City Council approves new planning, building & safety customer service policy

July 11, 2003
Santa Paula City Council

The City Council accepted a report on the effort to refine and improve customer service, but not without some sharp words.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe City Council accepted a report on the effort to refine and improve customer service, but not without some sharp words.The council received the report at the June 16th meeting where they were told by planning and building and safety department heads that customer service would be priority and customer friendly forms and policies had been crafted.Tom Bartlett, planning director, said application response time will be based on three levels of project complexity, not the customary 30 days that had been the focus of angry comment during the Customer Service Ad Hoc Committee hearings. Speakers said the simplest request took the maximum time and deadlines were often met with city notification that paperwork was incomplete, leading to another 30-day cycle.The department will prepare a list of the most frequently asked questions, Stuart added, as well as a list of work that does not require a permit.“It’s easier for us to tell people when a permit is not required; we’ll have a detailed list of when a permit is not needed and anything other than that will require a permit.”Building and safety will develop handouts of specifications and regulations, a joint effort with Fillmore, said Director Steve Stuart.Standard components of development, such as trash enclosures, will have a uniform plan, noted Bartlett.
Both departments will document counter contacts and customers will be provided with the same document that is filed by the city.A project review meeting including department heads will allow immediate feedback and comprehensive discussion as well as timely response to an applicant; codes will be reviewed to ensure they remain applicable.Inspection appointments will offer a time window and after hour inspections will still be available at a higher fee; inspectors will receive regular training to ensure accurate field information, said Stuart. Inspectors will wear city shirts, photo identification and carry business cards.Postcards addressed to City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz will be provided to all service users to gauge services.“Clearly, the importance of these departments being helpful is very, very important,” said Bobkiewicz, who commended Bartlett and Stuart for their response to the Ad Hoc Committee’s critical report.“This has been an issue on my plate for two years and these problems have been going on for 15 years,” said Councilman Ray Luna. “You’re quick to give them thanks for coming forward and correcting this but you are also due thanks in fixing these problems. I got beaten up by the community and I got tired of it.”“Perhaps one of the most important things coming out this report are the postcards,” said Councilwoman Mary Ann Krause. “It gives the public the opportunity to express their frustration,” while allowing departments insight on what needs improvement.Mayor John Procter said one aspect of the plan - providing a list of qualified contractors recommended by the Chamber of Commerce - worried him. “We have to be careful that people don’t think it’s favoritism. . .”Bartlett said he shared the concern but that the chamber would provide and update the list that the city will only provide as a service.

Site Search



Call 805 525 1890 to receive the entire paper early. $50.00 for one year.