Getting a building permit in Santa Fe remains a very old-school process. Building plans, be it from a resident putting on a new roof or a commercial builder proposing an office building, still require an in-person visit to City Hall with large piles of paper.
“It’s all analog,” said Eli Isaacson, the city’s Building Permit Division director. “Every transaction is over the counter. It’s all paper.”
The city Land Use Department then uses an in-house SunGard software system that is 28 years old to process plans.
“It’s green-screen technology,” city Land Use Director Carol Johnson said. “It looks like you’re playing Pong.”
Those days will be coming to an end by fall.
The Land Use Department is installing a new EnerGov Citizen Self Service system that will automate the process of submitting building plans and allow residents and construction companies to file plans and revisions online without having to go downtown. EnerGov is part of the city’s bigger $7.5 million software upgrade through Tyler Technologies of Plano, Texas, which is supplying a second program call Munis to provide cloud-based solutions for financial, human resources and IT processes and services.
More than 400 cities use the EnerGov system.
Johnson said city departments will be able to pass data between each other. EnerGov will automate and connect permitting, planning, regulatory management, inspections, code enforcement and more.
The Land Use Department this week is starting to process 20 percent of permits filed through EnerGov to test the new software system and train staff on its usage. The public, however, will still submit paper plans in person until fall.
The department’s building permit counter will close at 3 p.m. during this paper-to-online transition through July 19, and the permit counter will be closed altogether July 22-26 as systems are transferred and transitioned, Johnson said.
“People will be able to go on the website and fill out applications for any land-use permit,” Johnson said.
This includes building permits, fence permits, roof permits, residential remodel permits, window permits and many more. This also includes applications for historic preservation approvals.
“Most of our walk-up trade is related to historic preservation,” Johnson said.
But people more comfortable with submitting plans in person and on paper will be able to continue to do so, she added.
Right now, Sarcon Construction prints out six sets of construction plans to submit in person to the city. Sarcon President Peter Brill can’t wait to press “send” at his office to submit all plans.
“I applaud it. I love it,” Brill said. “I think we’ve been needing to get into the 21st century for a while. I know it will make communicating easier, more straightforward not having to go downtown and file something. Less trees, less time, less cost; that should be passed on to the end user.”
The Land Use Department will introduce “express permits” with EnerGov to allow permits for simpler jobs like windows, restuccoing or reroofing to be issued in 24 to 48 hours, Isaacson said.
The new system also will let the public enter an address to find out what is happening there without having to call the city.
“I get calls from [the City] Council and community members about what is going on at an address,” Johnson said.