Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association
2520 Camino Entrada Unit B,
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507
505.982.1774
Fax: 505.982.0238
Miles D. Conway
Executive Officer
505.455.2853
eo@sfahba.com
Tanya Doreme
Administrative Manager
tanya@sfahba.com

Letter to Members from City and County Land-Use Directors

…The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends!!!

City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County Send Letter to Members on Permitting, Inspections, Code Interpretation, and more…

 

Members and Friends of the Association,

Our Land Use Working Group has been meeting with City and County Staff and Elected Officials to address concerns around the process for permitting, inspections, code interpretation, and more.

 

We invited the Director of Growth Management at the County, Penny Ellis-Green, and [outgoing] City Land Use Director, Elias Isaacson, to update the membership on their ongoing efforts to improve the process. Please click below to read these two letters and take a second to send a short note thanking Elias and Penny for their good faith efforts to improve their systems.

 

On June 25, we will hold a follow-up meeting with the City to further drill down on timetables to improve the process and how our membership(s) can continue to create solutions. We will also soon schedule a follow-up meeting with the County to do the same.

 

We invite you to continue taking the SURVEY (survey responses will be kept anonymous, but please provide a cell phone or email so we can follow up).   It is important to know what progress you’re seeing and what concerns or ideas you have to share.

 

Keep Building Together!

Miles

Full TEXT of both Letters Below.

Letter from County

June 8, 2021

Dear Association Members,

I am pleased to be coordinating in a Land Use Working Group consisting of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, the American Institute of Architects – Santa Fe Chapter, the New Mexico Roofing Contractors Association, and Santa Fe Association of Realtors to improve our service in the Growth Management Department at Santa Fe County.

Throughout this pandemic it is clear that the construction industry continues to thrive and support our economy, our permit desk has continued to accept appointments and issue permits, though we have been slowed with reviews, inspections, and coordination with other Departments and outside entities.

It is in all of our best interests to make our process transparent and issue pe1mits within a reasonable timeframe, we have made some recent improvements to the process and we are always looking at ways to improve it further.

The County has many specific rules and requirements and we are here to help you through the process, as part of this I would like to highlight a few things we are trying to do to streamline the process:

  • The first is to remind everyone of our courtesy inspection and our availability to assist prior to a permit being From a review of a legal lot of record to a review of the legality of existing structures to on-site inspection of properties with difficult terrain, we are available to assist.
  • We have found that the use of an appointment system has been efficient in keeping an application moving and allows staff time to review and process submitted permits, we hope to keep to this system.
  • Submittal checklists for various types of residential permit applications are available on our website at https://www.santafecountynm.gov/pages.php?pageID=824
  • We are in the process of choosing an on-line permit system and have included this in our budget for this coming fiscal year, I am pleased that the Commission has supported the request and we hope to move forward with our procurement process soon, having drafted a scope and identifying potential contractors. This will do several things, firstly it will allow you to submit on-line, your information can be saved for additional permits you may submit, you will be able to check status and it will expedite the existing process of scanning or copying plans and emailing or mailing them out to others for review as we role this out, we will work with SFAHBA and the other groups to “test” the system, we are hoping we can test by the end of this year.
  • Our GIS capabilities have now been made more available to our Growth Management staff and we have the ability to produce topo, identify floodplains, drainage, and slope areas for
  • We will also be reviewing our web page, how can we make the permit page easier to find and Informational videos are another area we are exploring in order to provide assistance to clients by covering topics like how to check you have a legal lot of record, how to identify if there are unpermitted structures on the property, options for developing property with difficult terrain, etc. We will continue our work with your groups to develop and make those assets available to the public along with and other training opportunities

Permits can get delayed when the submittal is not complete and there can be many reasons for this. Contacting us early on in the design stage can greatly assist with minimizing this. We can help make sure your application is acceptable and won’t be subjected to avoidable delay.  We have design and zoning regulations throughout the County and 13 community districts, all with their own rules. It is important to know what rules apply to the property being developed as well as whether the property is a legal lot and has existing legal structures.

Lastly, I seldom hear directly about permit issues, and when I do the applicant or agent has become frustrated. If you are having a problem, don’t understand the rules, cam1ot get a call back etc., I would appreciate knowing this. I have a policy that all my staff return calls within 24 hours. There may be times a staff member has been sick and your message did not get picked up, even though we try to change voice messages and forward phones in those circumstances, things can get missed. Our team is here to help so I am including emails and phone numbers to the management team:

Paul Kavanaugh (Building and Development Supervisor)
Phone: (505) 995-2716.
Email: pkavanau@santafecountymn.gov

Vicki Lucero (Building and Development Manager)
Phone (505) 986 6222.
Email: vlopez@santafecountynm.gov

Penny Ellis-Green (Growth Management Director)
Phone (505) 986 6221
Email: pengreen@santafecountynm.gov

Ideas from you are welcome, please coordinate these through the Working Group so we can review as a team. I look forward to continuing to work with this Group to provide a better customer service for all.

 

Sincerely

Penny Ellis-Green

Santa Fe County, Growth Management Director

Letter from City Land Use Director Isaacson:

May 24, 2021

Members of Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association, AIA Santa Fe, NM Roofers Association & Santa Fe Association of Realtors,

As many of you may know, the City of Santa Fe Planning and Land Use Department is currently working with your leadership teams to improve coordination among our organization in the areas of permitting and inspections. The construction industry is essential to our local economy, and the GRT generated by your work during the COVID pandemic continues to provide a vital source of revenue to the City’s General Fund. The City’s General Fund supports many of the City’s core activities and is the primary source of funding for the Planning and Land Use Department.

The City continues to process a high volume of permit applications and requests for inspections. Just like many of you, the Planning and Land Use Department is dealing with the additional demands of our local construction boom. We are currently, on average, issuing 500 permits and conducting 2000 inspections each month. This is being achieved with significant reductions in staffing across all development review teams. The reductions in staffing are due in large part to vacancies left unfilled due to the budgetary impact of the pandemic.

The City’s FY22 Budget addresses many of our staffing challenges head-on. The Planning and Land Use will be adding 4 new positions and funding 4 existing vacancies in the coming year. These positions will significantly improve capacity in permitting and inspections, and the new positions are a direct result of feedback we received during the budget process from members like you. We will be hiring a full-time employee dedicated to responding to phone calls and emails so that your questions about applications and processing can be answered in a timely manner. We will also begin advertising these new and vacant positions at the start of the next fiscal year and hope to have them filled by early fall.

The pandemic required our Department to fundamentally change the way we interact with our customers. We are now using tools and technologies to provide electronic permitting services that were unimaginable even 18 months ago. The City is committed to ongoing process improvements and expanding these online systems even further. This will require continued collaboration with stakeholders to provide the proper training and tutorials to ensure the systems are implemented in an intuitive and user-friendly manner. We hope to continue to work closely with your organization to educate users and are exploring additional opportunities to provide workstations at City Hall and other locations to allow for better access to our Customer Self Service (CSS) platform.

Moving forward, we hope that our teams can continue to work together to streamline operations and improve the overall customer experience. I have asked that the recent stakeholder survey be done every six months so that we can see the areas where improvements have been made and where there is still work to be done. This process of incremental innovation and change will take time, but by working together we can move our organization in a direction that is beneficial to all involved and support the vital work you do for our community.

Regards,

Elias Isaacson

Planning and Land Use Director

 

cc: Alan Webber, Mayor

Jarel LaPan Hill, City Manager

Rich Brown, Director of Community Development

Jason Kluck, Assistant Land Use Director

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