Construction Backlog Spurs Denver's Permit Office

June 22, 2016

Monday, Denver's City Council set aside nearly $1.4 million for the Department of Community Planning and Development (CPD) to spend on more staff and an expanded contract with an outside firm to help with plan reviews and roof inspections. The inspections are running behind in large part because of new roofs installed after hail storms last year, CPD says.

CPD’s office issued 73,783 building permits last year, nearly 9 percent more than in 2014. and the department projects an additional 8 percent increase in permits this year. The department has seen a 75 percent increase in permits since 2009.

“This is not just a catch-up request,” CPD executive director Brad Buchanan told council members last week when the supplemental budget request was introduced on the floor. “This is a ‘stay caught up’ request.”

Contractors in the Denver area have been facing 12 week wait times, three times the department's goal of a 4-week turnaround on applications. Denver's landmark preservation staff also has struggled to keep up with a 27 percent increase in reviews.

CPD expects the delay to increase as the building season moves along, despite adding 15 new trainee permit reviewers this year because new reviewers need time to ramp up to full speed. The city will use the additional funding to staff up with 13 additional on-call employees for various functions and two time-limited positions — one for a senior city planner to help with the landmark review volume and the other for a communications employee to help explain new requirements to permit applicants.

Of the $1.4 million budget request, $1 million will go to SAFEbuilt, the outside firm that’s been helping CPD. On May 2, the council approved an expansion of SAFEbuilt’s contract, which began in June 2015, from $490,000 to $2 million. Its contract now lasts through May 2018.

The council approved the budget request in a block vote. The money will come from the city’s general contingency fund.

Source: Denver Post