Denver looking for permanent permit solution

It's not a secret - Denver's booming. And the city's auditor found the department in charge of building permits is struggling to keep up.

DENVER - It's not a secret, Denver is booming. And the city’s auditor found the department in charge of building permits is struggling to keep up.

In a report released Thursday, the auditor criticized Denver's Department of Community Planning and Development for several things, including customer wait time, their “disorganized” filing system and “inefficient use of information obtained through customer feedback.”

“Because of the booming economy that we’re having their process is not able to handle the many applications for permits for construction whether it's residential or commercial construction,” said Denver Auditor Tim O’Brien. “There’s backlogs, there’s issues around storing documents, there’s issues around training.”

Andrea Burns, Communications Director for the Department of Community Planning and Development said currently there is no backlog and the department was working to resolve the issues presented by the auditor.

“Everything they’ve identified was something we were already aware of and were in the process of correcting.

There were probably a couple of things they brought to light we were unaware of that were minor. But for the most part, we’re well-aware,” Burns said.

Burns showed 9NEWS around the department. Some hallways were indeed filled with building plans.

Burns said this was not a permanent solution. She said an appropriate storage place was being built. The goal was to be able to accept submissions for big projects to be reviewed online by some time in 2018.

She told 9NEWS the department added 57 new positions in the last two years to keep up with the construction boom.

Burns also told 9NEWS, “since moving to a new permit software system in June 2015, we have been working to make online permitting possible. We’re halfway there, with e-permits for minor projects having just launched in July. Electronic document review was funded in our 2017 budget and we expect to launch it in 2018.”

O’Brien said the inefficiencies his office found in the department speak for themselves.

“This boom in the economy didn’t start in 2017, it’s been going on for a while. They do have some technology solutions. I think once they’re on line, they will provide the solutions, but technology being what it is, sometimes it takes longer to get it implemented than somebody thinks it’s going to take,” he said.

Burns said customers will be able to schedule an appointment online within the next few weeks. And while the customer wait times were not the best, the department is working to reduce those as well.

The quick permits, like roofing, siding and water heaters are already there.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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