Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Problems With Permitting

One of the most common calls received relates to problems with obtaining a permit from the city. Over the last several months, Lauderhill has received more requests for permits, due to Wilma, then any other time in its history. With the normal complement of staff, the need to relocate, and the unusual number of filings, there was a backup in the issuance of permits. During this time, staff did its best to expedite application, especially on critical safety issues. This was common in every city locally.

The good news is that staff has caught up on the backlog several weeks ago, and is now operating at a normal schedule again. However, there has been another reason for the problem, and it is not the fault of the city.

Because of the perception of City Hall's being difficult, or slow, to work with, it has always been easy for a contractor to say that any delay, no matter why, is the fault of City Hall. Prior to Wilma, over 85% of all inquiries to me as to "Why City Hall is delaying my Permit?", has been found not to be City Hall's fault. Usually it is the excuse of the contractor who can't perform timely or properly for a property owner. Property owners accept this excuse readily.

Even now I still hear this story, and when investigated, found that City Hall has issued the permit, or the Contractor has a problem with the request for the permit that they have not addressed, let alone told the property owner. The answer on why a Contractor may do this is simple, lack of a necessary ingredient to be able to do the job, and a simple explanation to a property owner that give them more time is always accepted. Missing ingredients tend to be lack of materials or personnel. However, sometimes it is because the Contractor just fails to submit the paper work as required.

Therefore, I am asked "How can a Property Owner know what is going on?" For this I have responded, "If your Contractor tells you the delay in permitting (or an inspection) is due to City Hall, call (or go to) City Hall and ask the question directly." If you find out that it is not City Hall that caused the problem, confront your Contractor with this information. If City Hall has delayed it unreasonably, then that is when you need to contact your elected officials to seek help or at least an explanation. Of course, if you are having a problem in contacting City Hall, or would prefer to talk with your elected officials first, please feel free to do so.

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