City Council members Laurene Weste (left) and Marsha McLean are shown a new software at the opening of the new Permit Center at City Hall Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Eddy Martinez/The SIgnal.

Small business owners could soon benefit from city’s online permit guide by 2019

When it comes to commercial construction, the requirements get a little more complex than those for residential projects. With that in mind, the city of Santa Clarita has shared a service feature that could soon benefit small business owners.

In September of last year, the city launched the Permit Guide, a user-friendly website designed to guide those planning a construction project through the entire permit process. The software takes users through every step of the way, including from the preparation stages to scheduling the final inspection.

The service is only available for residential projects but those with a business in Santa Clarita will be able to use the same tool by the end of this year, city building official John Caprarelli said Tuesday.

“We decided to focus on small businesses,” he said. “When we were initially thinking about how to develop the permit guide, unlike the residential guide, the commercial permit guide had to be tailored to where we could make the biggest impact.”

Caprarelli said he has noticed many small business owners that have not yet undergone the permit process, which causes last-minute surprises and delays in their projects.

Screenshot from santaclarita.com/permitcenter

“We want to make an impact in that sector and build a guide that will allow someone that’s just getting started to go and get help from the very beginning and get a clear project on what the permit process will be,” he added.

The guide will focus on a wide range of commercial projects for those in industries such as retail, office, daycare, food service, fitness, education, medical and factory. When complete and available to the public, users will have access to learn and set up what is needed for alterations such as for rooftops, lighting, signage, parking lot improvements and obtaining a certificate of occupancy.

The software will also be smart enough to tailor overall permit requirements. For example, Caprarelli said, for those wanting to open a medical or dental office with x-ray equipment, business owners will need clearance from agencies like the Fire Department or Los Angeles County. This would be noted so the business owner can plan in advance.

The goal is to have the construction permit guide configured sooner than the end of the year, said Caprarelli.

Since its launch just more than four months ago, the residential feature of the permit guide has been successful, the city announced in a recent news release. As of Tuesday, Caprarelli confirmed that a total of 1,035 people have used the software for all types of projects. The top uses are for new custom homes, accessory dwelling units, electric vehicle chargers, patio covers and swimming pool and spa additions.

In 2018 alone, the Building and Safety division issued more than 5,000 permits and performed 29,000-plus building inspections for nearly $300 million of new construction within city limits.

The city said the permit guide aids staff with its goal of “allowing residents to have the most efficient service possible, while also remaining committed to the integrity of new buildings.”

As feedback, Caprarelli said residents have suggested they’d like to see the city’s building permit system be a part of the guide program to make it just as user friendly. He said, “In the years ahead we will look into how to develop that.”

For more information about the Permit Center, contact Building and Safety at 661-255-4935. To access the Permit Center website, visit santa-clarita.com/PermitCenter.

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