By Christie Marcella
Economic Development Manager
City of Carlsbad
Local businesses will find it easier to apply for and renew business licenses by using the new online services system that the City of Carlsbad has installed to streamline processes. The new service is part of an initiative that will ultimately allow businesses and homeowners to perform numerous tasks online that they currently must conduct by visiting city offices.
When fully operational, the system will enable homeowners and businesses to apply for development permits, track progress, request inspections and notify the city of code issues from their home or office. The goal of the system, called EnerGov, is to combine several tasks currently handled by different programs, unifying them under a single digital umbrella to increase efficiency.
City of Carlsbad Community and Economic Development Director Glen Van Peski says that increasing the number of tasks that businesses can perform online will translate into substantial savings in time and money to city residents and customers.
To access the online tools, businesses and residents will have to create an online account, which will enable them to manage their permits, licenses and code issues from one place.
“We’re implementing this system to add transparency and provide people additional choices for interacting with the city,” said Van Peski. “They still have the option of meeting directly with a skilled staff person. The customer gets to select the most comfortable option.”
City staff has been working for nearly two years with EnerGov’s developer to import historical data into the new system, change internal processes and bring current work up to speed on the city’s end. Getting the new system in place and changing decades-old processes is the first leap toward the long-term goal of paperless plan review.
“When we roll out digital submittals in the next phase, business owners won’t have to drive down to the city to do business,” Van Peski said. “They can work from the comfort of their office or home, at the time that’s most convenient for them.” Paperless plan review will also incorporate existing technology like electronic signatures, and will require the introduction of new computer hardware, such as larger monitors to display intricate engineering drawings, as well as software.
Paperless review is a few years off, but businesses and residents can expect to see gains this year. Inspectors are in the field today with mobile devices to enter results in real time. Online payment of outstanding invoices will eliminate the need to bring or send checks to the city. Some over-the-counter permits like reroofs, residential solar and certificates of occupancy will be accepted and processed online. Those with existing permits will be able to request inspections from the home, office or field. Review information will be visible to the applicants and developers of their projects.
As staff works to expand the functionality of the system and move toward digital reviews, applicants will be able to see more information about their project once they’re logged into their account. That will allow customers to interact with the staff member working on their project directly, to help resolve issues and move the project through the process.
At present, the new online services system allows businesses to apply for and renew licenses. It has a dynamic form to submit new business license applications and changes to existing business information.
This is the virtual tip of the iceberg. In the future, many tasks that businesses conduct in person will be accessible digitally, making it easier to do business with the city. Follow city news for updates as new capabilities of the system are rolled out. The best is yet to come.