One thought on “Why Does it Take so Long to Get a Building Permit in Honolulu?

  1. According to the article, getting a building permit in the 70s occurred more quickly. One could get a building permit in a day, walking the permit to the different divisions, because an experienced and knowledgeable staffer could point out errors and allow the person to make needed corrections on the spot.

    But over time the process slowed because

    “…knowledgeable oldtimers retired, and the city struggled to replace them. Employees who did come on board were not adequately trained and struggled to keep up with ever-changing regulations. Technology, which promised to speed things up, instead removed the personal interactions that allowed for quick corrections to minor problems.

    Questions that come to mind:

    1. Even if the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) had capable staff, would the staff and DPP be open to quick corrections? Or, has this allowance lead to corruption or an appearance and accusations of corruption that would discourage DPP from operating this way? If so then, simply hiring more capable staff may reduce delays.
    2. Putting aside the time it takes to complete the process, is the way DPP evaluates permit requests appropriate? What criteria should they be using? For example, here are some possible criteria:

    • safety
    • impact on the environment
    • impact to surrounding property
    • fairness and ethics

    I’m not sure if there are other criteria, but once we can identify the criteria, we can analyze the existing rules and regulations regard building are appropriate or not.

    It’s important to note that trade-offs may have to be made. A faster process (i.e., decrease the delay) may lead to more errors which may diminish the effectiveness. Some aspects of effectiveness may be mandatory, or at least be a much higher priority.

    More later.

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