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Permit Backlog Delaying Austin Builders
Have you tried to get a permit with the City of Austin lately? A backlog at the Planning and Development permit department is forcing homeowners to put their plans on hold.
Right now the city is more than two months behind and at this point there’s no telling when they’ll be able to catch up.
"As I lost staff I lost the ability and capacity to get plans out so it's kind of backed up,” said Don Birkner, the Planning and Development Review Assistant Director.
Birkner says his department has eight staffers who handle the review process. In 2012 they lost six of those eight employees, crippling the department.
"We didn't quite snap to the problem. We are getting here as fast as maybe we could have,” said Birkner.
The permit woes are having an affect across the city. Some contractors say they have employees waiting to work, but are left sitting jobless until a permit is approved.
While homeowners have to keep moving their start dates back. "It was something we always knew we wanted to do, so we finally made the big step, got the bids in, picked the contractor, started the building permit process and it just has come to a complete standstill,” said homeowner Laurie Lee.
Birkner says the department has appealed to the city council and mayor for help, but it’s not up for review until January.
Even when new employees get hired, there's about a six month training process, but no magic wand to fix the problem.
"We’re working real hard to get staff rehired to work on the problem," Birkner says.
The city is working on short term and long term plans to fix the problem. With the economy coming back they say they’ve also been overloaded with permits which has added to the backup.
By Adam Racusin