After examining its services to area businesses and residents, the San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) has reorganized in order to provide its customers with better service online and in person.
In September the DPLU hired Citygate Associates, a professional consultancy that provides services in the areas of general management consulting for government departments, to examine the system to see what services needed more personal care from employees.
“The primary complaint we got back is that the development process takes too long, is too complicated and any issues come up too late,” said DPLU Director Eric Gibson. “We’re taking steps to make the process more straightforward.”
The DPLU launched the Service First initiative, designed to reduce processing time by 50 percent, said Gibson.
At first, there were certain community members and planning groups within the county that were concerned about what the change would mean for their area, but Gibson said after the process was explained to them their concerns were “alleviated.”
“We had fairly standard people we dealt with, but [the DPLU] shuffled around its organization, giving a new way for us to work with them,” said Harry Christiansen, a member of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group (FCPG). “They are working to rectify their problems and organize the way they look, which is a solution to a problem we had begun to see.”
Christiansen said the DPLU held a meeting informing community members of its reorganization, which includes better control of the different departments that work with subdivision maps and a consolidation of counters, meaning less time spent by developers to get approval on projects.
Jim Russell, FCPG chair, believes the DPLU’s new streamlined service demonstrates the fact that the DPLU is aware that it is a service organization that needs to provide quality service to its customers.
“The DPLU had a strategic planning session of sorts in order to improve the attitudes and customer service of the people working there,” Russell said.
The new system allows developers, contractors and others in the building process to save time and money, as there is less of a wait to see different officials for permits and licenses.
“We’re basically taking the recommendations, augmenting them, developing them, working them into a plan and now implementing it,” said Gibson.
The DPLU’s work plan features customer-focused process planning groups, with multiple organizations, allowing developers and property owners to meet with a review team and get a thorough review of their plans before beginning the process. This is hoped to bring any issues to light at the beginning of the process.
For more information about the DPLU and its new process, go to http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu.
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