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Mayor Caldwell Unveils Plan to Issue Residential Permits in 60 Days

Wayne Yoshioka

The Honolulu City Council passed Bill 64 two weeks ago to speed up the permitting process for residential homes. Today, the Mayor announced his own plan.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
Mayor Caldwell outlined his plan to process residential permits in 60 days

Mayor Kirk Caldwell did not veto Bill 64 but is sending it back to the Honolulu City Council to allow it to become law without his signature. 

“The bill was passed by the Council recently that mandates that the Department of Planning and Permitting issue permits for single and two-family homes within 60 days.  But, if for some reason, you’re in violation when you get these permits issued to you, you cannot apply for any more permits for a 12-month period.  It’s basically two strikes and you’re out.”



The Mayor says his plan will allow online permitting and reviews 24/7.  It will also accept third party reviews to speed up the process and take a hard line on incomplete plans.  In his words, “No more Aloha.”

“We take almost all permits, even if they’re incomplete and the we work with those who submit the permits to get their permits up to the standard they should be.  A lot of hand-holding; a lot re-correcting; a lot of follow-up.  What we’re gonna do is, you come in with your permit and it’s not complete, it’s rejected, outright.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
DPP Division Chief Wallace Carvalho

DPP will review a plan a maximum of 3 times before it, too, will be rejected.  Currently, DPP processes 10-15 thousand building permits annually, with each permit taking about 4-6 months to complete.  DPP Division Chief, Wallace Carvalho, says staffing has been increased to meet the new timeline.


“We’re gonna get those permits out in 60 days because that’s the law now.  We’ve hired two residential plan reviewers within the last 3 weeks.  December 1st we’ll be hiring two more residential reviewers which will give us a total of 8 for right now.  ‘Cause right now, we’re issuing anywhere on residential permits, 8-to-9 hundred with 4 reviewers.”


Carvalho will also implement Malama Mondays at Honolulu and Kapolei offices to allow a full day of processing back-logged permit applications.  The offices will also process accessory dwelling unit permits in 60 days and fire sprinkler retrofits in 120 days.

But, Mayor Caldwell says high-rise and commercial permits might take longer to process.  But, he says, with online e-permits the 60-day mandate should be within reach.


“We didn’t want a law to be passed. We wanted to do these things we talked about.  Because you can always tweak them and change them.  And, this is not the end.  This is the beginning.  We’ll look at additional things, we don’t want to announce them yet because we’re gonna make sure that they actually can be done.  We want to try to make this permitting process a lot easier for everyone and get more work out onto the street.”


For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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