Backlog of Honolulu Building Permits Taking Toll on Revenues

Jake

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There is a significant backlog for Honolulu's Department of Planning and Permitting, or DPP for short. There is now close to 20,000 applications for just 2023 alone, but only fewer than 15,000 or so permits have been issued.

Property owners and developers are facing longer wait times for approvals, in turn delaying the process even further. This is only resulting in financial losses and postponed construction starts.

One thing that needs to be done, is to modernize. The DPPs turnover rate for staff is high. The big reasons are due to outdated systems and inconsistent application quality. The department wasn't good when it came to processing permits efficiently, and it doesn't help that their computer systems made it worse. The need is to standardize procedures.

Something needs to change soon though, as these continued delayed with permit approvals are costing Honolulu millions in possible tax revenue and permit fees. Some things that have been brought up to fix it were to increase staff salaries, streamline the permitting process, and last but not least is to implement modern tech to improve efficiency.

Do you think they can make this happen? Read more on this news here: DJC Oregon
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Location
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Streamlining the process is ideal. Especially if there are so many waiting for permits to clear. It's good to see they're trying to do the needed work to improve on the overall experience and service though.

They need to enact a system that can better keep track of the permits, and especially help people obtain them in due time, not keep them waiting for extended periods of time. This not only costs them money, but the people wiaitng for the permits are also dealing with costs due to the wait.
 
In my opinion, I believe they've they'd be better served by investing in better training and hiring more staff. There are some things that technology and modernization just won't fix.
 
There is a significant backlog for Honolulu's Department of Planning and Permitting, or DPP for short. There is now close to 20,000 applications for just 2023 alone, but only fewer than 15,000 or so permits have been issued.

Property owners and developers are facing longer wait times for approvals, in turn delaying the process even further. This is only resulting in financial losses and postponed construction starts.

One thing that needs to be done, is to modernize. The DPPs turnover rate for staff is high. The big reasons are due to outdated systems and inconsistent application quality. The department wasn't good when it came to processing permits efficiently, and it doesn't help that their computer systems made it worse. The need is to standardize procedures.

Something needs to change soon though, as these continued delayed with permit approvals are costing Honolulu millions in possible tax revenue and permit fees. Some things that have been brought up to fix it were to increase staff salaries, streamline the permitting process, and last but not least is to implement modern tech to improve efficiency.

Do you think they can make this happen? Read more on this news here: DJC Oregon
Unfortunately this is not new news.....Hawaii government departments as a whole have BIG issues with inefficiency. Oahu is actually better than some of the others. The implementation of the EPIC fail system, as I call it, for permitting did not help. I can say this because it took over 2 years, yes I said 2 YEARS, to get a yurt permit from Hawaii County. They shut the entire permitting office down for 2 weeks in 2021 when EPIC was brought in and they are still struggling with it. Although I've heard review time recently has been less than 2 months for my friends projects. You also have people in charge that aren't excited about changing anything. There should be a well defined process posted for the public, with examples of site plans for various different types of projects and a list of what different types of plans must contain for different projects. There should be a standard list of what is expected on a survey. There is definitely preferential treatment when it comes to contractors because certain contractors had very little problem getting permits for large expensive homes, while small ones sat in permit purgatory. Hawaii County just adopted 2018 IBC in 2021.....still a long way to go.
When we were going through the permit process they were still doing paper plans...mind you this started in 2019 and of course COVID didn't help. A BIG part of the issue is when they received plans they would only send them to one person at a time and instead of addressing the comments once a complete review was done by everyone, they would ask for new plans every time there was an issue. So there could be different versions of plans for the same project. Normally once a review is done the only people getting revisions should be the ones requesting them and one new set of plans should be turned in with all the requested revisions. The Hawaii plan reviewers are not consistent. We always had to have a single family home review done in 10 business days in SC...unless there was a big problem.
Another thing that may or may not be a problem is the inspectors are not properly trained. My husband told me when an inspector showed up on the jobsite they were using a tablet to tell them what to look for. Now as a building inspector, if you were ICC Certified and had gone through proper training with your department you should know what to look for. My husband said it was if they had zero construction experience.
Now you don't need a ton of technology or money to make things more efficient. When I worked for a municipality in SC we used Dropbox for builders/design professionals to upload documents for review, that included PDF of the plans and the application. Eventually Bluebeam was added. Anybody doing plans knows how a PDF works, no more paper except the jobsite copy that's been stamped for permitting. Once plans were received the review coordinator would send them to the various different departments for review. The standard was Building, Zoning, Public Works, Addressing, Planning, Flood, Police & Fire. All these reviewers have access to the digital files for their review. The project tracking sheet was also digital and they would sign off by selecting accept, deny from a drop down menu or they could request additional information but still approve. The applicant would then get an email from the Plans Expeditor for what has been approved or denied. When revisions came back they were sent back out to those specifically requesting something but not to those who had signed off. That SC municipality still uses the good old DOS based AS400 for permitting and running reports.
 

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