City’s 1st female building inspector blazes trail

Jennifer Turcios, the city of Santa Clarita's first woman inspector, started as an intern for the city in the summer of 2017. Courtesy of the city of Santa Clarita.

By 4:30 a.m., Jennifer Turcios is tending to her four children, making sure all their snacks, homework and after-school materials are packed for another day.

Just a couple hours later, the young mother is out climbing onto rooftops, examining through webbed, giant rebars and watching as colossal cranes pull together the walls that make up some of Santa Clarita’s massive developments.

After seven years as a full-time mom, Turcios joined the city of Santa Clarita in November as a building inspector — and the city’s first woman building inspector.

Her children may think of her as “supermom,” but she simply describes herself as “a go-getter, a self-starter.”

“I always have a need to grow and to learn more,” said Turcios, who
has a background in city planning. “I liked to see developments from inception to the end result. I said to myself, ‘That would be fantastic, but I would have to return to school.’”

That’s how she started. As a building inspection student at College of the Canyons, Turcios and two other students were selected in the summer of 2017 to ride along for inspections and receive hands-on experience with planchecks and building codes with the city.

Jennifer Turcios, the city of Santa Clarita’s first woman inspector, gets technical with the plans for one of the developments underway in the area. Tammy Murga/ The Signal

After several late nights of studying, completing her internship, raising her kids and being an active member in the community, Turcios found a job opening with the city, and — much like her personality — dove right in to apply without hesitation.

Supervising Building Inspector Chuck Strong said he and the de- partment were excited to see Turcios’ name in the list of applicants. She has what it takes to succeed in a field they call “challenging” and “ever-changing.”

“She stood out,” said Strong. “I had never been a supervisor of a female inspector before so that’s kind of a whole new ball game for us. But I could see from the beginning that she had what it takes to become an inspector.

“There’s so much to see and so much to know. You have a 5-foot pile of codebooks and every three years, there’s changes. It’s intense, but she had the aptitude, the ability, the vision and a great personality to fit the city’s philosophy.”

These were just some of the many qualities Strong and Senior Building Inspector Bill Cook said of Strong. But Turcios said just like being a mother, the job requires that “you think on your toes, be a very proactive person and be able to use all your resources. You have to make judgment calls.”

While some may consider being a woman — let alone the first — in a male-dominated field intimidating or challenging, Turcios just thinks of herself as “one of the guys,” she said.

“I don’t see any difference between us. We are a very tight unit. The way I see it is, whatever field or profession you choose, you have to be passionate about it. It doesn’t feel like work, this is my second home.”

Turcios said she has had instances where customers question her ability “simply because I am a female, but I know my crew can back me up.”

Today, the city’s new building inspector takes about 10 assignments daily, mostly in the realm of residential inspections. On days with fewer tasks, she shadows Cook and other building inspectors at larger projects such as the Center at Needham Ranch, a 135-acre business park currently under development just between Highway 14 and downtown Newhall.

While she’s only five months into her new job title, Turcios said she plans on retiring as a senior building inspector one day.

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