Courtesy Adobe Stock/Stanisic Vladimir

In an environment with intense housing demand, builders and developers are looking for any and all opportunity for process innovation. This Bay area start up is offering just that - a way to reduce the amount of time invested in the long permitting process, saving time and money.

As communities throughout the Bay Area struggle to house their booming populations, a local company is debuting new software it says may help cities build homes faster.

San Ramon-based Accela on Tuesday launched two new cloud-based applications to streamline and speed up the permitting process — which in many cities often gets bogged down with delays. That can help developers break ground sooner on the housing units the Bay Area so desperately needs, said Accela’s executive chairman, Mark Jung.

“You can do what you need to do faster,” Jung said, “which means you can process more…applications more quickly in a shorter amount of time.”

Developers often complain about the hoops they have to jump through to get the city permits necessary to start construction on new residential developments — a lengthy and bureaucratic process that’s about as enjoyable as a trip to the DMV. A recent report by UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation blamed lengthy and complex city permitting processes as a prime contributor to rising construction costs in San Francisco.

“There was only one factor on which all interviewees and focus group participants agreed: the most significant and pointless factor driving up construction costs was the length of time it takes for a project to get through the city permitting and development processes,” the researchers wrote.

Developers surveyed reported that building codes or plans change in the middle of the process, additional hoops seem to pop up at random, projects are subject to a shifting interpretation of existing building codes, and there is a lack of communication between the involved city agencies.

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