Vanessa Bechtel, VCCF
Economic Development Collaborative
"The County’s Service Excellence Program has been honored for its work in the development and implementation of a streamlined permitting process and the creation of a Permit Navigator position to support businesses and individuals going through the permitting process.
The Ventura County Economic Development Association presented its first “From Red Tape to Red Carpet Award” to the County Executive Office. Deputy Executive Officer Paul Stamper and Continuous Process Improvement Manager Rachel Linares accepted the award at the association’s 48th Annual Business Outlook Conference on October 5. VCEDA intends to present the award annually.
“It’s an honor to have VCEDA choose the County as the first recipient of this award, and Paul and Rachel are deserving of the recognition,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer. “They run our Service Excellence program for process improvement, which has led to $33 million in ongoing savings over the past 10 years.”
Linares, who has a doctorate in business administration, serves as the County’s newly designated Permit Navigator. The need for the position was identified during the community meetings held for the development of the County of Ventura Economic Vitality Strategic Plan. The Permit Navigator works countywide and across departments such as the Resource Management Agency, Public Works and the Fire Protection District to improve customer service, provide mediation and continuously improve permitting processes.
“VCEDA advocates for programs that stimulate business and support a vital economy,” said Sandy Smith, VCEDA Chair and a land use consultant for Sespe Consulting, Inc. “By streamlining the permit process and having someone to address problems, the County is making it easier for businesses to thrive here and for people to invest in their quality of life. VCEDA is serious about cutting red tape, and the County is doing it.”
The most recent example of an improvement to the permit process was the development of an expedited process for people who lost their homes to the Thomas Fire. The process is designed to speed up the reconstruction plan review and permitting process and to get an applicant through the plan check stage in just two weeks.
“Through the Service Excellence program, we’ve completed more than 1,100 improvements across our agencies and service areas,” said Powers. “As a result, we’ve shortened wait times, offered higher quality services and more online access to services, and extended hours of service. We’re reducing overhead costs and that translates into freezing or minimizing fee increases, freeing up resources to further enhance our programs and services.”
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