Planning and Development: A Small Bump

Building fee hikes will pay for new hires

Planning and Development: A Small Bump

The Planning and Development Review Department is undergoing a bit of a sea change this year as additional staff comes on board to process a backlog of building permit applications and to move toward implementing the new Imagine Austin Com­pre­hensive Plan. City Council has already adopted a plan to increase fees – the department's first hike since 1993 – to generate revenue for about a dozen additional full-time hires. The department's proposed total budget stands at nearly $32.5 million, up from $27.5 million last year.

After cutting nine positions about two years ago, the department found itself struggling to make do with a skeleton crew to handle Austin's swift rebound from the economic recession. Commercial developers and small-business owners grew increasingly frustrated by the long delays in processing building plans, as well as the assortment of other paperwork and applications required of new projects, and the complaints gained a more public platform during the spring City Council campaigns.

The backlog of cases is so immense, department chief Greg Guernsey told council members in June, "Even if we were to catch up, we would still fall behind because we actually can't keep up with the amount of work coming in." Austin is poised for more commercial growth in the next couple of years, he said; development applications jumped by more than 50% in the first half of the 2011-12 fiscal year, compared to the first six months of the previous year. "So many people are interested in coming to Austin and building," Guernsey said.

If the city continues its predicted path toward more growth over the next 10 years, new developments would ideally follow the road map laid out in the recently adopted comprehensive plan, which will require extensive revisions to the city's Land Development Code.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Planning and Development Review
Then There's This: Tuning In to Austin
Then There's This: Tuning In to Austin
Before revising land code, city performs field work with 'Code Next'

Amy Smith, Sept. 27, 2013

More city budget
Breathing Room for the City Budget
Breathing Room for the City Budget
Proposed FY 2019 city budget features sunnier projections

Michael King, Aug. 10, 2018

Strategizing a City Budget
Strategizing a City Budget
Finance staff delivers tentative 2019 forecast

Michael King, April 13, 2018

More by Amy Smith
The Work Matters
The Work Matters
A look back at some of our most impactful reporting

Sept. 3, 2021

Well-Behaved? Let's Assume Not.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: The Untold Story
Barbara Leaming's new biography makes the case that Jackie O suffered from PTSD

Nov. 28, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Planning and Development Review, city budget

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle