Permit Streamline Myths

  1. Best Practices in Permit Streamlining are universal
      • Successful permit streamline strategies are not ‘one size fits all’ but vary in each jurisdiction.
  2. Bringing in an outside consultant is the best way to get Streamlining goingmyths
    • Cooperative efforts that involve both Design Professionals who prepare plans, and the building jurisdiction that reviews them are the most effective and direct means to launch streamlining.  Consultants can though play a key role in comparing bench marks, processes, and strategies to those found in similar communities; and creating an action plan.  Some consultants focus primarily on technology, which is just one of the strategies that are effective.
  3. Technology is a part of every successful streamline program
    • In many jurisdictions, changes in attitude, roadmap, and process are more important and fertile places for improvement than new technology.
  4. Electronic Plan Check is a must for Permit Streamline success
    • Electronic plan check is expensive to implement: it may require new hardware (large dual monitors, faster computers); software (proprietary) for both the plan reviewer and plan preparer;
    • EPC may be inconsistent with expedited plan review because of the increased time it takes to comprehend a large and complex set of drawings.  Some jurisdictions DO NOT permit electronic plan check when fast tracking permits because plan reviewers report it takes longer since they are looking at a computer screen instead of full size sheets of paper that can be quickly flipped back and forth for references, details, coordination
    • EPC in some jurisdictions requires particular software; all PDF’s are not equal
    • Some jurisdictions require plans to be consolidated into a single PDF file, which can be problematic for large drawing sets
  5. Permit Streamline occurs in the inner working of the building department
    • Some permit streamline strategies occur before plans ever get to the building department.  An example is a ‘pre qualified ‘ approach to organizing a set of documents, which can make the plan check process much faster and more effective
  6. Self Certification has a poor track record
    • Some juridictions such as New York City have decades of positive experience with Self Certification.  While a few problems get a lot of press, literally thousands of success do not.  Good selfcertification programs have built in checks and balances.
  7. PreQualification is not acceptable because it provides favored treatment for a few at the expense of the many
    • Applicants who prepare plans that a clear, complete, and tailored to a quick and effective plan review process should be handled differently than those applicants who have not checked basic code requirements, submit illegible, incomplete, and  poorly prepared plans.  The cost and time required to review plans is dependent on the quality of the plans and the knowledge of the person who has signed them; and in fact it is unreasonable to treat every plan submitter and every set of documents to the same steps and process.
  8. AIA Components don’t have a role to play in permit streamlining.
    • AIA components can be very effective in implementing streamline benefits in local communities:
      1. Vetting measures before money and time are spent implementing them
      2. Identifying road blocks and low hanging fruit easily addressed
      3. Working to implement PreQualification programs that spell out what a good set of documents look like, and provide training to allow qualified applicants to enjoy a plan review process that saves everyone – public and private sector – time and money, with the economic development benefits to flow to the community.
  9. Streamlining means getting permits out more quickly to everyone who wants one
    • Properly implemented streamlining starts with the premise that time matters, without any compromise to public safety or welfare.  Getting to an answer quickly is at the heart of streamlining, whether the answer is ‘Yes we approve that’ – or – ‘No as configured that does not meet code’.
  10. Discretionary entitlements like special permits, zoning variances are not amenable to streamlining.
    • Every regulatory and permitting process can benefit from streamlining.  The easiest processes to streamline however are ‘ministerial’ ones where application of a uniform set of code provisions is at the heart of the matter.
  11. Eliminating plan check is at the heart of streamlining efforts.
    • Many if not most design professionals appreciate a good plan check.  In jurisdictions where self certification is an option, many design professionals choose to have their plans reviewed.  This is particularly true for review for zoning and environmental compliance, where an ordinary reading of an ordinance is not sufficient to understand it’s history, objectives, or application.