Santa Cruz launches business permitting app

notary public

The city of Santa Cruz, California is modernizing its business permitting process with the launch of a new app – OpenCounter. The application is the most recent work result of the city’s Code For America fellowship. Now business will be able to apply for permits 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through an online process.

Designed and developed throughout 2012, OpenCounter reduces the confusion of starting a business by creating an online experience that helps small business owners discover the City forms, fees, and time needed to set up shop and apply for them online in a single web session.

The smallest city ever to utilize a Code for America development team, Santa Cruz’s collaboration also saw the development of an open data portal at, improved City Hall wayfinding and newly painted bike lockers downtown.

Santa Cruz’s partnership with Code for America was supported by a number of generous donations from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, the Cities of Scotts Valley, Watsonville and Los Gatos and the Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance.

The app will be officially launched today at an event including city officials. According to a blog post from Code For America, coders worked on the project from as far away as Scotland and memorized the city’s permitting rules in order to bring them online.