VelocityHall speeds up permits
- By Eric Kulisch
- Nov 16, 2000
Old habits are proving hard to break in Alameda, Calif.
Carpenters, plumbers and electricians are so used to driving to local
planning agencies to pull permits that it's taking time for them to realize
there's an alternative.
"Convincing them not to visit us is tougher than I thought it would
be," said Greg McFann, chief code enforcement official for Alameda.
McFann was referring to the county's recent implementation of VelocityHall — an automated Web application by Accela.com Inc. that eliminates the need
for contractors to go to the local city hall or make phone calls to apply
for permits, check the status of applications or schedule inspections.
Accela.com has already signed up 80 customers for its new Web-enabled
products. Most of them are users of the company's back-end permitting systems.
Contractors can log on through Accela.com's front-end server and tie
directly into an agency's databases. Without any human interaction, they
can search for building, planning or fire data needed for a permit application.
The integrated system, which is customized for each city, automatically
calculates fees and electronically issues permits. Smaller governments can
opt to have Accela.com host the solution.
Some agencies cover Accela's cost — $5 plus 10 percent of the permit
amount. In other cases, the contractor is responsible for the cost, said
Maury Blackman, vice president of corporate development.
For now, the e-permitting system is limited to processing simple permits
that do not require technical review. However, as the San Francisco-based
company improves its ability to process blueprints, permits for larger projects
will be possible.
McFann said the service will eventually free staff to work with homeowners
and contractors. Meanwhile, officials are spreading the word about the new
service by mailing fliers to every contractor in their databases.