Building permit process ‘dragging on and on’ in Portland

Multnomah County

The City of Portland currently has 848 commercial permits and 1,585 residential permits waiting to be issued.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Frustratingly slow, unpredictable and unpleasant. -That’s how Portland residents describe the city’s building permit process.

The city has said it’s working to fix several issues with the permit process that were identified by an audit in March. But applicants say they haven’t seen any improvements yet.

One developer told KOIN 6 News they will no longer build in Portland because it took the city three-and-a-half years to issue permits for one of their housing projects.

Linda Oji knows the feeling all-too-well. Oji owns a Pure Barre studio on the South Waterfront that was supposed to be open by now but she’s been waiting four months for the city to approve their permit. Due to the wait, Oji said construction costs have increased by $90,000 and she’s lost staff she hired because they can’t afford to be out of work for so long.

“The timeline of this has just been dragging on and on and all you can do is wait, there’s nothing else you can really do,” she said.

The City of Portland currently has 848 commercial permits and 1,585 residential permits waiting to be issued.

An audit in March found the city plan review of permits is too slow, the city doesn’t follow its own customer complaint policy to resolve delays, and Portland’s “fragmented form of government exacerbates the situation.”

The permitting process isn’t handled by one agency. Seven different bureaus and the city council are responsible for plan reviews.

Commissioners Mapps and Ryan are now leading a task force that aims to streamline the process and move it along quicker.

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