Hundreds of Dallas Home Projects Stuck in Permitting Backlog
DALLAS – The city of Dallas has failed to increase its tax base by millions due to delays in the approval bureau that are preventing developers from executing plans to build several hundred homes and commercial properties.
What you need to know
- By the end of January, more than 400 single-family home projects were awaiting approval
- City officials say the need to move the approval process entirely online due to COVID-19 has caused the backlog
- Almost a year later, councilor Chad West said the process should be much smoother
The largest part of the project backlog consists of single-family houses, which are currently in the “plan review” phase. More than 400 single-family home projects were awaiting approval by the end of January, and the estimated waiting time for the first stage, Prescreen, and the second stage, Plan Review, was nine weeks in early February.
Presentation of the city employees with the number of projects in phase 2
City officials say the need to move the approval process completely online due to COVID-19 has caused the backlog, but Dallas city council, Chad West, says the process should be much smoother almost a year later.
“When COVID hit, staff immediately started increasing their facilities and it took a long time. I don’t blame staff,” West said. “The industry itself was there.” Some of these old-school contractors were very reluctant to accept the program. And actually, you know, I think of my dad, who is 70 years old and trying to teach him how to use his iPhone, right? There has been a lot of resistance to going online instead of just handing your permit to the approval office. And so there was this growing pain with it, but it was almost a year ago. It’s time to get it right. “
“It used to be a one-day process to go to the approval office to approve your building plans,” said Phil Crone, executive director of the Dallas Builders Association.
“And you couldn’t do that anywhere else. It used to be a huge advantage working with the city of Dallas, which has now become its biggest Achilles heel. What used to take a day used to take 15 weeks or more for most builders “Crone said.” Most of the builders that do business in Dallas are small builders. They depend on cash flow. There are professions that depend on these jobs to work and make a living. And if you do going from a situation where you start the next day to a situation where you may not start for three or four months or more, it has a huge impact on your ability to make a living. “
Workflow of the plan review process
Crone said, based on data from previous years, he estimated the backlog resulted in a tax base deficit of $ 264-382 million.
“We recently did an analysis of the city of Dallas from March to November – those were the latest numbers available – when the pandemic started, with the latest numbers available in 2020, and then compared them to 2019 and 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. And there are roughly 600 homes Dallas is short of compared to what it has been able to deliver in years past. And if Dallas had followed – which I think they would have been able to – the rest of the market, which is up about 16% in terms of number of permits, could be up to 800 homes missing, ”Crone said.
At a time when affordable housing is not easy to find, the loss of hundreds of homes due to the city’s inefficiency is detrimental.
“Even before the pandemic, we saw that prices in the entire region rose about twice as fast as an average household can afford. And we really have to pay attention to these numbers and look at them with caution because we are here as a region in are able to. ” Competitiveness depends on housing that is affordable and accessible, “Crone said.” That’s what drives a lot of these jobs here from places where housing is not affordable and when we don’t care about it in Dallas or elsewhere, We will face a real challenge as a region, and will certainly exacerbate the challenges many low-income and middle-income households have faced as a result of this pandemic. “
On January 27, the Dallas City Council unanimously approved the recruitment of outside assistance from qualified third party plan auditors at a cost of more than $ 5 million from the balance of the Building Inspection Fund (fees paid by applicants). On February 1, city officials promised the Economic Development Committee to clear the backlog of single-family home permits by the end of March and obtain approval for approval for two to three weeks instead of the current nine-week process.
“You know, we heard that engineers weren’t paid enough, and we keep losing engineers because we can’t keep up with private salaries. And we gave employees the option to give engineers recruitment / retention bonuses to admit that try keep them ready. So we gave them financial instruments they asked for and the industry asked to be able to implement them, “West said.” Other cities have found out. Fort Worth has pushed a lot more houses than it did last year. You can check out any of the surrounding towns and see that they took advantage of the housing benefits that we let go of. “
In mid-February, the city council will consider approving a third-party human resources and efficiency study that will identify appropriate staffing levels and additional opportunities for improvement. City officials will also follow general progress in the approval office and will keep the council updated on a regular basis.