The Bureau of Development Services and the Bureau of Technology Services are making progress together on the Portland Online Permitting System (POPS), a program that is moving the City’s paper-based development review process to a more streamlined and efficient online digital system. When complete, it will make permitting services more accessible to the community and increase the efficiency of the process for all customers.
The first major project to roll out in 2019 was PDX ePlans, the City’s new electronic plan review system. PDX ePlans is now being used for all process managed commercial projects. The first permit to be issued through PDX ePlans was for the Argyle Street Apartments, an affordable housing development in the North Portland’s Kenton Neighborhood. When complete, the Argyle Street Apartments will add 189 affordable housing units with mixed-use retail and office spaces.
According to the project team who worked on this project, reviews were more accurate, cutting the permitting time in half. Angie Tomlinson, the PDX ePlans team lead, notes how applicants appreciate the ease of “pushing a button” and plans are simply uploaded. She also explains how the review process is faster because reviewers work at the same time instead of waiting for a set of paper plans to be delivered to each reviewer. “Our reviewers can do their work simultaneously, and their comments are available in real-time. This ensures transparency, accuracy and collaboration, all in a shorter time frame,” says Angie.
Customers also appreciate the great improvements that PDX ePlans offers. “It was fantastic to work through our first online permit with BDS,” says Diana Moosman, Architect at MWA Architects, Inc., architect of record for the Argyle Street Apartments. “It was daunting at first, but much better than switching out large sheets of paper over multiple trips to the City. The transition was smooth for our office.”
Based on the initial results of using PDX ePlans, the Bureau of Development Services is now fine tuning the process for applicants and staff. Soon, using PDX ePlans will become an option for all commercial projects, not just those that are process managed. After that, the team will begin working on residential permitting using PDX ePlans.
Stay tuned for more updates on POPS in future issues of The Plans Examiner.
Interested in learning more about PDX ePlans? Visit our website.
For the latest update from the POPS program, check out this video: