January 7, 2011
LOS ANGELES STREAMLINED PERMITTING
By: John Rappa, Chief Analyst
You asked us to analyze Los Angeles' streamlined permitting system and compare it with the changes PA 10-158 makes to Connecticut's permitting practices.
Los Angeles' current streamlined permitting system aims to cut the time for issuing building permits, certificates of occupancy, and other building code permits and approvals. It does so by allowing code officials and developers to identify and resolve code issues as they arise during the design and construction processes instead of waiting until these processes end. Los Angeles may extend the system to other development-related permits. Proposed additions include online permit tracking and assigning city planners to serve as liaisons between developers and permitting agencies.
Connecticut's PA 10-158 also seeks to expedite the permitting process, but does so in a different context and with different means. The act's changes affect only state agencies. These include (1) establishing an ombudsman office to expedite transportation, environmental, and public health permits for economic development projects and (2) many changes to environmental permitting process, including setting deadlines for completing specific tasks.
LOS ANGELES STREAMLINE PERMITTING SYSTEM
Los Angeles' streamlined permitting system aims to cut the time for issuing development-related permits. It currently applies to building permits, but proposed changes would affect other permits, including those issued by the city's planning and environmental affairs departments. The system currently has two components:
● the Parallel Design Permitting Process, which allows the Building and Safety Department to spot and address code issues for major development projects before a developer submits final plans for approval, and
● the Construction-Inspection Partnership Program, which allows code inspectors and contractors to identify and resolve potential code issues as they arise instead of waiting until a completed project is inspected for code compliance.
The city may add more elements. The Mayor's Office of Economic and Business Policy is proposing an online portal that would allow developers to track a project's permit applications through different city departments. Creating the portal, though, requires creating a common method for these departments to identify projects and enter data.
The planning department may also assign a city planner to each project to serve as a liaison between its sponsor and the city departments issuing permits for the project.
This act makes several changes to how Connecticut issues regulatory permits. (Attachment 1 is the OLR analysis of the act.) Although these changes address many of the same goals as Los Angeles' streamlined permitting system, they apply only to state permitting agencies. Some of the changes apply to economic development projects and others apply to all projects requiring environmental permits. The changes also involve methods that differ from those Los Angeles uses.
The act requires the economic and community development commissioner to create a permit ombudsman office to expedite environmental, transportation, and public health permits for economic development projects. It also requires the departments issuing these permits to designate a business ombudsman and liaison to help that office expedite permit applications.
The act's other changes apply to environmental permits and aim to make the permitting process more predictable. The act imposes deadlines for completing specific tasks and requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) commissioner to account for the deadlines DEP missed. It also requires the commissioner to review the timeframes for completing all tasks and report the findings to the governor and legislature by September 30, 2010.
The act also authorizes the DEP commissioner to provide regulatory relief by:
● streamlining the process for conducting public hearings on permit applications,
● establishing a service to help people and organizations comply with environmental laws, and
● extending the expiration dates for general permits.