The City’s building permit department has launched two initiatives that it hopes will help reduce the ongoing backlog in commercial building permits overseen by City Manager T.C. Broadnax.
Dallas’ Development Services Department (DSD) has introduced a new set of performance standards. Alongside this, a review team has been designated to manage the now-familiar delays in the commercial plan review process, according to two separate news bulletins issued by DSD in January.
The two commercial initiatives were established at the start of 2023 in hopes that DSD staff will be able to better manage customer expectations based on the size, complexity, and use of their submitted projects.
“The Department’s established performance goals are intended to communicate the expediency of review timelines, not permitting issuance timelines,” DSD said in news bulletin 301.
DSD does not directly offer statistics on the average time a commercial permit application takes to review or turn around. However, under DSD’s new 2023 performance goal, the department is supposed to complete the initial review process in no more than 15 days.
DSD’s 15-day initial review limit applies to “complete site demolitions” and to “all complex projects over 10,000 square feet.” Other commercial projects have performance review standards ranging from one day to 10 days, according to a breakdown of commercial projects by type found in DSD’s news bulletin 301.
DSD has allotted its staff a maximum of seven business days to complete a resubmission or revision, 2023 performance standards show.
These self-imposed performance goals may be difficult to reach, given the long delays that have characterized Dallas’ permit process under Broadnax’s leadership.
To work around some of the initial problems that lead to delays, DSD suggests “scheduling a preliminary development meeting with staff to discuss any concerns, challenges, or general questions about the process.”
If commercial applicants want their initial review sped up, the DSD now offers an appointment-based, fee-based service to achieve this.
In January, the department launched its Minor Commercial Q-Team, a plan review team dedicated to commercial projects under 10,000 square feet, according to DSD’s news bulletin 302. The Minor Q-Team will function like a same-day permit expeditor, much like DSD’s single-family Q-Team does.
However, as reported previously by The Dallas Express, these pay-for-play initiatives merely allow those who can afford it to skip the line.
DSD introduced its very first plan review Q-Team last September in order to help clear the City’s growing backlog of single-family building permits. While some progress has been made on this front, DSD still has a long way to go before the development community is completely satisfied.
Considering commercial office space demand in Dallas is expected to grow over the years, speeding up the initial review process for commercial developments may help local builders and construction experts get their projects off the ground much more quickly.
If DSD Director Andrew Espinoza and City Manager Broadnax want Dallas to remain competitive in the future, then many of the issues that plague the City’s permit department will need to be smoothed out, including not just the backlog and delays but the continuing lack of transparency.
The Dallas Express reached out to DSD for comment on the new commercial initiatives but had not heard back at the time of publishing.
One thing jumped off the pages for me — the assumption that there will be a demand for MORE commercial office space in Dallas.
Based on the growing trends of work from home, online buying, consumers buying LESS, a shrinking middle class with LESS DISPOSABLE INCOME, and much SMALLER BRICK AND MORTAR sales spaces, it seems that Development Services and the Q-Team have started out heading in the wrong direction.
It seems to be a flawed premise that demand for commercial office space will grow — especially in Dallas city limits.
The real solution is hiring MORE, highly qualified, FULL TIME, plan reviewers and on-site inspectors working in-house (and preferably, who actually in Dallas).
Make an appointment for a meeting?! Good luck getting anyone to answer the phone! That takes longer than the review process!
Most decent people would be ashamed to tell such a blatant lie!