DPD’s plan review and coaching staff is facing another record-breaking year, which means longer lines than usual in DPD’s Applicant Services Center (ASC). To streamline our process and accommodate the influx, DPD is adding staff, focusing on plan review, altering our appointment reservation system, and adding information to our website.
Last year, DPD had issued 2,087 permits for projects worth over $392 million by the end of March. As of March 31, 2007, DPD had issued 2,107 permits for projects worth over $777 million. Even though numbers of permits are up only slightly this year, they have been larger, more complex and expensive projects; and the total worth of the projects is almost double that of the same time period last year. This increase in development translates into longer waits—often two hours or more to speak to a permit specialist or land use planner in the ASC.
The department was granted budget authority last year, based on 2006 record-breaking numbers, for 25 new positions in the department. Those new staff members were added to various groups within DPD, including inspections, plan review and administrative groups. However, because of the influx of projects this year, DPD staff is focusing on plan review, which reduces staff available for coaching in the ASC. Additionally, DPD is temporarily suspending phone access to permit specialists (normally 1-4:15 p.m. daily), to allow these staff members to concentrate on plan review. To adjust for the reduced coaching and phone service, DPD is reviewing and updating its online services (see some online services at right).
Further, an update to DPD’s reservation system will help repeat users schedule appointments via fax, ensure access to appointments and create better efficiency in scheduling. Users who need to schedule multiple appointments at one time can now retrieve the form from DPD’s website and fax it in per instructions. Also, upcoming additions to DPD’s online homepage will help those interested in permits find more complete information online more quickly.
Thanks to all our applicants and customers for their patience as we respond to record-breaking development in Seattle.