Working Smarter
A Rare Good Decision

Los Angeles is not exactly known for prudent policymaking, as the recent $15 minimum wage increase, anti-street vendor regulations, and persistent densification plans all demonstrate. But the L.A. Department of Building and Safety recently made a rare good decision recently, transferring the City’s building permit records and regulations online for all to see. The L.A. Times has the story:

“”This system cuts red tape and improves customer service for builders, developers, and everyday Angelenos, making L.A. more attractive to key investments that create jobs,” [Mayor Eric] Garcetti said.

The online system, available through the Department of Building and Safety website, allows users to examine building permits, certificates of occupancy and other paperwork. It includes more than 13 million records dating back to 1905, which can be searched using an address, parcel number or other key information.

The new system was welcomed by business and advocacy groups. “Any time we can streamline the process and save folks the time … that’s a win not only for our industry but for the city and everyone…” “

In an age of dismayingly dysfunctional urban governance, stories like this are a breath of fresh air, especially when they come from deep blue citadels like Los Angeles. We are far into the Information Revolution, but our governmental institutions are all mostly designed for the world as it existed between the 1930s and the 1960s. Streamlining government services and making records and information transparent are both important steps towards fixing that. More of this, please.

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