After several years of difficulties trying to overcome burdensome backlogs and bottlenecks, local building officials seem to be getting a slightly better grasp on Dallas’ residential building permit process.
The City of Dallas released new single-family permit data for August, which showed an uptick in submission and issuance rates and a drop in median days to issue, according to the City’s Residential Permit Activity Dashboard (RPAD).
Dallas’ Development Services Department (DSD) received 145 single-family permit applications in August and issued 193 permits, marking a slight decrease in activity from the month before but an increase relative to previous months in 2023, RPAD data shows.
Overall, DSD saw its fastest permit approvals of the year in August, requiring only seven median days to approve a single-family permit. For comparison, the median turnaround time in January was 78 days, and the median time in June and July was 15 days. DSD essentially saw a 91% drop from January and a 53% drop from June and July.
Although DSD’s approval time fell in 2023, the department still has room for improvement.
So far, DSD’s median issuance time year to date is 21 days, a stark difference compared to the 68 median days reported in 2022 and the 63 median days reported in 2021. Still, with the department showing it can lower approval times to a single week, DSD should aim to approve all single-family permits in under a week.
As of August 2023, DSD had 239 single-family permit applications in its queue, with 176 awaiting action by the applicant and 63 in the hands of staff. The permit applications are in various stages of review: 54 are with the applicant in pre-screen review, 24 are in post-review, and 158 are in department review — 99 with applicants and 59 with staff.
DSD completed 88% of its initial reviews in under 15 days in August, the fourth-highest share of the year, behind July at 92%, June at 90%, and March at 89%, according to RPAD data.
With DSD showing it can accelerate permit approval times on the residential side, Council Member Chad West (District 1) told the department in early September that it needs to focus on the commercial side of permitting.
“When I ask a person who is coming through development in the City of Dallas, I would like them to tell me, ‘You know what I love about your department? They start from yes and work backward,’” West said.
While West said he appreciates the shift in DSD’s performance over the last year, he acknowledged that much more work is still needed to make Dallas an attractive and inviting place for development.