Reforming DPP: Planning, Permitting and Delays

Dec 7, 2018

Credit Catherine Cruz

These are busy days for O‘ahu’s Department of Planning and Permitting. There are issues with so-called monster homes and the housing shortage. And there’s new attention on the slow turn-around on building permits.

Malama Mondays:  one of the first reforms at the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting. For the next couple of months, the department will NOT take new applications on Mondays — instead focusing on catching up on its backlog of pending permit applications.

Such reforms are critical, say the department’s customers, ranging from homeowners to major construction companies. Waits have stretched to as long as a year for permits to start construction and it’s been taking a toll. Construction companies have had to lay off workers as residential and commercial projects worth millions have been delayed.

Kathy Sokugawa
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

Another remedy, this one from the city council, is Bill 64, which passed into law last week. That requires the department to issue permits for one- and two-family homes within 60 days. And as PBN went to press this week, the council also adopted resolution 18-272, urging the administration to transfer funds so DPP can make emergency hires, contract out some work, pay overtime and more.

DPP acting director Kathy Sokugawa blames the slowdown on a number of factors—from staff turnover to antiquated computer equipment. The department has also been tasked with increasing its scrutiny of so-called monster homes. The department and the mayor also put some blame on applicants, for turning in incomplete paperwork.