by Yolanda Bundy, Chief Building Official City of Ventura
The Building and Safety Division is the City office that issues building permits for construction projects in Ventura, such as new housing developments, commercial structures, small residential remodeling projects, or the installation of solar panels on a commercial or residential structure. The permitting process embraces all aspects of building construction – life/safety, structural, plumbing, electrical and mechanical – and is based upon the mandated state building codes, regulations and city ordinances.
In the past year, Building and Safety has experienced an influx of projects, ranging from large developments, to tenant improvements, to home remodeling projects. Currently our Building and Safety counter (room 117, City Hall) serves approximately 800 to 1200 walk-in customers each month. Some of the services that we provide include issuing building permits, answering building code questions, processing Public Records Requests and assisting architects, engineers, owner-builders and contractors with their building plans. We have processed an average of over 4,300 permit applications for the past two years and are on track to exceed a total of 4,500 permit applications that will have been processed by the end of 2017.
The number of plan checks received and reviewed is expected to exceed over 5,000 this year, topping last year’s record number of 4,400 plan checks. Our inspection volume has increased tremendously over this past year as a result of the many projects and building activities in our community, with a steadily increasing monthly average of 1,200 per month. As a point of reference, our office was conducting an average of 600 monthly inspections just two years ago, so the increase in construction has had a definite impact on all aspects of our operations.
While this construction activity can be seen by all in the medical hub of Midtown, at the Harbor, in the housing projects on the east end, the commercial projects on South Victoria, new dealerships at the Auto Center and prominently along the Highway 101 corridor with Kaiser Permanente’s clinic in final construction activity, it is important to note that the planned and predicted population growth rate of .88% in the 2005 General Plan remains only at .45% population growth over the ten year period from 2006-2016, per Department of Finance data. This growth rate when applied to “predicted” development activity shows that the City is growing at 45% – residential, 27% – industrial, 22% – hotel, 17% – retail, 14% – office of the totals identified in the General Plan.
These percentages through end of 2016 account for all built and under construction, but also approved projects not yet issued building permits. The city is in year 12 of a 20-year General Plan projection period with the expectation in 2018 to commence a 3-year effort to formally update the General Plan, which will include significant community and City Council engagement to determine our land uses and community development for a new projection period.
Building and Safety is committed to continuing to work with all community members to ensure that each project is reviewed in a timely manner and that we provide the best possible customer service for our city.