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Director's Advisory Group Update November 2016

Published:  November 14, 2016


Steve Brown
Karen Giovannini
Rene deMonchy
Eric Koenigshofer
Neil Peoples
Greg Swaffar


Tennis Wick  
Nathan Quarles


1. Tennis Wick congratulated Lynda Hopkins Supervisor Elect 5th District. Permit

Sonoma is looking forward to working with Lynda.

2. Permit Sonoma Website and Agency Updates

Tennis is rebranding agency Permit Sonoma. The website, business cards, scales and lanyards and Permit Sonoma URL will be updated. Website improvements will be user friendly. Maggie Fleming is working on the website to find search criteria by subject matter, staff project assignments and measuring metrics for agency performance. Meaningful icons and providing a rational hierarchy for website are of high importance. Metrics will include the time it takes to process applications and how many applications are submitted to the agency. Images for the Permit Sonoma website were discussed. Some pictures and images are chosen by Sonoma County Information Systems Department. Tennis discussed planning applications. A priority is the culture in which applications are processed and complete. This needs to be done well and timely. Staff training in critical analysis for review of applications is necessary to increase efficiency and analysis. Plancheck is a high performing part of the organization. Permit Sonoma has a great mapping service on the website. Eric Koenigshofer expressed difficulty with Active Map and physical noticing. Tennis discussed social media as a vehicle for public information. Greg Swaffer asked about workload issues. Tennis talked about good new staff hires. Recent hires are newly graduates of various planning disciplines. New staff is coming from California and Oregon. New staff are questioning processes, have good ideas and talent. It will take time to train new staff. Tennis discussed the Permit Sonoma link: The Link from Montgomery County Maryland was referenced as a busy website:

3. Cannabis Ordinance

Tennis reviewed copies of the cannabis ordinance with DAG. A balance of existing grows between neighborhood compatibility and safety is the goal. Community meetings are asking about aggressive cannabis grows and land use

ramifications. Organized crime is a huge factor with the cannabis business in Sonoma County. The Cannabis Use Table created and developed by Jennifer Barrett and Amy Lyle is professional and well done. Proposition 64 will change personal grows. Commercial cultivation can be prohibited in Sonoma County.

4. Communication Problems

Please let Tennis know of staff members not returning emails or phone calls. There is a 24 hour turnaround time for responding to email and phone messages. Nathan is doing and excellent job with staff time management training. If you have difficulty with a project or communicating with staff, check with Tennis, he can research and provide an update. Tennis is meeting on a weekly basis with the planning section management team reviewing application status, completeness of applications and environmental review projects. Tennis is also reading every planning commission staff report and will bring in another consulting firm to process applications. He is working with Nathan and Gabe Gabrielson to train staff regarding physical planning, contours, scales, measuring grade, measuring cuts, etc. Classes are currently being designed to train all staff, new and existing. Training with critical thinking and analysis takes time and Tennis is committed to improving the planning section.

5. Winery Special Events Staff Report

The Winery Events Study Session was edited by Tennis and Jeff Brax. It adopts a limited resolution of Intention for development of specific code amendments and has staff develop standards and criteria for areas of local concentration. Dry Creek Westside and Sonoma Valley are areas staff will develop criteria for problem solving. Two planners are dedicated to answering all vacation rental questions. Permit Sonoma has a YouTube channel with vacation rental information.

6. Well & Septic Staffing Problems

Steve Brown discussed concerns with Well and Septic projects not being in one person's hands. Nathan is using a time tracking system to developed metrics and expectations for staff. The Well and Septic section has had a high turnover with hiring over the last two years. Well and Septic has not been fully staffed in two years. Registered Environmental Health Specialists are difficult to hire and find experienced candidates. Well and Septic has hired trainees, but registered people are hard to recruit. A program improvement starting in January 2017 will allow for different classifications of this position. There is a possibly of hiring engineers, while continuing to recruit for REH I, II, or III.

2017 Meeting Schedule

PRMD Front Conference Room, 4:00 pm
January 9, 2017
March 13, 2017
May 8, 2017
July 10, 2017
September 11, 2017
November 13, 2017

Contact Information

JoAnn Barker

Permit & Resource Management Department
County of Sonoma
Contact us by Phone

Permit Sonoma (PRMD)

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