County merges public works and planning into one department

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to integrate the planning and public works departments, a move officials say will streamline services and improve customer service.

Officials will immediately begin creating the new department, called the Department of Community Development and Infrastructure, with full integration expected within a year, Public Works Director Matt Machado said.

The two departments have been “co-located” on the fourth floor for decades, Machado said.

“It really benefited us a lot,” he said. “The adjacency has enabled coordination and collaboration, which has benefited all the services we provide. We seek to strengthen coordination and collaboration through integration.

The centerpiece of the new department will be the Unified Permit Center, whose focus on customer service, pre-application approvals and real-time plan verification is a response to years of complaints from residents who struggled through mountains of red tape as they navigated the county. notoriously Byzantine rules.

“With a counter where our Public Works staff and our Planning staff work side-by-side and work together to improve processes, we expect our goals to be met,” Machado said.

Supervisor Bruce McPherson called the move “a long time coming”.

“I just think it’s great,” he said. “It’s been a long-standing initiative for us to improve our customer service.”

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