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Thousands of building permit applications are backlogged on Hawaiʻi Island

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Rich Pedroncelli/AP
In this photo, Feb. 8, 2019 file photo, work is done on an apartment building under construction in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

HILO, Hawaiʻi — Hawaiʻi County is trying to work through a backlog of thousands of building permit applications amid problems with new processing software and staff shortages.

Thousands of applications were delayed when they got stuck in the county's new $15-million processing system, which went live in July, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Mayor Mitch Roth allowed certain applications to be expedited to help whittle down the backlog.

Applications can be expedited if they meet certain criteria, including residential building permits submitted before Oct. 1 that contain the proper certification of a licensed professional, and whose construction will be carried out by a licensed contractor, the Hilo newspaper reported.

About 100 of the backlogged applications qualify for expedited service, said Public Works Director Ikaika Rodenhurst.

He expects the county to be able to clear the backlog by February if certain improvements are made, including hiring more staff.

Technical problems such as data migration issues were the main cause of the delays, which was compounded by a reduction in staff, Rodenhurst said.

Despite the staff shortage, Rodenhurst said reviewers are becoming more familiar with the system. Within the last three months, he said, 279 permits have been issued, 208 of which were within the last week.

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