To get Dallas’ building permit department running like a well-oiled machine, the City must first resolve its current staffing shortage.
The building permit process in Dallas is managed by the City’s Development Services Department (DSD), which is responsible for reviewing and approving building plans and issuing construction permits, whether residential, commercial, or multifamily.
DSD Director Andrew Espinoza and City Manager T.C. Broadnax are the central figures at the heart of Dallas’ building permit problems. Tasked with bringing the City’s permit process up to modern standards, Espinoza and Broadnax have found it difficult to uncover a solution that could restore permit cycle times back to pre-pandemic levels as well as fix the persistent bottleneck and backlog.
Prior to the pandemic, DSD averaged about three days to issue a permit, according to past reporting by The Dallas Express. As of December 2022, that number had jumped to roughly 43 days, a more than 1,300% increase in fewer than four years.
As Espinoza made clear during a November 2 Dallas City Council meeting, part of the reason for DSD’s slow performance is its lack of available staff to handle the massive intake of permit applications, which he says means “issues could persist for years.”
To address the persistent staffing shortage, DSD announced via email that it was seeking to hire 15 new employees for the department. “We’re hiring! Development Services is looking for outstanding people to join our team,” the email read.
According to its January 24 hiring announcement, Development Services is planning to hire a permit clerk, various engineers and inspectors, and several senior-level positions. The move to recruit 15 new staff members follows an attempt by DSD in October to fill 19 open positions.
Open positions with DSD include:
- Permit Clerk
- Engineering Assistant II
- Engineer II
- Executive Secretary
- Inspector III Building Inspection
- Inspector III Plumbing
- Senior Engineer
- Senior GIS Support Technician
- Senior Plans Examiner – Building
- Senior Plans Examiner – Electrical
- Senior Public Information Officer
- Supervisor – Business
- Supervisor – Departmental Finance
Espinoza believes that improving the community’s opinion of DSD would help the department attract skilled and committed workers, which in turn would help with its staffing shortage.
“We want to change the perception the community has about Development Services. That starts with changing the culture,” Espinoza told The Dallas Express.
As of December, it took anywhere from “four to six weeks to interview, recruit, and onboard new team members, so it can be difficult to find the right talent,” he explained.
DSD is expected to release its latest permit report for December before February 1, 2023. The report will be released online and in DSD’s monthly newsletter, which can be found here.
After a rocky start in 2022, Espinoza and his team have a lot to prove in 2023.
This year will be Espinoza’s first full year managing DSD, given his middle-of-the-year start in 2022. Ultimately, it is up to City Manager Broadnax to deliver the results Dallas’ development community has been demanding for years.
Why is this overpaid loser, Brodnax, still here?