Grand Jury Response

July 23, 1996

Honorable William L. Gordon

Presiding Judge, Santa Barbara County Superior Court

1100 Anacapa Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93121

Dear Judge Gordon:

The following responds to specific Findings and Recommendations in the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury 1995-96 Interim Final Report on Issues in Planning and Development dated June 3, 1996.

The format restates the Grand Jury's findings and recommendations followed by our response.

FINDING 1: The Board of Supervisors first directed the Planning and Development Department (PDD) to implement a streamlining program for permit processing and a one-stop permit counter in 1991. In their 1996 Strategic Plan, the Supervisors are still requesting improvement in the permit streamlining process.

County Administrator's Response: We would characterize the 1996 Strategic Plan as directing continued improvement in permit processing. Continuous improvement is desired in all county programs and processes.

RECOMMENDATION 1b: The Board of Supervisors should continue to request quarterly reports from PDD quarterly.

County Administrator's Response: We feel that semi-annual progress reports from PDD would be an effective method for providing meaningful information to the Board on this issue.

FINDING 2: Long standing problems still exist in the management and operations of the PDD.

County Administrator's Response: It is unfortunate that the Grand Jury chose to characterize the issues raised in their report as "long standing problems" because it implies the department has failed to address significant issues. We believe department management has made and continues to make process improvements in the departments operations. Although continued improvements are warranted, as indicated in the Grand Jury's report, PDD has previously implemented numerous procedural changes, staff reductions, and cost-containment strategies which have reduced permit processing time and streamlined departmental operations.

RECOMMENDATION 2: Supervisors should direct that a performance audit be conducted for all PDD divisions involved in permit processing approximately six months after the permit tracking system is installed.

County Administrator's Response: Performance audits can be extremely useful when the scope of the audit is well defined, sufficient resources are provided to conduct it, and an objective experienced party is engaged to perform it. If and when a County performance audit program is developed, we would recommend that the Board prioritize the Grand Jury's recommendation along with any other program area of operation of County government which the Board may feel would benefit from such an audit. Regardless of whether a .performance audit is completed, we believe the Planning and Development Department should provide the Board with a status report six months after the permit tracking system is installed.


Kent M. Taylor

County Administrator

c: John Patton, Planning and Development Director