Western States Take Up Permit Reform

Originally published on March 20, 2024, by Toby Burke for NAIOP.

NAIOP members know that the procurement of a local permit is a fundamental and essential part of commercial real estate development in providing communities with properties for people to live, work and play. However, local permitting processes vary and too often become unnecessarily delayed. These variations and delays lead to uncertainties that affect the development’s completion, the financing structure, the retention of contractors, resources and equipment, and, ultimately, the cost for the owner, tenant and end-user.

Because of this, NAIOP chapters across the U.S. are using Georgia’s legislation as a template in advocating for reforms that bring predictability, consistency and transparency to the local permitting processes within their respective states. Key features of the state’s reforms include:

  • All local jurisdictions must publish the time frame for review, and the requirements for a permitting application to be deemed complete;
  • The fee charged for the permit must be related to the cost of approving a permit and not a revenue source for other government services and programs;
  • Jurisdictions must notify an applicant within five days of submitting an application if it is deemed complete, and then make a decision within 30 days;
  • If a jurisdiction is unable to make a decision in 30 days, the applicant may seek approval from a certified third party, such as a licensed architect or engineer (at the applicant’s expense) with half the local fee redirected to the third-party reviewer; and
  • Inspections must be performed within two days of the developer’s request. Similar to the permitting process, the developer may seek third-party approval if the local governing entity is unable.
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