City makes strides in Permitting Enhancement Project
The City of Hood River’s development team continues to make progress on its Permitting Enhancement Project (PEP), started in 2019, to streamline and track internal processes through development permit reviews.
Adjustments to the project approach were necessary during the stay-home order, but the team surpassed substantial benchmarks this spring and continues to tackle next steps in a roadmap of identified projects. The City is engaged with representatives from the local development community to audit changes to the permitting process and provide feedback.
Improvements have been made on the City’s updated website for Building, Planning and Engineering departments to help customers access regulations, answer commonly asked questions, and submit applications. New features include instructions for customers on how to access staff and City resources during the pandemic as well as:
- Access “Packets” of application forms for commonly requested project types
- Access to Online fillable forms (to submit online or by email)
- Improved readability and online checklists
Common building project applications and information available online include:
- Residential or Commercial construction
- Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
- Short-Term Rentals (STRs)
- Sign Permits
Other advancements in remote and electronic permitting include:
- Structural or Mechanical permit applications and supporting documents may now be submitted by email.
- Licensed contractors may apply for permits or schedule inspections electronically.
- The Sign Permit process is now streamlined to one application at Public Works.
- Visit cityofhoodriver.gov/building/ for more info.
“We’d like to thank applicants for their patience as we work through these many changes while also working remotely,” expressed Building Official Danielle Meyers.
Internally, City departments have implemented electronic routing of many common building permit requests. This is the first step of the City’s move to an e-Permitting system that will allow for the review and approval of a greater number and type of permits electronically.
Each permit type is now assigned to a “home” department to ease customer communications. A next step will be creating Permit Tracking Reports. The team created a standard document format with similar language for use by the Building, Planning and Engineering departments intended to clarify instructions, project status, points of contact and address common customer questions.
“At the heart of what we do is our commitment to the entire community, and that involves client-focused customer service, building trust and supporting community livability. In managing our duties, we cannot always say ‘yes,’ but what we can do is focus on providing timely, accurate responses and, being solution-oriented,” explained Dustin Nilsen, planning director.
Development process improvements are part of a larger effort towards a current City Council Work Plan goal of creating opportunities for an inclusive and diverse housing inventory. Updated application forms and manuals, updated ADU regulations, updated Engineering Standards, preparing for expedited land divisions are other City projects that fit into this larger goal.
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