The city of Dallas faces a major building permit backlog, as reported previously by The Dallas Express. In the course of its dedicated reporting on this issue, The Dallas Express sent the City of Dallas a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on building permits and their original filing dates for a one-year span, but the request was denied because “no responsive documents” could be found.
On August 19, The Dallas Express submitted a FOIA request for “all approved building permits and their original filing dates between the dates of 8/1/21 and 8/1/22” for multiple categories of building permits.
These categories included: zoning and rezoning permits, site development permits, civil cleaning, and grading permits, civil utilities and construction permits, foundation/structure permits, MEP underground permits, wetlands 404 permits, and general building permits.
On August 23, 2022, The Dallas Express received a response to its FOIA request stating, “the City has reviewed its files and has determined there are no responsive documents to your request.”
The document also noted that “building inspection records are maintained by physical addresses; therefore, please specify which addresses you are seeking information on.”
Upon sending additional follow-up open records requests, the city denied those requests, then citing the Texas Homeland Security Act (HSA). The Dallas Express then received a letter from Attorney General’s Office addressing why the information was denied.
The letter stated that the records we requested were confidential based on “requested information which includes specific (computer) code language that could enable public access to a secure database used by the city. Due to the sensitive nature of the information stored on the database, the information is housed on an internal server and protected by a firewall.”
“The data accessible with the requested information pertains to specific departments with highly security-sensitive information such as the City Manager’s Office, Information Technology Services Department, the Dallas Police Department, and the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department,” the letter said.
It is unclear at the time of publication what specific information fit this description nor why receiving elements of the request would require access to a secure database.
The Dallas Express continues to pursue critical data on building permits kept by the city.