The Technologically Thriving City of El Cajon, California

  • Industry: Municipal
  • Location: El Cajon, California
  • Employees: 455
  • Population: 105,000
  • Tyler Client Since: 2012
  • Tyler Products Used: Enterprise Permitting and Licensing, e-Reviews, Civic Access, My Civic


The suburban city of El Cajon, California, sits on the cusp of San Diego and reflects the beauty and inclusivity amongst its vast immigrant population. With residential, multi-family housing, and active commercial and economic development underway, “there is a need to serve all sorts of people at our permitting counter and online,” said Sara Diaz, El Cajon’s director of Information Technology & project manager.

“Our permit application workflow used a homegrown access database and the process was slow,” explained Diaz. “At the time, it was very common for people to come back to the permitting counter multiple times.” The municipality needed to modernize its technology to meet both customer and staff expectations. Those needs became amplified when faced with COVID-19; having to provide customer service with no in-person interaction.

To meet constituent needs and optimize efficiency the city of El Cajon sought to implement a solution that would:

  • Manage comprehensive permitting, regulations, reviews and approval, and inspection activities
  • Allow for citizen engagement online
  • Increase staff efficiency
  • Automate and streamline processes


El Cajon went live with Enterprise Permitting & Licensing in October 2019, and then launched the public-facing Civic Access web portal, electronic plan review (eReviews), and My Civic mobile app in March of 2020. The original plan was to start with a small subset of permit and plan types for these citizen self-service applications. Then came the pandemic and they needed to pivot.

As lockdowns started in mid-March across the country, El Cajon shifted their configuration team to focus entirely on enhancing citizen self-service applications. This allowed them to get it up and running in record time. According to Diaz, “By April 1st, we had a way to submit every single permit or plan type online.”

Clients also had the ability to pay fees online. “In the past, they had to come in, meet with someone from finance, and go through that whole cash register process to get an assigned permit. Tyler’s Civic Access portal took care of that for us,” shared Diaz. Furthermore, the My Civic mobile app allowed users to submit issues around the city and get instant responses sharing the real-time status of what they had reported. “The vast majority of our public work tickets that come in through the app are now resolved within 48 hours,” shared Diaz.

Users of the Enterprise Permitting & Licensing software at El Cajon were quick to adopt the new technology and processes because many were involved in the implementation process. Administrative leaders and staff ensured that subject matter experts were on configuration teams and advocates were seen and available. “Having somebody on the floor, who’s not only a champion but can do that first-level support, is amazing for adoption,” shared Diaz. “We had great success with Enterprise Permitting & Licensing and are now using that as our standard for all other implementations.”

Clients love it. We love it. It’s easy on both sides. Technology has enhanced our ability to provide a more personal, human touch, which is a fantastic thing.

Sara Diaz

Director of Information Technology & Project Manager for Implementations for multiple Tyler products


El Cajon’s shift to a digital community development solution will allow them to support the diverse dynamics of a growing community. Enterprise Permitting & Licensing paved the way for efficient and effective deployment of Tyler’s client-facing solutions, eReviews, Civic Access, and My Civic when the pandemic struck.

As a result of the efficient and effective implementation of the Enterprise Permitting & Licensing System, the city of EL Cajon maneuvered through the deployment of the Civic Access portal very quickly during the start of the pandemic. This was “something we never imagined but was essential for ensuring business continuity and public safety,” shared Diaz.

eReviews enables El Cajon to administer their plan review and submittal process within a paperless, browser-based environment. It makes it easy to submit permit applications, view files and attachments, launch Bluebeam, review resubmittals, issue new permits, and check submittal statuses on multiple devices. With a new streamlined process, the city can push through reviews quicker, and fewer resubmittals are required.

The Civic Access portal allows residents and contractors to check in on an application’s status at their convenience, resulting in real-time process updates. Plus, the ability to process transactions online saves a significant amount of time since clients no longer need to drive to City Hall to pay in person. Clients can get their permits as soon as they are available by downloading them from the portal.

The new systems allow for a higher level of reporting at the management level. “It’s very easy to see our transactions and permits issued, as well as track queues and turnaround times,” shared Diaz. “In our homegrown system, we were just trying to document, we weren’t trying to get the stats, so this is an added bonus.”

The future looks bright for El Cajon, according to Diaz. “We are going live with Tyler’s Enterprise ERP in the coming year, and then we start on Enterprise Asset Management implementation. So, from a management perspective, it’s a pretty exciting time.”

The vast majority of our public work tickets that come in through the [My Civic] app are now resolved within 48 hours.

Sara Diaz

Director of Information Technology & Project Manager for Implementations for multiple Tyler products

Case Study Highlights

  • Managed comprehensive permitting, regulations, reviews and approval, and inspection activities
  • Allowed for citizen engagement online
  • Increased staff efficiency

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