About 100 members of Oahu’s home construction industry held a rally outside Honolulu Hale this morning to express frustration with how long the city takes to process permits for building or renovating single-family homes.
The group, equipped with a bullhorn and a cowbell, chanted “permits now, permits now” amid speeches from leaders of the rally that was held to encourage the City Council to pass a bill that would impose a 60-day deadline for processing such permits if certain conditions are met.
The Building Industry Association of Hawaii contends that it takes the city Department of Planning and Permitting nine to 12 months to issue a standard residential building permit — a “crisis” situation for homeowners and industry workers.
Long delays in processing building permits have been a problem for the city for more than a decade, sometimes because of staffing shortages. The BIA claims that past attempts by the city to improve the system haven’t worked.
“Our businesses are up against a wall,” said Marshall Hickox, president and owner of Homeworks Construction Inc. “We’re going to make a difference, and we’re going to get this addressed one way or another.”
Hickox said city officials advised against holding the rally, but industry members felt it was necessary after two years of what he said were ineffective efforts working with DPP to process permits faster.
“If we got to do this again, we’ll do this again,” he said about the group protest.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell stopped by the rally to sympathize with the group and say that his administration is working to improve the permitting process.
“We need to do a lot better on getting permits out more quickly,” he said. “We’ll work with you to do that.”
Council Chairman Ernie Martin, who authored the bill to speed up permit processing, also had a message for rally participants. He ensured them that the measure, Bill 64, would pass.
“It will pass because I’m the Council chair and I wrote that bill,” Martin said.
He introduced Bill 64 in August, and it was scheduled to have its first hearing before the Council today.