[5/11/21] County Permit Backlog Continues

Posted in Business & Economy, Local Government & Meetings

Chelan County’s permit backlog goes on.  

As of last Monday, the county’s Community Development staff was juggling 350 open applications.

Community Development Director Jim Brown attributes the backlog to a staff shortage and a rush of permits in January stemming from those trying to get ahead of a new state energy code that went into effect Feb. 1 followed by a second wave from those trying to stay ahead of rising materials costs.

Builders submitted 151 more permits to the county’s planning department in the first four months of this year over last year.

Brown says it’s compounded by a staff that is stretched thin. A building permit technician was promoted to plans examiner to help ease that backlog, then the other plans examiner resigned to take a job as a building official elsewhere.

New people are coming on board, but it takes time to train them.

Normally, permits take anywhere from three weeks to more than two months to process.

The hope had been to catch up with finding and training new hires to fill open positions during the usual winter slowdown after an unexpectedly busy pandemic year.

Given the staffing and workload outlook, he expects the permit backlog won’t be cleared until fall at the earliest, provided “construction season slows down, along with permit applications, presumably dropping off.”