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Return to: 2001 Feature Stories

CLIENT: GOVPARTNER

April 2001: American City & County

CITY DEVELOPS ONLINE PERMITTING SYSTEM

Sunnyvale, Calif., has developed and implemented an online permitting and internal management system that has simplified the city's community development processes. Through a public/private partnership, the city is making those systems available to other local governments.

Since the early 1990s, Sunnyvale has worked with a regional consortium of local governments, high-tech companies and local businesses to identify problems in the region and create solutions. One of the problems streamlining the process for obtaining building permits was presented to the group by area contractors.

In response, officials from the Sunnyvale Information Technology Department developed a software program that tracks the plan review and building inspection process as well as functions for planning/zoning and code enforcement. In 1999, Sunnyvale teamed with neighboring Mountain View and consultants from Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft to develop an online permitting component for that software program. Now, residents in Sunnyvale and Mountain View can apply and pay for building permits as well as schedule inspections over the Internet.

The online permitting system consists of a five-step user interface and shopping-cart feature that allows users to obtain up to 20 permits in one session without having to retype contact information. Contractors and homeowners no longer have to drive to City Hall during business hours to stand in line and fill out forms, and city employees no longer have to attend to long lines at the counter and enter information from paper forms into a computer system.

In addition, building officials estimate that the permitting software saves residents up to two hours when they obtain a permit online, versus in person. The permitting software also saves city staffers an estimated 15 minutes of processing time per permit.

In the last quarter of 2000, the Sunnyvale City Council selected San Diego-based Berryman & Henigar and its e-government affiliate GovPartner to license the permitting software and make it available to other communities. Because the system was developed by government professionals who understand the needs, processes and complexities of local government, Sunnyvale expects many other cities to take advantage of its work.

For more information, visit Sunnyvale's electronic permitting Web site at www.e-permits.net/sunnyvale.

Return to: 2001 Feature Stories