Dallas Mayor's Action on Chronic Building Permit Delays

Builders’ association leader seeks action and not another task force

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A Dallas building permit crisis reached a new level Monday when Mayor Eric Johnson stepped into the problem that City Manager T.C. Broadnax has not fixed.

Johnson said permit delays drive up cost and drive business away.

He announced a new working group to investigate and solve delays that have been a topic of complaints from builders and contractors for years.

Johnson informed Broadnax and the rest of the City Council about the new approach in a letter Monday.

“We're tired of excuses and we're tired of hearing we need to give this just a little more time. Time's up,” Johnson said.

The Mayor appointed Dallas City Council Member Paula Blackmon to lead the working group.

“We've now seen how it keeps Dallas from growing and prospering at a time when we need housing and commercial development, especially in the southern part of our city,” Blackmon said.

Some home builders have said they have shifted work to suburbs where permits are issued much faster.

“You cannot have affordable housing by making building more expensive and when you delay permits, you make building more expensive and housing less affordable,” Dallas Builders’ Association Executive Director Phil Crone said.

The Dallas problem has received task force attention in the past but still persists.

“We need all hands on deck to solve the problem. On the other hand, it feels like the 245th iteration of a task force to solve the problem. But, I hope this time it’s the last task force that finally gets the job done,” Crone said.

Blackmon said this new approach will be aimed at achieving action.

“We hope this will actually bring an added layer to move this forward and show the urgency that we want,” Blackmon said.

In October, Dallas City Council Members received findings from a Toyota Consulting review of the building department phone center. The consultants found most callers waited at least 15 minutes in a cue before calls were even answered. A flow chart detailed inefficiencies in the call center.

On January 31, an executive brought in last year to solve the problems told another city council meeting that progress had been made. But builders lined up at a public hearing that day to complain again about ongoing delays.

Homebuilders association leader Crone again Monday confirmed that problems have not disappeared.

“It's been way too costly for too long for our members and those trying to house the city,” Crone said.

Mayor Johnson said Dallas must be inviting for new residents and builders who want to serve them. He said resources have been provided but progress has been too slow.

“We can't continue down this path where we're not only not making progress, but falling behind,” Johnson said.

Fixing the permit problem was a top Dallas City Council priority for City Manager T.C. Broadnax.

The manager and other City Council appointees receive a City Council performance review Wednesday.

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