Placer County has created an ombudsman position in the Lake Tahoe area to help applicants steer their projects through the review process more easily and quickly.
The new position, in the Community Development Resource Agency, is designed to help customers in working with the agency's planning, building, engineering and surveying departments.
Steve Buelna, a supervising planner in the Tahoe office, has been named ombudsman.
A similar post will likely be created for the west side of the county, said Robert Miller, county spokesman, in a news release.
The job was established, Miller said, because the Tahoe area, "with its numerous overlapping layers of regulatory authority, can be a difficult path to follow for those wishing to start, expand or change a business."
"In this new role as ombudsman, it is important to note that (Buelna) will act as an advocate for the customer," said Michael Johnson, the agency's director.
Buelna will act as the county's single point of contact and communication and will have the authority to work with, and provide direction to, all agency division staff, Johnson said.
The ombudsman idea arose from discussion between North Tahoe business leaders and county staff on how to improve customer service and business development in the Tahoe basin, Miller said.
"With the oversight and assistance of the ombudsman, staff will move projects through the review process in a timely manner so that the project can be considered by the decision makers," he said.
One of the decision makers, 5th District County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, said Buelna "has already been extremely helpful to a number of small-business owners moving through what can be a confusing and challenging permitting process."
When a similar position is filled in Auburn, "Placer County will have taken a bold step to better, more responsive customer service," said Montgomery, whose district includes the county's portion of the Lake Tahoe basin.