1995-1996 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury

May 24, 1996
Contact: Spencer Boise, Foreman
Phone (805) 568-2292



The 1995-96 Santa Barbara County Grand Jury released a report today criticizing the five-year failure of the County’s Planning & Development Department to meet standards set by the Board of Supervisors in 1991 for streamlining building permits.

While observing signs of progress in reducing permit processing time, the Grand Jury investigation disclosed deficiencies that still remain in the streamlining process and the one-stop counter plans for building and land use permits. Last month in their new Strategic Plan for the County, the Board of Supervisors repeated its 1991 request for improvements in the permit streamlining process, the Grand Jury noted.

At the same time, the report recognized the Planning & Development Department has scheduled installation of a $350,000 computerized tracking system by early 1997. The new unit is expected to automate building permit functions from application through final clearances, and accomplish streamlining and the one-stop counter programs, according to the department. The Grand Jury recommended “thorough and adequate training” for all department personnel who will be involved in the new tracking system.

The Grand Jury further observed that “long-standing problems still exist in the management and operations of the Planning & Development Department.” The jury is urging the Board of Supervisors to require a performance audit of all divisions involved in permit processing approximately six months after installation of the new tracking system.

The Grand Jury report also identified a need to establish a central manager for the entire permitting process, instead of the dual role now in place. This will improve lines of authority and decision-making within the department and with other departments involved in the permit process, the report said.

The Grand Jury suggested improved practices in the Planning & Development Department, such as ensuring department employees are fully qualified for their positions, and work stations are adequately staffed during absences.

The full report is posted at on the Grand Jury’s World Wide Web page. Copies of the report are also available at the Superior Court Jury Services office at 1100 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, or call 568-3139.