In January, the DC Council introduced a bill that would split the city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) into two agencies in hopes of streamlining the building permit acquisition process. Around the same time, a new program was being enacted by DCRA that would also speed up the building permit acquisition process — for some.
This program created two routes for fast-tracked approvals: the Velocity Service for permit seekers whose plans and designs are 100 percent complete, and the Expedited Service for permit seekers whose plans are still in the design phase. Those that wanted to fast-track their permits must do an initial consultation in-person, over the phone or via web conference. They would then file their permit applications online and upload documents into a city database. If the DCRA Coordinator approves the project for fast-tracking, the applicant pays a $5,000 non-refundable deposit. There will be a number of meetings to review plans prior to permits being approved.
The convenience of these fast-tracking programs comes at a steep cost: up to $75,000 in addition to the cost of permits. The standard Velocity program has a $50,000 fee for buildings smaller than 50,000 square feet, a $50,000 fee plus 50 cents per additional square foot for buildings sized from 50,001 to 99,999 square feet, and a fee of $75,000 for buildings 100,000 square feet or larger. For the Expedition Service program, the first plan review session is $5,000 for buildings smaller than 10,000 square feet or $10,000 for buildings larger than 10,000 square feet; each subsequent review session is $2,500 or $5,000, respectively.
While it may be too soon to draw any conclusions about the results of such a program existing, some homeowners have already begun feeling the stress of potentially-delayed permit processing, whether by design (as a revenue-raiser for DCRA) or as an unintended consequence of developers (which tend to have more disposable funds) skipping to the front of the line.
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dcra-velocity-program/13787.
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