Building is up, so increase staff

Regarding “Planning dept needs some work”: I agree. We recently had a simple project to enclose part of an upper deck, within the existing footprint of the home, for which we had professional building and site plans drawn up and reviewed and stamped by an engineer.

It took a three-step process, taking several days, to get an appointment just to submit the permit. Along the way I was told that staffing level was cut during the recession, but permit activity is back to 2006 levels, so planning and building department staff are swamped.

The staff was very pleasant and the application complete, as required. They said it would take 30 days to get the permit issued. Thirty days!? For a deck enclosure? After some consultation, they shortened it up to two weeks. Two days would have seemed reasonable for engineer-stamped plans — for a 180-square-foot addition.

My question: If permit applications are back to pre-recession levels, why isn’t staffing back to the levels needed to handle it? Where is the revenue from permits going? Does the county get the economic link between facilitating development, increased tax revenue and adequate staffing? Snohomish County has worked hard on land-use issues over the years, and adopted new plans and regulations under new statewide land-use laws. Congratulations! The benefits of having those tools in place are increased certainty, and less friction, with everyone knowing, or having access to, what is expected. It’s time to shift into implementation gear, open up the pipeline, and better handle the demand for new development. Staff up!

Nancy Noe

Snohomish County

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