Overhaul of City’s Building Permitting and Inspections System Takes Next Step
Wednesday Sep 20th, 2023
Accela Professional Services Agreement Approved
Today, the Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved SB-23-11962, the master professional services agreement with Accela. Accela will be responsible for the overhaul and replacement of the City’s permitting and inspections system, with the goal of creating a web-based, user-friendly design with an improved approval cycle.
Permitting services in the City of Baltimore include zoning, plans review, permit processing, inspections, and enforcement. These services support the safety of residents by ensuring that work complies with the city building code, state laws, and construction/occupancy standards. The City issues over 40,000 permits annually, and multiple agencies have a role in the permitting and inspections process.
The City is investing approximately $6 million to overhaul its system ($3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and almost $3 million in additional city dollars) over six years.
“An efficient and user-friendly permitting and inspections system bolsters our broader growth strategy for Baltimore City, and an overhaul of this system is long overdue,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “My administration has taken great strides to modernize numerous aspects of how City government runs, and this is an exciting part of that process. We already have the lowest number of vacants in decades, but modernizing our permitting operations in this way will aid vacant reduction and aligns with our goals of building clean & healthy communities. This system upgrade will encourage even more investment and enable better collaboration among multiple agencies with a cloud-based system.”
DHCD has been preparing for this transition, surveying stakeholders, convening focus groups, conducting public surveys, and issuing a statement of work.
“We are committed to making the permitting and inspection process open, stakeholder-focused, and results-oriented,” said Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy. “With today’s BOE approval of our contract with Accela, we are one step closer to vastly elevating our capabilities and improving operations, both for the internal users of the system and the external customers.”
Plans include a completely new customer service training academy for all agencies that review permits and the creation of a Permit Liaison position to assist small developers, minority developers, and non-profit developers in navigating the permitting process when rehabilitating vacant properties.
This transition is a complex and involved matter as there are several steps in the permitting and inspections process. Accela is known for its end-to-end support. The firm extends its services beyond software provision, encompassing comprehensive assistance in the installation, management, and support of its platform.
When considering software construction timelines, testing, and training, DHCD anticipates a 12–14-month timeline before fully implementing the new system.