Atlanta Building News
September 13, 2011

HBA Supports Atlanta Building Permit Reform Plan

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HBA Supports Atlanta Building Permit Reform Plan

The Reed administration introduced this week a package of ordinances that would reorganize the oft-maligned Office of Buildings and reform the process of reviewing and approving building permits in Atlanta.

Office of Buildings Director Don Rosenthal and Planning and Community Development Commissioner James Shelby presented the first half of the proposed legislative package to the Community Development/Human Resources Committee on Aug. 30. The second half of the package was introduced for first reading in the Finance/Executive Committee on Aug. 31.

The Office of Buildings has been criticized for a history of poor management, inefficient application processing, a lack of adequate staff resources, and poor customer service. The first step toward righting the office was Mayor Reed's appointment of Director Rosenthal in late 2010. Rosenthal was recommended following a nationwide search by a review committee that included builders as well as others from the real estate development industry.

Key features of the proposal include:

• consolidation of all permitting functions of various City agencies into the Office of Buildings;
• authorization of financial incentives for cross-training and International Code Council certification of inspectors and permit technicians;
• creation of a fast-track permitting process for interior tenant build-outs of up to 3,000 sq. ft.; and
• establishment of an Enterprise Fund and a new permit fee structure that will provide long-term financial support for current and future improvements in the Office of Buildings.

"The proposal will dramatically improve the way the City issues permits and performs inspections," said Director Rosenthal. "The development community will see a paradigm shift at the Office of Buildings in the customer service levels, project support, and timeliness of inspections and plan review."

Council leaders plan to conduct a joint committee Work Session to discuss and review the proposal in mid-September.

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