Friday, July 25, 2014         

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Mayoral candidates discuss city's pilot permitting system

By B.J. Reyes


The city plans to unveil next week a pilot project aimed at streamlining the permitting process at some city departments for developments.

Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell gave few details but briefly outlined the project at a mayoral candidate forum yesterday. Other candidates at the forum were former Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle and University of Hawaii engineering professor Panos Prevedouros.

Permitting and development was a key discussion point at the forum, which was hosted by NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association, Hawaii Chapter. All three candidates said technology is a key component of getting permits processed faster.

The pilot project to be unveiled by the city next week will place permit applications in a computer system accessible by all governing departments, allowing the application to be reviewed simultaneously by all affected agencies.

"They can see what each other are saying," Caldwell said. "They can weigh in whether they agree or not."

His response came after Carlisle and Prevedouros were critical of the city for not having such a system in place now.

"Thirty years into the computer era and we're still catching up," Prevedouros said.

Prevedouros said the next mayor "will have to be reasonable" on how much development can occur, noting that infrastructure such as roads and sewers should be the priority.

"As long as we are saddled with very poor infrastructure and traffic congestion, we are in for down times," he said.

In addition to using technology, Carlisle said the mindset of the permitting process has to be less adversarial.

"The mindset is one where we want these permits to go out," he said. "We want them to occur quickly, and we should have that attitude."

The process also needs to be more streamlined, he said.

"If there are multiple different types of permits that you can consolidate under a single roof, you only have to make one trip," Carlisle said. "We know that there's a lot of development that's going to be going on right now in West Oahu.

"So if that's true, do we have the permitting situation out there so it can be easily accessible without having to come down to downtown, wait in line and do things like that?"

The special election to fill the remaining two years in the term vacated by Mufi Hannemann is Sept. 18.

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