the permits but withhold the final until the water meter problem was resolved, now why couldn't the CBO have done that to begin with?
     
  17. tmurray

    tmurray Sawhorse

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    That is kind of what we have here. We have those other departments and some of them fall to a limited degree under me, but we still have fire, engineering on their own. But if they are not playing ball I can just issue the permit and let them figure it out after the fact. A long time ago I had a discussion with one department head in particular and informed him we could all work together and be reasonable of he would get no support from my department.
     

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