The fire process and how it is being improved
It seems that my article last week touched a few nerves in the City, Architectural, and Woolsey survivor’s community.
The City website’s weekly update shows 4 new Planning applications for a total of 154. It also reflected one more Building Permit issued.17 Applications are currently under review which is one less than last week. Planning seems to be staying ahead of the new applications as the 4 new submissions were balanced by 5 more of the existing applications being approved by Planning.
I’d like to thank the local Architects, a current applicant, and City Manager Reva Feldman who shared their frustrations and possible improvements for current process.
Let’s start with a Historical note.Prior to Woolsey, a permit applicant was looking at an 18 month process to get to a building permit as long as there were no special permissions sought.
The City currently has a goal of getting you your “like for like” or “Like for like plus 10%” Fire rebuild permit granted in 6 months.The Architects and building professionals are aware of this and are grateful for the goal and the City’s efforts.
Affected homeowners have a different attitude.They are not building because they want to.They did not choose to start this process.They don’t understand why they can’t apply with Environmental Health simultaneously with Planning.They especially don’t understand why Environmental only has counter hours from 8-noon two days a week. They are doing the best they can to navigate the system and were frustrated before the start of the process.
It is difficult for homeowners to understand why they should expect several rounds of plan checker red markups to their plans as various shortcomings are discovered and returned to their consultants to make the requested changes, explanations, etc. After the various consultants weigh in and the changes are made, the plans are once again submitted to the City who relays them to California Code Check, the outside plan checking service.Usually on the second submission the Code Check may reject some of the changes or discover new errors in the parts of the plans that they previously approved.This results in another round of corrections being made by the architect and various consultants hoping to resolve any and all deficiencies.At this point the plans are resubmitted to Code Check for the third time.If the plan checking service signs off, all is well with the world.If the Code Check finds new deficiencies, the plans are sent back to the architect and various consultants again.
Unsurprisingly the architect and various engineers, who are getting more and more backlogged, have difficulty finding the time to prioritize the 4thversion of the drawings as their other clients are growing more and more vocal about their plans and their own time schedules.
Here’s what is being done to improve the system.
Monday the 16thwas the first day of a California Plan Check employee being assigned full time to a desk in the Building and Safety office.Any submission will first be checked for completeness and any additional documents requested hopefully before the applicant leaves the counter.
The Architects are pushing for California Code Check to call them before they generate the first corrections letter and give them a chance to supply additional documents or corrected pages to the plans before the dreaded Corrections letter is written. With any luck this collaboration will telescope the first and second submission of the plans into a shorter period.
The City has advised me that while Environmental has counter hours only 2 days a week they and all other city departments are available by appointment all day, every day.Call 310-456-CITY (310-456-2489) and ask Christy to connect you with the correct department.
Finally, City Manager Reva Feldman has just begun calling each and every one of the 137 applicants who have been approved by Planning to ask them how their submission for Code Check is coming, and if they are having any difficulty in the process.It’s going to take a while for her to get through all 137 names on the list so she has authorized me to give you her phone number and extension so she can smooth your way.Call her at 310 456-2489 extension 226.
Malibu wants you to rebuild and get back in your home.Please feel free to call me with any sticky points you experience. 310-505-5006