Mayor Johnson Slams Permitting Office Building Debacle

Mayor Eric Johnson
Mayor Eric Johnson | Image by Office of Dallas Mayor Eric L. Johnson/Facebook

In an interview with CBS News Texas’ Eye on Politics segment, Mayor Eric Johnson criticized former City Manager T.C. Broadnax, seemingly blaming him for the City’s recent permit office building debacle.

Johnson was asked about the Ad Hoc Committee on General Investigating and Ethics inquiry, which led to the sudden removal of nearly 70 employees from the City’s new Development Services Department office at 7800 N. Stemmons Fwy. The mayor called the situation “a mess.”

“That’s not something I’m happy about at all,” he said. “… I think the residents of Dallas clearly deserve better than that. This is not news coming from me saying that we’ve had issues [with] permitting in the City. … The city manager is directly in charge of those things and has been asked by me repeatedly to address those things. … We can’t be making the newspaper for asinine stuff like this. We have to do a better job on permitting.”

On April 9, employees from the Development Services Department (DSD) were “directed” to move back to their old space at the Oak Cliff Municipal Center on East Jefferson Boulevard because of reported code violations. Council Member Cara Mendelsohn (District 12) called this scenario ironic because the officials responsible for issuing permits could not satisfy the requirements for one of their own buildings.

The building at 7800 N. Stemmons had 140 code violations.

DSD Director Andrew Espinoza told Dallas City Council members in April that the City’s Bond Office has been “working hard to assess the ongoing needs of that particular property.”

“It is a used building, I believe, built in the 80s, so there are some maintenance issues that need to be addressed,” he said. “I assure you that Development Services is partnering with the Bond Office to get those issues addressed.”

Broadnax, who recently quit his job in Dallas to take up the same post in Austin, has been heavily criticized for his handling of DSD’s permit backlogs, turnaround times, and inefficiencies, prompting complaints from developers and other stakeholders. He also oversaw several years of increases in crime, tax collection, and City spending.

Still, last week, Espinoza told council members on the Economic Development Committee that the City’s permitting process was improving.

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