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Panel advances bill setting processing deadline for permits

November 9, 2018

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu officials have advanced a measure mandating that building permits for one- and two-family dwellings are processed within 60 days.

The council’s Zoning and Housing Committee approved the bill Wednesday, sending it forward for a final reading by the council, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

The council is likely to consider the measure at its meeting next week.

The Department of Planning and Permitting had sought to postpone the bill. The 60-day processing deadline proposed for the department would lead to delays in processing permits for larger projects, said Kathy Sokugawa, the department’s acting director.

“It will mean that other permits, including those that have higher value . than single-family dwellings, such as commercial tower buildings or some of the other (mixed use) projects like Sky Ala Moana may be deferred further in their processing time because we only have so many resources to go around,” Sokugawa said. “So we just want to make sure that we understand what the opportunity cost of this bill is.”

The Sky Ala Moana is a hotel and residential project that’s planning to build two towers with 300 hotel rooms, 388 market-rate residential units and 90 affordable housing units. The housing committee approved the project at the meeting Wednesday.

The department has limited resources, and the competitive job market has made it difficult for the agency to hire and retain employees, Sokugawa said. Her staff is working on options to mitigate the problem, but it will take time, she said.

“There’s a huge chasm between what we’re paying them and the responsibility we’re giving them,” Sokugawa said.

Construction industry leaders have backed the measure, saying they have lost contract jobs because of the lengthy processing times for permits.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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