Commercial Project Intake Meetings

Since May 2019, we’ve been working to improve the City’s permitting function. This is the sixth of six posts that talk about early initiatives to improve organizational structure and processes.

During conversations with both city staff and the design/development community, it became apparent that we oftentimes accept plans and applications that are missing materials or have easy-to-spot errors that need to be corrected. Sometimes these errors go unnoticed or uncommunicated until several weeks into the plan review stage, which can really hold up application review process. Once the mistakes are noticed the correction period may take several weeks or longer because of back-and-forth communication between the permit applicant and the City. To minimize errors early in the process, and ultimately reduce the review time, the Central Permit Office is now requiring that customers submitting applications for commercial projects attend an “intake meeting” prior to formally submitting their application.

Introducing the Code Review Form

Since May 2019, we’ve been working to improve the City’s permitting function. This is the fifth of six posts that talk about early initiatives to improve organizational structure and processes.

Brian Thompson, a plan reviewer in the Central Permit Office, gathered lists of specific items or topics that are typically required to assess the compliance of plans. He then developed a consolidated Code Analysis Form that clearly lists all of those items. 

Measuring Customer Experience

Since May 2019, we’ve been working to improve the City’s permitting function. This is the fourth of six posts that talk about early initiatives to improve organizational structure and processes.

As we continue to focus on permitting, we want to regularly incorporate customer feedback into our initiatives. To do this, the Central Permit Office has launched an in-person Customer Satisfaction Survey. This survey informs staff and management about the customer experience and create a baseline for improvement. We also hope that it will highlight positive customer encounters and interactions.

Pay your Permit Fee by Credit Card!

Since May 2019, we’ve been working to improve the City’s permitting function. This is the third of six posts that talk about early initiatives to improve organizational structure and processes.

Last winter the City of Syracuse announced that it would start accepting credit card payments at its ice skating rinks.  Since that announcement, we have been working toward a role out of credit card payments with the Central Permit Office as well.

Permit Intake Form: Small but Mighty Change to Permit Plan Drop-Off

Since May 2019, we’ve been working to improve the City’s permitting function. This is the second of six posts that talk about early initiatives to improve organizational structure and processes.

Once upon a time, a customer could simply walk into the Central Permit Office, drop off their plans or papers, and then just walk away. This happened most frequently when the permit office staff was busy serving other customers and unable to track every paper left on the counter. It oftentimes resulted in confusion and sometimes even lost plans. The api worked with the permit office staff to develop an intake form. This hot pink form requires individuals who are dropping off papers to provide a little information.

Commercial Review Teams: Centralizing Commercial Plan Review

Since May 2019, we’ve been working to improve the City’s permitting function. This is the first of six posts that talk about early initiatives to improve organizational structure and processes.

One of the biggest concerns that both city staff and permit applicants share is the decentralization of the permitting review function. Even though we have a “Central Permit Office”, this space serves more as a “central drop off location.” It is a counter that people visit to turn in plans and fill out permit applications. The review function itself is actually scattered across different departments and lives in at least six different municipal buildings. We decided to take the first steps to unify and integrate commercial building plan review process and created two different Commercial Permit Teams.

New Priority Area: Permitting!

When people think about neighborhood development and economic development, they often think of construction, new buildings, renovations, small businesses, and jobs.  However, they don’t often think about the behind the scenes work that goes into those larger efforts. People spend countless hours planning, working, and developing their projects.  They spend time and money to create something that will not only impact their lives, but the entire community.

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One part of this behind-the-scenes work involves obtaining approval from the City.  This approval often comes in the form of permits. The City of Syracuse issues dozens of different types of permits, and many times individual projects require multiple permits.  To obtain permits, customers currently have to come in person to Central Permit Office to complete paper applications and drop off paper project plans. From there, applicants’ plans are disseminated to several different city departments for approval.  The process can be long and tedious.

About a year ago we established a Performance Management Program. As part of this program, we set goals for how long it should take to approve different types of permit applications.  Unfortunately though, we are oftentimes missing these goals.

  • Residential renovation - 2 weeks

  • Residential new construction - 4 weeks

  • Commercial renovation - 6 weeks

  • Commercial new construction - 8 weeks

Permitting Performance Management Dashboard from June 20, 2019.

Permitting Performance Management Dashboard from June 20, 2019.

In an attempt to meet these goals, and ultimately improve the neighborhood and economic development process in Syracuse, we are excited to announce that our next Innovation Priority Area is Permitting.  Over the next year we will launch a comprehensive series of projects and initiatives to improve permitting customer experience, operations, communication, and process.

Check out the official announcement from Mayor Walsh below, and be sure to follow along on innovatesyracuse.com to learn more about this work!