City eyes advancements in development process
The City of Hood River initiated improvements to its development permitting processes early this year, and numerous changes are already in progress or are planned as a result of feedback received from development permit customers.
A customer survey, conducted in March, was delivered to 261 previous customers of the Building, Planning, Engineering or Fire departments involved in permitting services. The survey incurred a 20% response rate and gauged how customers felt about the City development permitting processes. Of the 53 fully completed surveys, 77% of respondents are based in Hood River (the majority long-time residents), 35% are business owners, 33% contractors, and 25% developers.
Nearly all respondents have interacted with the Building dept. (96%), while respondents have also been in contact with Planning (83%), Engineering (64%), and Fire (60%) departments. The majority of feedback indicated customers value existing services yet identified areas for improvements. The City can make the biggest difference if it offers a predictable and timely permit review process.
Tools most frequently used by customers were cited as online codes, downloadable forms and in-person permit counter assistance, while a majority of customers preferred communication via email or website information.
- As a result of feedback, the City has extended office hours for Planning and Engineering departments from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by appointment. These hours are also observed by the Building department.
- A new permit submittal checklist for Residential Building permits has been created, with faster review timelines slated to begin this summer. Complete permit applications streamline the review process and give applicants predictability on turnaround.
- The City is investigating options to move permitting staff to Hood River City Hall to co-locate staff at City Hall, increasing efficiency of services.
- Technology tools will be more widely available to City staff, allowing for electronic plan review and more efficient permitting system.
“It would be helpful to get feedback after changes are implemented to find out if we heard respondents correctly and made accurate changes,” recommended Building Official Danielle Meyers. “We continue to seek constructive, specific feedback.”
The City of Hood River plans to continue taking input and improving its services during this process. For questions or feedback, contact Planning Director Dustin Nilsen.
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