Getting Things Done at Licenses & Inspections
Do It Yourself
The City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) has an online platform called Eclipse which allows users to do a number of things online. This tool is great for license renewals including trade license and housing rental licenses. Once you set-up an account you can apply for new licenses, renew old licenses, and schedule inspections for existing permit applications all without every stepping foot in L&I.
If you don’t have an Eclipse account yet, you can set one up here.
And remember to pay very close attention to details when you’re filing an application online. If you make a mistake, you cannot make amendments using Eclipse. By the looks of it, you may think you can. However, if you have ever submitted an amendment this way you will know that Eclipse will never actually process the amendment. In order to make any changes to a license, you will need a manual override from a professional who works at L&I.
The Catacombs of the City
Although Eclipse is great for license renewals, it’s not a replacement for L&I. There are still some things you will need go to L&I for. We know, L&I isn’t your favorite place to visit. But keep reading, I have a few tips that will help you navigate the underground labyrinth that is L&I.
My first bit of advice is to use the city guides to check, and recheck all your applications BEFORE you go. There is nothing worse than pulling a ticket and waiting half an hour only to find out you didn’t properly dot your I’s and cross your T’s. The devil is in the details and, well, L&I isn’t on the ground level.
Next, I advise devising a game plan strategy. If you need prerequisite approvals, you should make those stops on your way to L&I. Many prerequisite departments are located within a block of L&I itself. And getting these approvals ahead of time prevents you from getting an additional information request, which can add weeks, even months to the process.
If you don’t need any prerequisite stamps, but you still have multiple things to get done, you should still make a plan. There may be one waiting area for L&I, but each ticket will take you to a different department. There is an order to getting things done down there. My suggestion is to move like clockwork. Literally. If you need Tax Clearance start there at the far end of the right side of the basement. Next stop will be Revenue. Licenses. And then permits.
To access each of these locations you will need to pull a ticket. If you are filing a new permit without plans you need an A ticket. If you are filing a new permit application with plans you need a B ticket. Permit pick-up C ticket. New License D ticket. Pull the wrong ticket and you won’t get the help you need. So choose wisely. And when your ticket gets called move fast, your window of opportunity is fleeting. If you miss your ticket you go straight to the back of the line.
Tricks of the Trade
Any successful expeditor will tell you, the secret to success is patience. Permits and licenses are tedious. The applications are long and detail oriented. It’s easy to make a mistake, or simply leave something out, so take your time. Stay organized, and be kind!
It should go without saying, but be nice. City employees don’t make the rules, they simply have to abide by them just like the rest of us. Try to get on their good side, it makes waiting around less painful, and it gets you access to the best information resource. When it comes to how the city operates, most of the information isn’t online, I doubt if it is even written down.