A building permit crisis in Dallas reached a new level on Monday when Mayor Eric Johnson stepped in to the issue that City Manager TC Broadnax failed to address.
Johnson said permit delays drive up costs and scare away business.
He announced a new task force to investigate and resolve delays that have been the subject of complaints from builders and contractors for years.
Johnson informed Broadnax and the rest of the city council of the new approach in a letter Monday.
“We’re tired of excuses and we’re tired of hearing that we have to give this a little more time. The time is up,” Johnson said.
The mayor appointed Dallas City Council member Paula Blackmon to lead the task force.
“We have now seen how this is preventing 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 homebuilders said they have moved work to the suburbs where permits are issued much faster.
“You can’t have affordable housing by making construction more expensive, and when you delay permits, you make construction more expensive and housing less affordable,” said Phil Crone, executive director of the Dallas Builders’ Association.
The Dallas problem has received task force attention in the past, but still persists.
“We need everyone on deck to solve the problem. On the other hand, it feels like the 245and iteration of a working group to solve the problem. But hopefully this time it’s the last task force that will end up doing the job,” Crone said.
Blackmon said this new approach will be about taking action.
“We hope this will provide an extra layer to get things done and show the urgency that we want,” Blackmon said.
In October, members of the Dallas City Council received the findings of a review by Toyota Consulting of the building department’s call center. The consultants found that most callers waited at least 15 minutes at a stretch before even answering calls. A flowchart detailed call center inefficiencies.
On January 31, an executive brought in last year to address the issues told another city council meeting that progress had been made. But the builders lined up at a public hearing that day to again complain about ongoing delays.
Homebuilders Association chief Crone again confirmed on Monday that the problems have not gone away.
“It’s cost too much for too long for our members and those trying to house the city,” Crone said.
Mayor Johnson said Dallas needs to invite new residents and builders who want to serve them. He said resources had been provided but progress had been too slow.
“We can’t continue on this path where not only are we not making progress, but we’re falling behind,” Johnson said.
Resolving the permit issue was a top Dallas City Council priority for City Manager TC Broadnax.
The superintendent and other city council appointees receive a performance review from city council on Wednesday.