DPP Is In Hot Seat For Permits Backlog and Long Wait Time, More Staffing and Possible Software Update in the Work

Outdated software and low staffing are said to be two reasons why Honolulu’s City Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) are experiencing backlog in permits that have some businesses and homeowners waiting three times longer on average, than other states for residential and commercial building projects to get a green light.

Honolulu City Council Andria Tupola requested an investigation and service report (RISR) from the Department of Planning and Permitting to solidly determine application volumes and quantify any permit backlog.

Tupola said, “Too many housing projects are stuck in the permitting process.” She added, “There may be some potential long-term solutions such as hiring more workers or upgrading software, but we need more immediate remedies.”

DPP’ said there are 3,499 applications in the initial processing or pre-screen phase, 4,780 permits in Plans Review with DPP plan examiners, and 1,113 permits approved and waiting to be picked up by the applicants.

Builders say, the process needs to be streamlined to make it easier for small construction companies versus big construction projects.

DPP says it is suffering from a 30% vacancy rate. The 2023 City Budget includes filling 80 vacancies plus hiring 80 new people, so the city hopes to fill 160 positions at DPP within the next three years.

Councilmember Tupola said she will put forth a few initiatives to accelerate and streamline the permitting process and wait times, including encouraging the administration to expedite the release of federal funds for new software.

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