Permits and Excessive Regulation
Before ever thinking of running for public office I mobilized farmers frustrated with the permitting process for building barns. Despite opposition from county regulators, we convinced the County Council to pass a bill exempting agricultural buildings from the construction permit process used for commercial and residential buildings. The result was less work for government and much-needed needed improvements on county farms.
Our county has a lot of regulations that were created by well-intentioned legislators over the years, that have no measurable public benefit. We need to reduce those regulations, streamline the permitting processes, and be sure that every small business and every resident is treated with dignity and respect as they navigate the processes.
This is the one area of government where progress has been most difficult. Covid, labor shortages, and the disruption of transitioning to electronic systems created a slowdown that was unacceptable.
Last summer I made a change in leadership at Inspections and Permits, directed staff to improve customer service, sent in a troubleshooter, brought back retirees, and reduced a backlog. We used third-party inspectors and virtual inspections, and have recently made changes in the hiring process to fill vacant positions.
We shifted to a new electronic Land Use Navigator that allows applicants to monitor the progress of their applications and hold the county accountable for delays.
The Land Use Navigator will be launched at Office of Planning and Zoning before the end of this year.
We have a bill out for review by stakeholders that streamlines review for redevelopment, removing steps in the process that have no value.
I conducted a series of six meetings in the spring of this year with groups of small businesses to hear how we can make it easier to do business in the county. We will soon be implementing customer surveys during the permit process.
In my second term we will implement a thorough code review to reduce burdensome regulations, and implement suggestions made by our small businesses and residents in customer surveys.