Join The Atlas to access free features for city officials & staff like: posting questions, favoriting case studies & more!

Unsupported Browser

We've detected an older browser version that will not give you the best experience while using The Atlas. Please consider revisitng this site after downloading one of the alternatives below.

City of Santa Monica: online workflow tools improve digital services, efficiency, and compliance

Santa Monica, CA, USA
In Collaboration With
City of Santa Monica

Goverment Champion

City of Santa Monica, Department of Transportation, Mobility and Street Services Divisions


5 Thousand USD
5 Thousand USD

Project Status

Operational since 2016

Challenges Addressed

Citizen Engagement
Open Data
Civic Technology
Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety
Mobility & Access
Digital Government


Smart city
Sustainable city

Funding / Financing

General Fund/Existing Public Funds
Taxes & User Fees

Project Type


At a Glance

Santa Monica uses the CityGrows cloud platform to bring their workflows (permit and license processes) online. Moving off of paper increases efficiency, compliance, and constituent and staff satisfaction. Constituents complete processes 75% faster, pay online, and are more likely to submit/comply/ renew.

Problem Addressed

Santa Monica's Transportation team wanted to improve their transit demand management(Worksite Transportation Plan/ WTP) reporting process and block party permit applications by bringing them online, but didn't have funds for standalone technology solutions or in-house resources to customize a legacy system. Businesses and residents were frustrated by having to complete extensive paper forms, having to come into City Hall in person, or waiting for mailed notification of whether their submissions were received and their payment amounts were correct. The WTP process took 6-8 weeks to complete. City staff was spending time on data entry, answering calls from businesses and individuals about the status of their permits and payments, and shuffling loads of paper from desk to desk. They didn't have resources to build a standalone website or configure another department's systems to match their process. Their IT department had estimated it could cost $250,000 to build a custom solution, just for one of the department's workflows.

The City of Santa Monica used/is using CityGrows, a low-cost, cloud-based workflow management platform to address this/these challenge(s).

Solution(s) Used

The City of Santa Monica used CityGrows' web-based process management platform to set up their own multi-step workflows (collecting information, setting up internal reviews, accepting online payments) and then added the links for each to their existing website. Almost immediately, 90+% of businesses elected to use the online submission option, and the City saw the number of Block Party permit applications triple in under a month. Applicants are able to check the status of their permit, staff can quickly communicate via the platform to resolve any issues, and CityGrows' data validation tools cut down on errors. With CityGrows, applicants complete their processes 75% faster, and staff spend time with constituents who need more help, rather than doing data entry. The City is bringing more and more workflows onto CityGrows, making their operations more efficient, increasing participation and compliance, and increasing their revenue.


  1. 75% reduction in time to complete a permit/ license process
  2. 90+% of applicants choose to use the online option
  3. Significant reduction in data entry errors and delays because of real-time data validation
  4. Increased utilization and revenue
  5. Management staff can more easily see status of individual applications and track performance metrics

Something Unique

The City was open to working with startups, and had created "Hack the Beach" a challenge program to improve technology and operations. At the time, CityGrows was a very young company, and working with Santa Monica was incredibly important in our growth as a company.

Who Should Consider?

Small and medium-sized municipalities and counties seeking to transition to online services and improve operations, especially those with budget, time, and technology constraints.

Want to message the folks involved in this case study? Want to favorite it? You need to log in!