Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa to make getting building permits faster, easier and trackable online

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn often says Tampa's permitting system ought to be modern enough to let a builder track a permit on a smartphone.

Now City Hall is moving in that direction.

City officials said Wednesday they will buy a fully automated electronic permitting system from Accela Automation, a company based near San Francisco that provides web- and cloud-based software applications to government agencies.

The system will replace an inefficient patchwork of old software and is designed to provide businesses, homeowners and contractors with online access to permitting and licensing information.

The result, Buckhorn said, should be "quicker permits, less hassle and more money saved in lost time."

"This software will certainly make us far more user-friendly, whether it's someone adding onto their house or someone building an office tower," Buckhorn said. "Any builder who deals with the city on a regular basis knows how archaic the system is. This will be a huge improvement."

Accela Citizen Access, part of the software package, will allow businesses to apply and pay for permits, submit construction plans electronically, schedule inspections, check the status of a permit or inspection, and print an approved permit online any time, officials said.

Residents and businesses also will be able to look at maps and access permitting services from devices such as iPhones and iPads.

The software is expected to cost an estimated $2.7 million the first year, and the City Council will likely vote on its purchase later this month, officials said.

Most of the money for the system will come from the city's Construction Services Enhancement Fund, which was created a decade or more ago at the request of builders and developers.

The construction industry agreed to slight increases in permit fees in exchange for some of the money going to a special fund that has been used to buy better computers and software needed to review their applications.

As a result, "most of this is being paid for by the industry that we regulate," said Thomas Snelling, the city's acting growth management and development services director.

Once purchased, the system will likely be available to users in three or four months, he said.

For companies with construction loans, time is money. So they will welcome anything that expedites permitting.

"This has been something that the Tampa Bay Builders Association has been advocating for years," said Jennifer Doerfel, the group's executive vice president. "Gone will be the days of having to print out pages and pages and pages of building plans and make an appointment and go down and pay for parking" to apply for a permit.

Since taking office in April, Buckhorn has talked of "changing Tampa's economic DNA" to foster redevelopment, boost the local economy and make Tampa more appealing to bright young professionals.

To do that, last summer he appointed an economic competitiveness committee to study ways to change the city's reputation as a tough place to get a rezoning or a building permit.

The committee — 17 lawyers, engineers, developers, builders, plus a City Council member and a neighborhood representative — began meeting in early July.

It is expected to continue its work through at least the end of this month. But it is close to recommending changes in three areas, including the permitting upgrade announced Wednesday:

• Codes and ordinances: In a draft report, the committee describes the city's existing process as "confusing, unpredictable, time-consuming and costly for anyone trying to do business in the city." It is moving to recommend taking development regulations that are now scattered throughout the city's codes, eliminating unnecessary ones, and putting them in one unified code.

• Process and technology: Along with the new online permitting system, this is expected to include establishing a single authority over interpretations of the code and creating a more "customer-driven culture."

• Staff and organization: The committee is recommending bringing city staffers who work on different aspects of development review into one department and creating an "ombudsman" position to help facilitate complex projects.

Richard Danielson can be reached at, (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Tampa permits

FY 07FY 08FY 09FY 10FY 11


Commercial16,53613,9999,878 9,48310,062


Source: city of Tampa

Tampa to make getting building permits faster, easier and trackable online 01/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 12, 2012 8:25am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Guns, charter schools, drug education and more


    HOSTILE WORK PLACE: A legal review determines that while a University of South Florida technology center former director might have been boorish and hostile, …

  2. Fire crews battle blaze at apartment complex near Seminole Heights


    Fire crews are battling a blaze that broke out early Monday morning at an apartment complex near Seminole Heights, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

  3. PolitiFact Florida: Claim that 5.7 million noncitizens voted is wrong

    State Roundup

    President Donald Trump's unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

    Instances of noncitizens voting have been reported, but evidence points to a small number among millions of votes cast.  
  4. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton


    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  5. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack


    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures