New software expected to help bring county development process back in-house

Officials unanimously approve $82,000 software expenditure to streamline and save money for the planning and permitting process
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The San Benito County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a contract not to exceed $82,628 with Reston, Virginia-based Carahsoft Technology Corporation for the acquisition and implementation of new land development and permit processing software that is expected to help more of the development process back in-house.  

According to county records, for the past 10 years outside consultants have maintained and operated the building permit processing for the Department of Planning and Building. As a result, most permit and inspection funding is passed through to consultants.  

The county has been moving toward bringing the work in-house by procuring a land development software system that includes a land development application, permit processing, code enforcement and building inspection tracking. This would allow most of the revenue generated to remain within the county and would also provide an offset for general department operations and long-term inspection costs.  The desire to re-align how and where development funding is captured and managed is a part of the new focus within the Department of Planning and Building, which will assist the county's vision of permit streamlining and transparency to the Planning and Building Department customers.  

“This is long overdue,” Supervisor Margie Barrios said to Brent Barnes, Resource Management Agency director. “It’s something we’ve been striving toward for a long time. I really appreciate that you have moved forward, that your staff has looked into a program that will assist us in streamlining all of our processing of applications. It’s a big task and I know it’s going to take a lot of dedication, 40 to 60 hours for the staff member to be trained. This is a real commitment for your department and I just want to make sure that the public knows this is something we have been striving for.”

Barrios asked Barnes if the program had been tested in other counties. Barnes told her that though the program was new to this county, it is not new technology.

“It has been around for a while and has worked well in other places,” he said. “We hope to seamlessly implement it. I’m sure there will be a learning curve, so please bear with us through that. I think we will dramatically increase accountability and efficiency in the planning and permitting process.”

Supervisor Anthony Botelho said the county has been asking for such a program for the last six or seven years. He asked Barnes how the program was selected and wondered about potential compatibility issues.

“In creating the RMA, there are a lot of changes that we’re undergoing now and we are building up staff and trying to bring back work inside,” Barnes said. “It’s more efficient to do that. There are clearly specialty areas where we will continue to rely on consultants. It’s my belief that we should have a core staff trained and functional in all the areas that are our core businesses. That is one of the main selling features for me of taking on this challenge.”

Barnes said the staff generated a request for proposal and sought a variety of software solutions. He said the county’s information technology staff vetted each to ensure compatibility. He assured the board that the program was “the best fit.”

After Hollister resident Keith Snow questioned whether it was possible to get a cheaper software, Board Chair Robert Rivas asked for a decision and Barrios made the motion to approve the contract.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a BenitoLink reporter and an author. He has many years' experience as a freelance photojournalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer who has worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and underwent graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John has worked as a script doctor and his own script, God's Club, was released as a motion picture in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]