Employee Spotlight – Alice Nielsen
The City of Hood River’s building department continues its efforts to streamline the permitting and building process, now with the leadership of new Development Administrator Alice Nielsen.
Nielsen runs the City’s building permit program and works with Hood River County to enforce the building code for the City of Hood River. She helps control processes, enforce code, answer questions and talk through issues. The City continues to rely on the County development team to provide plan review and inspect projects.
Nielsen also identifies deficiencies in the City’s existing permitting process and works with customers and permitting staff to resolve pinch points. A future goal is to streamline the process for customers by improved coordination of processes for Planning, Building, Public Works and Engineering departments.
As the City’s new development administrator, Nielsen is aware of a common perception of the high cost to develop in Hood River, but she views each project as much more than a permit. Typically, projects involve public works, planning and zoning, utilities and more. “People often equate high permit fees with System Development Charges (SDCs), but the City hasn’t raised building permit fees since 2009,” Nielsen says. “If we want to maintain and improve our infrastructure, keep people safe, and welcome people with disabilities by putting in ADA features, development should help pay for these things.”
Nielsen, who joined the City of Hood River three months ago, worked in Community Development in Portland for 24 years. Most recently she worked as a Major Projects Permitting Supervisor for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services where she coordinated and directed permit review processes for 18 different review groups for Portland’s largest and most complex construction projects. She also worked on process improvements, identifying and resolving issues by working collaboratively with customers and city review staff to find the effective, timely solutions.
She holds an Oregon Inspector Certification and a Building Official Certification and acts as Building Official for the City of Hood River. She will work in tandem with Hood River County’s building department to process permits and enforce the building code in the City of Hood River. “I look forward to getting to know our development community and working towards a building permit process that is transparent and easy to navigate,” Nielsen said.
Though Nielsen has lived in Portland for the past 25 years, she grew up in Trout Lake, WA, and her siblings and parents still live in the Gorge. She knew one day she’d like to return. “I’m an avid trail runner who spends most of my free time running mountains in the Gorge or traveling to far off destinations to discover new trails,” she adds. Most recently, she ran the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim, which she notes was her most challenging but rewarding trail adventure to date. She also enjoys cooking, playing cribbage or hanging with her two cats, Duncan and Rosie.
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