March 2015 Development Services Department Update

Department Updates

The purpose of this update is to give the reader a progress report of the efforts being pursued at the newly formed Development Services Department.  We seek continuous improvement, innovation and accountability.  The following newsletter is an account of our efforts over the last month.  These accomplishments are a progress report of our Quarterly Goals that relate to our Annual Work Plan. 

March 2015

Director's Note

The Development Services Team wrapped up the first quarter of 2015 accomplishing some of the goals that were set out in our Action Plan for the year which can be seen below by division. At the Council meeting on March 23 Palo Alto was named as one of only three cities in California to receive an Insurance Services Office (ISO) Class 1 rating under its code for Development Services. The Class 1 rating indicates that the City maintains the highest standards for structural safety, and it also reduces the cost of insurance for the community. You can access the press release here. The Business Registry Certificate Program launched and to date we have over 700 businesses signed up. More details can be seen below under Project Coordination. As part of the 2015 Action Plan, one of the goals was Emergency Response and selected staff members will be participating in the “Able Response” Event on Thursday, April 23, 2015 in conjunction with the Office of Emergency Services (OES) and other participating departments. May begins Building Safety Month and there will be some opportunities to get some information about building safety.  For more information stay tuned for a press release that will be sent out with more information regarding dates and times.  Finally, we met with the Development Center Advisory Group to review the 2015 Action Plan and updated the group on our efforts as well as highlighted areas that they wanted us to focus on. To access the DCAG retreat outcomes, check this [Link].

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us.

With Warmest Regards,

Peter signature

Peter Pirnejad

Project Coordination


On March 2, 2015 the City of Palo Alto launched the new Business Registry Certificate Program. The Business Registry Certificate (BRC) is an online tool, developed for the City of Palo Alto,, to obtain essential data regarding businesses located within the City. Most of the questions are basic to your business, so it should take just a few minutes to sign up. A flat fee of $50 is required. For more information call 650-329-2360 or visit:

We've hired and trained two new staff memebers to help support the BRC program.

Project Coordination has also implemented a process to query permits and email applicants before their permit applications expire.


Planning Department

 We have hired a New Planning technician.

We are assisting the Green Building consultant on web Page Updates and with staff trainings.

For all Planning and Transportation areas of interest and recently approved projects please refer to our department web pages at:

Building Plan Check

Staff has been meeting regularly with OES and Fire Department to develop disaster response measures.  Currently staff is focusing drafting an emergency response plan including an evacuation plan for the Development Center.

Selected staff members will be participating in the “Able Response” Event on Thursday, April 23, 2015 in conjunction with OES and other participating departments.

Created the Seismic Risk Management Program RFP.  This RFP has been posted and the response deadline is Tuesday, April 28, 2015.
Staff has been researching the requirements of SB 2188 (State Legislation to Expedite PV and Solar Water Heating Permit Applications and Inspections) and reviewing corresponding Tool Kits and Model Ordinance  published by the Center for Sustainable Energy.

Created and distributed Master Plan Review Comment Letters for both Residential and Commercial projects.  These documents establish a template and standard for initial and sequential reviews.  

Created and distributed an updated Gas or Diesel Generator Plan Review Submittal Checklist.  This document applies to both Residential and Commercial applications.

Building Inspection

All inspectors has certified in ATC20 and have been registered with  California OES (Office of Emergency Services )

Existing Disaster Response Kits have been inspected and a list of perishable components have been identified and will be replaced.

Permit notification has not been started. Consultant will be required to create automatic noticing in Accela.

Green Building Specialist Inspector  has been working with our Green Building Consultant to create green building guidebook .

Accessibility Specialist has training front counter staff and created metric’s to track progress of “ AccessPreWalk Program

Residential Bundling and Commercial “ TIPOFF “ initiatives have had some positive customer reviews. Most recently 456 University was able to take advantage of an early start  and timely completion using the  TIPOFF protocol.

Development Center Staff achieved BEGS #1 rating for Building Code Enforcement on March 23,2015

Public Works

Evaluated and updated Public Works fees and staff allocations to the Development Services Department.

Hired Elise Willis as an Urban Forestry technician for development permit review; training is ongoing.

Completed the final California Avenue Parking Assessment process and closeout of the bond fund

Fire Prevention Bureau

Completed Fee Study

Completed Fire Marshal Promotional Process

Accela Fire Module went Live- we are currently Beta Testing and building out Reports for meaningful Metrics

Knox Box orders now available online

Utilities Department - CPAU

To reduce application errors/omissions, CPAU provided power point slides to DC, developed new guidelines, and drafted process changes for submittals.

(Contractor) GreenTraks is working with 9 businesses and 2 city facilities in Palo Alto (of 22 total) collecting energy usage information for each site.

Utilities has evaluated and proposed reforms for the inspection process that will be implemented throughout 2015.

Utilities, Development Services and the Green Building Advisory Committee will use the Green Building Ordinance process to reach out to architects and builders about SOTA green design and construction techniques.

Utilities will modify business processes to support the DC as first point of permit contact, increase/improve answering of questions at the DC, and ensure engineer availability at Elwell, when needed, for applicants.

Utilities created new outlines of application processes, corrected web pages, clarified Conditions of Approval, and created computerized applications to ensure completeness and legibility.