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Earlier this year, Mayor Mike Johnston unveiled his ambitious citywide objectives for 2024. In a bid to enhance governmental efficiency, the city aims to streamline the development permitting process, with the goal of slashing permitting time and reducing city review durations by 30%. A collaborative multi-agency task force has been convened, operating with a sense of urgency to innovate processes across the system. This interdisciplinary team comprises representatives from key departments such as the Department of Community Planning and Development (CPD), Denver Fire, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), Excise and Licensing, Technology Services, and others. All these departments have already made significant progress toward shortening the permit process duration for construction in the City of Denver.

Increasing Valuation Thresholds for Commercial Projects

One hurdle of the permitting process that causes delays is discrepancies between a project’s valuations. The rising cost of construction materials in the past decade has increased by approximately 50%. In response to this, the City of Denver has adjusted the valuation thresholds for Major, Intermediate, and Minor commercial projects. Ideally, this will better align project reviews with a more current understanding of the market and have more fitting criteria.

House and Garage Permits are Now Bundled Together

New residential projects that include scopes to build both a single-family home and a garage were previously required to obtain two separate permits, one for each structure. Now, these residential projects will only need to obtain a single permit to cover both structures. This change is a sensible step toward simplifying the permit process and shortening the associated review times. Moreover, this change will help city inspectors by creating efficiencies and reducing the surplus of scheduled site visits.

Improved Plan Intake for Permit Review

In recent years, Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department has struggled to handle the sheer volume of plan submissions annually. Since then, Denver has implemented a suite of changes to the intake process aimed at reducing the amount of time an application spends in the initial stage. Denver expects these changes to better discern whether a project submittal is correct or rejected at intake, resulting in less time spent in Denver’s review department.

Denver’s concerted efforts to innovate and streamline the development permitting process underscore a commitment to improving efficiency and responsiveness within city governance. Through adjustments such as increasing valuation thresholds for commercial projects, bundling house and garage permits, and enhancing plan intake procedures, the city is poised to significantly reduce permit review times. These proactive measures are sure to give residents hope over the lengthy permit times that have plagued the construction industry.

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