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Working to make business permits easier

Posted: April 16, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 16, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

While codes aren’t going to change for Santa Clarita business owners making tenant improvements at their place of business, the process doesn’t have to be fraught with headaches, according to officials with the city’s Building & Safety division.

After the Valley Industry Association and the city of Santa Clarita worked to streamline the permitting processes, some small changes were made to help the process easier for local business owners.

But advance planning and preparation can go a long way to avoid the pitfalls a business can face, John Caprarelli, with Building & Safety, told members at the Valley Industry Association’s monthly luncheon.

He also encouraged business owners to enlist the support of a professional and check in with the city before even beginning the process of making changes, so they don’t caught up with lengthy delays opening a new place of business, or modifying an existing one.

Walking through a nine-step checklist of points that need to be looked into or completed, every tenant improvement and every building situation is different, Caprarelli said.

And while the city’s Building & Safety division issues the final permit, a number of codes from both city and county, as well as outside agencies, each require that certain conditions be met before a permit can be issued.

Meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act building requirements are among the many that cities strictly enforce, he said.

Only maybe one in 20 projects are approved on the first go-round, Caprarelli said. And those were usually successful because the right professionals came in early to the process and followed the recommendations given.

The city issues over 4,000 tenant improvement projects a year, he said.

To assist local businesses, however, the city has recently made some changes, according to Damon Letz, Building & Safety Division Manager.

Among the changes the city has made, is that it no longer requires Certificates of Occupancy for every new tenant, Letz said. The certificates are now “space specific” so that if a new tenant moves into a space to conduct the same kind of business as the building was previously used for, no certificate is required.

It also offers a quick plan check early in the process before the improvements get started, hoping to avoid problems farther down the road.

“The earlier you bring us in the loop, the earlier we can help you identify any issues,” Letz said.

The city’s Building & Safety division is also conducting more over the counter plan checks, based on the complexity of the plan, as opposed to the older process of submitting a plan that someone looks at behind the scenes. The goal is to save time by reviewing the plans at the time of submission, he said.

The city also has handouts to give people planning on making tenant improvements. And at some time in the future it plans to post the steps for securing permits and basic plan requirements for tenant improvements online – putting more tools in the hands of business owners up front so they can better plan and prepare.

jana@signalscv.com
661-287-5599

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