Improved Permitting Process is Goal of Tacoma Task Force

Getting the City of Tacoma back to model jurisdiction status with regard to permitting is the overriding goal of a task force comprised of the City AGC Master Builders and other stakeholders.

The City of Tacoma used to be a model jurisdiction - responsive fair and pretty quick says Jeff Stroud Vice President of Mountain Construction Inc. and a task force member. For a larger jurisdiction it worked well but the last couple of years theres been a strain.

Charlie Solverson the Citys Public Works Building and Land Use Division Manager acknowledges that the recent high-volume years coupled with layering of regulations has been a challenge for the City. Were looking for ways to improve to get back to our previous level of service and keep it there he says. Weve had a couple of very busy years. Now that theres a dip and were at about 80 percent of volume of last year its a good opportunity to look at how we are managing our processes.

According to Tim Attebery AGC Southern District Manager the task force has met three times and among the issues being discussed are:

  • Process streamlining through the consolidation and coordination of several different permitting areas.
  • Setting and enforcing deadlines for review by professional staff. 
  • Establishment of a single point of contact for site development issues. 
  • Instituting pre-application review that involves all interested parties. 
  • Development and dissemination of clear standards for permitting by providing aids such as flow charts checklists and client assistance memos. 
  • Easy and quick access to the status of permit applications. 
  • Implementation of new technological aids such as electronic plan review as soon as possible.

Our mutual goal is to improve and streamline the permit process in Tacoma says Stroud. But this is not intended to be a one-sided effort. What can be done by stakeholders to help? Can we improve our submittals? Well be looking at those things as well. Wed like a single point of contact at the city and perhaps there should be one on our end as well - someone to respond to the city get the decision makers together and let the city know whats going on at our end.

Other AGC members serving on the task force are Carl Zarelli of Merit Construction and Ed Brooks of Sunset Pacific General Contractors.

The important thing is that the discussion should be ongoing says Stroud. We dont want to just meet a few times improve a few things and then go away. Lets make sure its continuous improvement that keeps up with changes in regulations.