King County plans to cut waits for building permits

September 27, 2010

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 27, 2010

The long waits for King County environmental and building permits should shrink next month, as the county permitting agency adopts a more user-friendly policy.

Beginning Oct. 18, the county Department of Development and Environmental Services will provide same-day or “over the counter” reviews for many permit types.

The “over-the-counter” permits include small residential remodels, tenant improvements to commercial spaces, building additions, decks, seismic retrofits and others. Complex development proposals still require appointments.

Other customers will still have the option to make appointments.

“It doesn’t make sense for someone who needs a quick oil change to have to wait in line behind someone who needs their engine rebuilt,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a news release. “This change brings that same logical approach to our permitting services, and will save our customers time, money and aggravation.”

The permitting agency offered walk-in permit services in the past, but in the late 1990s the department shifted to the appointment system due to building boom.

Department Director John Starbard said the existing lower volume of permit applications and a smaller customer base due to annexations and incorporations allowed the return to a walk-in system for many permit types.

“It has been awkward to talk to people about our ‘over-the-counter’ permits when they have to wait weeks and weeks for an appointment just to get to the counter,” he said in the release. “This is part of the reforms we’re making at DDES to make our services easier, more accessible and more predictably-priced.”

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