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Re: Bld'g. & Safety

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IMark D. Baker, Baker Engineering wrote:

>In all fairness to the Van Nuys office, my choice of where to vent my
>frustrations (the list server) was not appropriate and for this I
>apologize.

[Bill Cain]  Although Mark's original post definitely showed significant
frustration, I do not believe it was inappropriate for him to post it on
the listserver.  One of the best ways for us to get problems solved is to
talk about them in a frank and direct way.  

Responsiveness and the customer service aspects of government is, and will
always be a problem (some of it real, some just perception, and not just in
the plan check arena) that requires continual work.  Having been on both
sides of the plan check counter, having been a city council member and
school board member and and having practiced engineering in both the public
and private sector, I believe the problem will never be completely solved.
We must all recognize that we are all people dealing with other people,
there is continual turnover and we all have "bad hair days".  But we do
need to keep on working on it.  

I applaud Mark's efforts in bringing his problem to light to give us all an
opportunity to look at what we are doing and how we are effecting others.
He had a problem that effected his business. Pointing out these effects on
the listserver gave other building departments (besides the one he had a
problem with) a chance to take a moment to think about how they are dealing
with the public. 

Plan checking should not be an "us vs them" process.  I can think of
numerous times that a plan checker has supported me in preventing a client
from cutting corners that shouldn't be cut by just saying "no, that would
be unsafe or violate the Code".  I have also experienced rude behavior that
should not have happened ( and have probably exhibited the same myself).
We all need to remember that we are working toward the same goal: to
protect the life safety of a public that trusts us all (plan checkers,
structural engineers, and yes even architects) to protect them from forces
of nature they don't fully understand.

Defensive responses to Mark's criticism are an honest expression of the
hurt felt.  We need to acknowledge that.  Also, those feeling attacked need
to evaluate what Mark's complaints were and why they occurred.  There are
probably things that can be improved on both sides of the counter.

Sorry for rambling.  But I believe that this listserver has provided an
outstanding forum where we can lay out our problems, get quick response
(even when that response may not be what we want to hear), solve the
problems and get on with life.  I hope it will continue to be so!




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BILL CAIN, SE
OAKLAND, CA
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