CALBO Member Highlight
The City of Citrus Heights Shares Online Success
CALBO continues to share member’s stories and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing guidelines have forced most jurisdictions to adopt new processes, and more specifically, electronic review procedures in order to continue to serve their community. This week the Building Official from Citrus Heights, Greg Anderson, shares his experiences with electronic submittals for his jurisdiction:
In 2017, the City of Citrus Heights partnered with Viva Civic to
offer their Citizen Access (CA) portal to our customers because
they increasingly wanted to engage with us online. We have
responded to the current COVID-19 restrictions by expanding those
capabilities to provide complete, end-to-end online permitting.
This enables us to continue doing business even when we can’t be
on site or in the office in person. We’re looking to the future
as well when more business will be done online or with limited
person-to-person contact. Our use of Viva Civic has allowed us to
support our in-process projects and continue to receive and
process new projects.
The Viva citizen portal enables our customer’s online access to:
- Submit an application, complete with drawings and design documents
- Pay for plan check and the final permit
- Request inspections, receive and respond to corrections
- Resubmit revised plans
- Apply to receive the printed permit
Viva Civic really allows us to follow the complete life cycle of
the permit process, all online. The customer-facing end of the
system is fully integrated with the staff interface. Every
submission, including all the drawings, fee assessments, plan
checks, and inspection statues are seamlessly shown on both the
staff and customer interfaces. For the staff side of things, all
of the projects submitted online are clearly identified, and the
transfer of documents is handled seamlessly by the software. We
do use Bluebeam for reviewing plans, which is also a very
affordable and powerful system.
Aside from giving our customers access to a full array of services, moving online has also saved us a considerable amount of administrative time in accepting applications, processing and routing projects, processing payments, as well as accepting and processing inspection requests. We also like that we get less calls and email inquiries about status of plan checks, permits, and inspections because the customer can easily check for themselves. Utilizing a single platform that allows multiple departments to review and approve plans has also facilitated citywide collaboration. Currently we have 1,200 registered online users and we expect this number to grow quickly as customers learn more about our online capabilities.
What makes Viva Civic’s software even more valuable is the incredible collaboration you can achieve all in one place. Not only are we collaborating citywide between departments, but the design and construction teams can collaborate on any project via this single platform as well. The program associates people-to-projects based on the emails entered in the application. For example: a contractor, identified on an application as the contractor, is able to register, login, and then request inspections on any projects where they have been identified as a contractor. Owners can see the progress of their project during the permitting stage, as well as throughout construction. The ability to see the complete history as well as the status of their projects from their own portal simplifies project management tasks for the architects, engineers and contractors who usually have more than one active project in the city.
Of course, as we mentioned earlier, we didn’t just start online access due to COVID-19. We started with online permitting back in May 2017 which enabled citizens to apply for new permits via the CA portal. Electrical, plumbing, and reroofing permits were included in our initial release. We also added in a customer’s ability to pay online with a credit card at the same time, which made our process even more streamlined. In December 2019, we extended our services through Viva Civic once more to attach new files to permits and plan checks so that we can provide electronic plan checking. So, when COVID-19 shutdowns started, we immediately increased our services to include online permitting for all residential projects coming in. Now, it’s been proven successful and we are extending services to include commercial projects as well.
Adding online permitting to our existing system was easy and affordable. The installation was done quickly and efficiently. For us, implementing Viva Civic Citizen Access and offering online permitting turned out to be a timely decision. Moving forward, online permitting will increasingly be considered a top best practice for any jurisdiction. Transitioning to a complete online customer portal has streamlined our operation and has given customers and staff the ability to work from anywhere. We believe, with our online permitting system, we are truly ready to partner with our communities and customers to help them in their short-term recovery and beyond.
Chief Building Official
City of Citrus Heights
CALBO has enjoyed sharing different member’s experience during this time. If you have a story to share about your jurisdiction’s recent accomplishments during the COVID-19 pandemic, please submit your story to our office. We look forward to hearing more about the positive outcomes of this crisis, and more importantly staying in touch with our members state-wide.
Stay safe and healthy!