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Operational Process Improvements – Completed

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We have an ongoing practice of improving our operational processes to better meet the needs of our customers and our community. These improvements aim to meet the following goals:

  1. Improve Service Quality
  2. Improve Customer Experience
  3. Reduce Processing Time
  4. Maintain Consistency and Transparency
  5. Reduce and Manage Staff Workload

If you have specific suggestions for additional improvements that you think would improve our services, please contact our Ombudsperson.

Below is the list of process improvements that have been implemented. For a list of improvements that are still pending or are in progress:

Go Back to Pending and In Progress Process Improvements

Completed Process Improvements

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NumberDivisionCurrent PracticeProposed PracticeStatus
A018AdministrationRequests to information systems team are not well organized and not tracked Use Service Manager (ISD Tracking System) to process and track all requestsCompleted: 12/31/2019
C013CommunicationsIncreased community engagement: occasional surveys using SurveyMonkey; interactive social media photo contest; community meetings for Comp Planning initiatives and major department initiativesIncreased community engagement: MetroquestCompleted: 12/31/2019
E006Engineering & ConstructionTake no collection action on unpaid costsSubmit unpaid costs/staff time  to County tax roles in Aug. of each year to obtain payment through tax offset Completed: 8/1/2019
E007Engineering & ConstructionIncrease cannabis enforcement to meet high levels of black market operatorsAuthorization to hire two extra help Code Enforcement 2 inspectors Completed: 9/3/2019
F001Fire PreventionChipper requests are submitted manually and stats are developed manually. Increased efficiency could be recognized using an electronic platform.Implement So Co Report It to track and provide customer access to schedule Chipper Program work in Sonoma County and capture statistics.Completed: 8/15/2019
P001PlanningWildfire: Staff reports discuss fire risk ad hoc at planner's discretionDevelop reference guide for planners to manage the workflow for reviewing project wildfire risks. Establish clear questions to consider that should be evaluated to verify whether excessive wildfire risk is created by the project. Completed:  12/31/2019
P002PlanningWildfire: Staff reports discuss fire risk ad hoc at planner's discretionImplement staff report template with mandatory "wildfire" section under background discussionCompleted:  12/31/2019
P003PlanningStaff Development: Junior or new staff receive exposure to Permit Sonoma planning sections and other departments ad hocImplement topical teams and ensure composition includes junior/new and senior/veteran staffCompleted:  12/31/2019
P006PlanningOrganization: Division staff is divided by SectionImplement Project teams and establish meeting schedules (A) Cannabis (to be folded into another team at a future date) (B) Water/Soil/Aggregate Resource Management (C) Agriculture and Wineries (D) Infrastructure/Utilities/Transportation (E) Design/Historical/Cultural (F) Land Management/Subdivision (G) Housing (H) Service Improvements (Administration)Completed:  12/31/2019
P008PlanningProcess Improvements: Competing demands limit capacity to implement process improvementsAuthorize process improvements work planCompleted:  12/31/2019
P009PlanningProcess Improvements: Competing demands limit capacity to implement process improvementsEstablish timecard entry and Accela workflow for process improvements Completed:  12/31/2019
P010PlanningProcess Improvements: Competing demands limit capacity to implement process improvementsMandate time dedication biweekly to develop process improvements Completed:  12/31/2019
P011PlanningReview: Management input provided through routing process when reports completePrioritize management consultation on complex projectsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P012PlanningReview: Supervisor/Management review follows paper-based routing processTransition to electronic review processCompleted:  12/31/2019
P013PlanningReview: Management input provided through routing process when reports completeEstablish regular office hours for management review//standing agendasCompleted:  12/31/2019
P014PlanningCounsel direction provided at tail end of processEstablish early consultation with Counsel on complex projectsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P015PlanningProcessing: Clerical staff manage processing timelines and deadlinesRequire routing through clerical staff to better manage project recordsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P020PlanningStaff Reports: Staff reports are prepared from multiple templatesReduce repetition to improve comprehension and streamline reviewCompleted:  12/31/2019
P021PlanningWorkload: Staff project load is highly diversified due to workloadRoute projects based on teams. Completed:  12/31/2019
P022PlanningStaff Reports: Staff reports are prepared from multiple templatesStandardize "options" for decision-makers Completed:  12/31/2019
P023PlanningStaff Reports: Staff reports are prepared from multiple templatesAll citations and materials are to be referenced with proper citationsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P024PlanningFindings: Project review findings are not codified systematically in the Code Process Development Code Update (Phase II) to translate General Plan findings to the CodeCompleted:  12/31/2019
P025PlanningIntake: At project intake, applicant welcome letters and introductions to assigned planners occur between 7-14 days. Revise procedures to ensure contact with applicants within 72 hoursCompleted:  12/31/2019
P026PlanningConditions: Conditions are discussed ad hoc and distributed with packetsConnect with applicants on major conditions in advance of hearings. Completed:  12/31/2019
P029PlanningAccela: Accela allows project tracking, but it is not used to its full potentialEstablish technology focus group to continually advance and refine Accela and technology use for the planning teamCompleted:  12/31/2019
P030PlanningOrganization: Permit Sonoma Academy allows for cross sectional training to improve comprehension of other functions in the DepartmentImplement the Academy, and develop similar trainings/exchanges with other DepartmentsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P031PlanningProcess Improvements: Significant ongoing focus on improvements Prepare summary of existing process improvement initiatives that have been completed and communicate publicly: (A) Housing streamlining (B) Electronic filing and processing (C) Digitizations (D) Completion of tasks in PI strategy (E) OtherCompleted:  12/31/2019
P032PlanningVacation Rental: Processed at the VR counterProcess all vacation rental over-the-counterCompleted:  12/31/2019
P033PlanningOrganization: Division staff is divided by SectionIncrease cross-sectional assignments to improve coordination; identify staff that can/desire both policy and project reviewCompleted:  12/31/2019
P037PlanningEngagement: Noticing is processed per code in reference to codeDevelop noticing cheat-sheet as a quick-reference guide for plannersCompleted:  12/31/2019
P040PlanningDigitalization: All hard copy files are in process to be digitizedAssign leads to digitization effort and implement coding/scanningCompleted:  12/31/2019
P046PlanningResearch: Technical support staff provide materials/data when requested; heavy workload causes major delaysIncrease Planners' access to GIS for analysis (i.e. noticing, data pulls, etc.) Completed:  12/31/2019
P052PlanningIntake: Applicants can submit plans without payment Develop policy and procedure for retaining unpaid applications and routing upon payment Completed:  12/31/2019
P053PlanningAccounting: At-cost projects Adjust procedures and tighten processing to meet 30-day invoicing targetsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P059PlanningStaff Report: BoS Staff reports pick up on previous hearing reportsIncorporate references and do not replicate/duplicate material already preparedCompleted:  12/31/2019
P061PlanningManagement: Managers add layers of oversight and reviewStreamline management review - let staff processCompleted:  12/31/2019
P062PlanningManagement: Managers add layers of oversight and reviewOrganize review according to: (1) Consistency and findings, (2) Tone, (3) proofingCompleted:  12/31/2019
P068PlanningHearing Waiver Noticing Process is InconsistentDraft and review options for hearing waiver noticing, formal requests for hearingsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P069PlanningPolicy Development: Decision-makers are notified of major policy projects at the time that agendas are posted. Prepare factsheets that are distributed in advance to decision-makers with the legislative history on projects with major policy implications to prepare them for constituent comments and upcoming staff reports Completed:  12/31/2019
P070PlanningPolicy Development: Comprehensive Planning develops policy; other staff learn about the changes when implemented Working through topical project teams, ensure Project Review staff and Natural Resource staff provide input on policy development to improve implementationCompleted:  12/31/2019
P071PlanningPolicy Development: Comprehensive Planning develops policy; other staff learn about the changes when implemented Adopt procedure that all policy items are to be presented at monthly all-staff meetings well ahead of public hearings. Completed:  12/31/2019
P072PlanningTechnical Capacity: Traffic analysis capacity is limited Transition staff with Traffic analysis skills to Comprehensive Planning over 4 monthsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P075PlanningEngagement. Protocols and procedures for community engagement and outreach are not standardized. Procedures for individual projects are set forth in individual project work plans that are not accessible to all staff.Secure IT support for engagement activities (e.g. Metroquest) and train staff on implementationCompleted:  12/31/2019
P085PlanningPolicy Development: Website pages are set up for major policy projectsEstablish website pages for all projects in the Comp team's work plan, including code amendmentsCompleted:  12/31/2019
P092PlanningClerical: C. Holup assigned to Natural Resources clerical needsAs Natural resources starts processing more planning projects, clerical assignments need to be rebalanced to provide adequate coverage. Completed:  12/31/2019
P093PlanningTPW: Regular and Ad hoc meetings on PUBLIC projects with TPWSchedule and lead meetings (4th Thursdays and project meetings as needed)Completed:  12/31/2019
P096PlanningTPW project environmental components developed several years ago at project initiationReview environmental projects with TPW to identify project trajectory based on scope or scope adjustments Completed:  12/31/2019
P106PlanningWorkload: 2 vacant positions in the sectionHire staffCompleted:  12/31/2019
P115PlanningCondition Compliance: This aspect of planners' duties is growing exponentially due to lengthier conditions and lack of process structureRequire that all projects submit conditions/mitigations with subsequent project submittals after entitlementCompleted:  12/31/2019