PROCESS TO RESOLVE DEVELOPMENT REVIEW DELAYS
Binding City Policy
1. The Blueprint 2000 Report recommended that a single entity should resolve inter-bureau policy or process disputes; this entity could be the Director of the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) or a committee of directors from bureaus involved with development review.
2. Resolution No. 35162 adopted the FY 2003-2004 Regulatory Improvement Work Plan that includes a list of regulatory process and service improvement recommendations. One of those recommendations is to develop a process to resolve interagency policy conflicts or other issues that result in a delay in the issuance of development review permits.
3. With six City bureaus involved in development review and each having overlapping and different responsibilities for code implementation, delays on development projects may occur. The current system does not include an established way to resolve these delays.
4. Development review customers should have a process available to them that allows for investigation of a delay in the issuance of a development permit.
5. After considering input from the directors of the City’s development review bureaus and from the Development Review Advisory Committee, the Bureau of Development Services proposes a process for resolving development review delays.
NOW, THEREFORE, the Council directs:
a. Exhibits A and B, Process to Resolve Development Review Delays and Process Resolution Flow Chart (PDF document, 130kb), dated February 5, 2004 are hereby adopted;
b. Directors of the development review bureaus, and/or their delegates, are responsible for participating as directed by this process.
c. The Director of the Bureau of Development Services, in consultation with the other Directors of City development bureaus, shall monitor the effectiveness of this process and, if warranted, make recommended changes to the City Council.
d. This ordinance constitutes binding City policy and shall be filed with the Office of the City Auditor.
The City will adhere to the following process to resolve significant development review delays, especially when they involve multiple City development review bureaus, differences in code interpretation, or explicitly conflicting code provisions. The process described below and in the flow chart (Exhibit B) serves as a supplemental process to the City’s established turnaround times and processes already in place for reviewing and issuing development review permits.
Over time, the Portland City Council has given various bureaus overlapping and/or differing responsibilities for administering and enforcing regulations governing the development of property. The City’s permit review and issuance process involves review and approval by 6 City bureaus that administer multiple City, State, and Federal development regulations. This work is coordinated through the City’s Development Services Center (DSC) and through inter-bureau agreements. In addition to addressing coordination among the review bureaus, the agreements establish specific review time periods (turnaround times) in order to process permits in a timely fashion. If delays occur outside of these established timelines, it is necessary for an applicant to understand the various options available to identify and resolve these delays.
Since permitting is a collaborative effort between the applicant and the City, prior to requesting that the Director of the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) initiate this process, it is incumbent upon the applicant to contact the Development Services Center and verify the following:
1) check the status of their permit to see who has signed off and if check sheets indicating additional or missing information have been issued;
2) verify that the City’s established turnaround times have not been exceeded; and
3) provide the City timely responses to needed information on check sheets and go through all available City and Bureau appeal processes. Because delays may occur due to inadequate staffing or simple miscommunications, most delays may be resolved with a call to the reviewer or supervisor. This process is shown on the left side of the flow chart in Exhibit B.
When delays cannot be resolved in an efficient and timely manner by staff in the affected bureau, it is beneficial to institutionalize a process to resolve significant development review delays. This process involves personnel in the affected bureau(s) who have the authority to make binding decisions. The process has three specific benefits:
1) it assures development review applicants that their issues will be elevated and addressed in an efficient, timely manner;
2) it may identify significant conflicts among regulations, major policy issues, or administrative problems that can then be addressed in the annual Regulatory Improvement Work Plan, Code Maintenance or point out necessary changes in other legislative or administrative processes; and
3) it significantly reduces the need for the Council to adjudicate inter-bureau disagreements on the interpretation of regulations as they apply to specific development proposals.
In a case where a delay cannot be resolved, the applicant requests the BDS Director, or his/her delegate, to initiate this resolution process. The BDS Director will evaluate the legitimacy of the complaint and identify the nature of the delay based on the information provided by staff and the applicant. This assessment will occur within 3 business days of the request.
At the end of this assessment, the Director will
1) identify a formal remedy,
2) determine that the complaint is unfounded, or
3) see a legitimate basis for the delay that requires additional action under these provisions. If further action is required by the City to resolve the delay, the BDS Director will determine whether the identified issue(s) affects a single bureau or multiple bureaus and based on this analysis, will initiate the appropriate upper management review by the affected bureau(s). This upper management review will occur within 3 business days.
If this review renders a decision, the applicant is notified and the permitting process continues. If still unresolved, the BDS Director convenes the Development Director’s Panel to review the issue. The Development Director's Panel is an ad hoc decision-making group, convened as needed by the BDS Director, made up of at least 3 development review bureau directors or their delegates. Participating bureaus would include the Bureau of Development Services, Bureau of Planning, Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Office of Transportation, Bureau of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, Bureau of Parks and Recreation, Bureau of Water Works and the Portland Development Commission. At minimum, the directors and/or delegates of the bureaus involved in the delay or code conflict should be on the panel. Within 5 days, of the BDS Director’s initiation, the Director’s Panel will meet to identify a resolution of the issue. The applicant will be informed by the BDS Director of the Panel’s decision.
If further action is needed by the City, the Panel may recommend changes in administrative procedures, code or policy to the appropriate decision-making body. Annually, the BDS Director will report the decisions of the Panel to the Development Review Advisory Committee (DRAC) who, in turn, may recommend additional system or code changes.
Ordinance No. 178254, passed by Council March 17, 2004, effective April 16, 2004.