Building permit approval slows in Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Builders and homeowners are seeing longer waits for build permits, city records show. A draft report also highlights issues at the city’s Planning Development and Review Department and recommends changes.

“It seems like they’re taking longer now than ever. But a standard building permit for a residential project can take anywhere from as little as four to six weeks to up to four to six months, if it gets really complicated,” said David Cancialosi, owner of Permit Partners, LLC.

A look at Planning and Development Review Department records shows that last year it took an average of 27 days from application review to final approval of a residential building permit. Through February this fiscal year, that’s taking 33 days. Commercial permits are also taking longer to approve going from 97 days to 108.

“A lot of the times we’re wondering what’s taking so long, why does it take so many people to make a single decision,” asked Cancialosi.

A third-party draft report from Zucker Systems recommends hundreds of changes for the department and city process. A proposed resolution would also direct the city manager to create a plan to eliminate the city’s backlog.

“We note that the negative responses we received in this survey are the worst we have seen in our national studies including many Texas communities,” the draft report notes.

The report recommends immediately adding 21 positions, improvements to management, and the department needs an additional $4 million in its budget, among other suggestions.

The Planning and Development Review Department would not do an on-camera interview with KXAN News Thursday. Members of the department were at a city council meeting and spoke on the resolution.

“The story of the city’s development code and process will provide the context for understanding that today’s issues and problems are not new, and for the most part, they were not unknown,” said Rodney Gonzales, acting director of the city’s Development Services Department at the council meeting.

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