Audit of the Department of Planning and Permitting's Processes for Reviewing Building Permit Applications, Resolution 18-284, CD1, FD1
From Honolulu Auditor, January 6, 2020 (excerpt)
…Over the last five years, total applications for residential and commercial building related permits decreased 37 percent from approximately 23,391 permits issued in FY 2014 to 14,763 permits issued in FY 2018. Residential two-family permits increased 57 percent over the last five years from 341 permits in FY 2014 to 537 permits in FY 2018. New building residential two-family permits also saw a significant increase of 61 percent over the last five years from 41 new two-family building permits issued in FY 2014 to 66 new two-family building permits issued in FY 2018. Comparatively, single-family related permits decreased 44 percent over the last five years.
We found that the Department of Planning and Permitting does not effectively manage the permitting process for timeliness. More specifically:
• The department does not properly administer the Department of Planning and Permitting rules relating to the timely issuance of building permits as outlined in Administrative Code Section 20-2-4 and 20-2-5, Ordinance 18-41 and Section 18-6.4, Revised Ordinances of Honolulu. As a result, permit applications are subject to extended review times and excessive review cycles, which contribute to processing backlogs and excessive delays;
• The department is unable to meet the initial plan review benchmarks outlined in their administrative rules for both residential and commercial permits. The agency did not consistently implement internal controls outlined in administrative rules, Sect. 20-2-4 and 20-2-5, requiring plans that have more than one review cycle be limited to revisions and any plans not approved after the second review cycle either self-certify or request a permit by appointment;
• The departments One-Time Review 60 Day (OTR-60) Program for processing One and Two- Family Dwellings did not result in expedited permit issuance as intended. The department's practice to accept incomplete OTR-60 applications and allow applications to be processed that did not meet initial program requirements contributed to the programs ineffectiveness;
• The department's lax controls allowed private companies to monopolize permit review appointments and restricted access to the general public. The department should exercise better control and monitor the appointment system to ensure that proper internal controls are in place to prevent restricted public access and prevent abuse of city services by private for-profit companies; and
• The department lacks a quality assurance system to monitor application processes, identify bottlenecks or challenges, and collect important data so that it can take corrective action to meet the mission to provide the public with efficient, timely service.
read … Full Report
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