Pittsburgh officials announced plans to spend $5.6 million over five years to streamline its building permitting process, which has been blamed by some for hindering development, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The city will pay enterprise government software company Computronix to develop a software solution that allows multiple agencies to simultaneously review application documents, cutting down evaluation time. Applicants will be able to track their applications online through the entire process, and will receive a single response.
- City officials said they've already reduced review time for most projects to an average of 10.5 days, down from 27.5 days in 2011, but admitted there can be situations where it might take longer. Some developers have complained that the city's permitting process can take several months.
Just about a year ago, the Denver City Council authorized a $1.4 million spend so that the city building department could hire more employees and independent contractors to tackle the permit backlog. In addition to the city being in the midst of a building boom, the Denver Department of Community Planning said it was also seeing a high number of roofing permits, a result of 2015 hailstorms. CPD officials said it issued 75% more building permits in 2015 than it did in 2009 and expected to end 2016 with an 8% increase on top of that.
The summer of 2015 gave the CPD its biggest backlog of pending building permits ever, which resulted in reviews taking up to three times the normal time period. Some have chalked up that jump in activity to the legalization of cannabis, which has spurred grow-facility development in Denver and other major Colorado metros.
The time it takes a project to make its way through the permitting process has become a focal point of the Trump administration's general stance on infrastructure. President Donald Trump has said in the past that projects unable to get off the ground and permitted in an expedited manner could lose out on federal funding. Billionaire Richard LeFrak, who heads up the president's infrastructure task force, has suggested accelerating the environmental review and permitting process by using bankruptcy court procedures, which put one individual in charge of approvals.