Marin County names official to speed building permit processing

The county of Marin has created a new position of permit ombudsperson and named the first specialist who will help applicants for building permits.

Cristy Stanley, a longtime supervisor in the county Community Development Agency’s Code Compliance Division, started in the role in late August.

The job entails following the permit process across departments and divisions, including the agency’s planning, building, environmental health services and code enforcement divisions, according to the county announcement Sept. 6. The goals are to “advance permit requests that are seemingly stuck in the review or approval process” and “identify systemic problems and facilitate process improvements.”

“The goal is to eliminate the difficulties in issuing building permits while lowering overall costs and frustration for the applicants,” said agency Director Sarah Jones in the news release. “Some building projects are challenging, and those permits will inevitably require lengthy and close review, but we can make sure that we’re not making an inherently difficult process more difficult through our practices.”

The benefit of a permit ombudsperson, the county said, was first highlighted in an audit of the agency about 10 years ago. By adding the role, Jones said she hopes for “a more seamless, accessible and user-centric permitting process.”

“An important metric will be the actual number of changes in processes or practices that come as a result of tracking and addressing any systemic permitting issues,” Jones said. “We know that changes are needed, and we’re pleased to have a way to be certain that the changes we make are the ones that will be effective and get to the heart of situations that permit applicants face.”

Stanley is expected to work on an as-needed basis in various points in the permit review process but may be involved from the beginning on more complex projects, the county said.

Stanley started worked for the county in 1998.

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