Housing Complex

A “Common App” For Permits?

Haven't had an excuse to post this one yet. (Darrow Montgomery)

Along with transportation and infrastructure, the Gray Transition has come out with a report on economic development. Primarily, it recommends the drafting of new master plans (on the green economy and traffic issues) and the establishment of new supervisory bodies (a Creative Economy Leadership Council, a quasi-governmental authority to handle large development projects, and a special office to deal with all things St. Elizabeths). It also endorses adding "Workforce" to the title of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, which would be way too much of a mouthful, and create the acronym DMPEWD (say it!).

Additionally, this was the committee tasked with housing issues. I know the transition reports are supposed to be just some citizen-generated suggestions, not a comprehensive evaluation of all the District's programs, but damn this section is thin: Just one bullet point giving lip service to investing in the most economically distressed parts of the city, and emphasizing the importance of pursuing federal grants. Did no one on this committee have any more substantive ideas than that? Weak sauce, my friends. [UPDATE, Thursday 2:50 p.m. – I've learned that the housing subcommittee did, in fact, do a longer report, which is reassuring.]

Anyway, there is one concrete idea in the report: Coordinating with surrounding jurisdictions to create similar applications for business licenses, permits, and inspections. A "common app," you might call it–just like college! It's not obvious, though, that Maryland and Virginia would agree with the transition committee's rationale for such a change. "This leadership would disproportionately benefit the city by simplifying the process of doing business with District agencies, meaning more businesses would view the District as a potential home," they reason. In other words, make our permits similar, so people will come here instead of there.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    This is dumb. I wrote a long reply but my computer crashed it. In short, there's little if any ROI to this. Not to mention the massive amount of effort to get the other jurisdictions to buy in.

    DC should focus however on significantly its own business processes through IT improvements. There are many opportunities to do this. And if they focused on doing this in a manner that made life better for clients/customers/citizens that would be a major improvement.

    e.g. http://www.curamsoftware.com/document/case-study-north-carolina-fast-fix

    Note that the redesigned DC Gov. webpages are harder to use than the previous version, and have removed tens of thousands of documents from public access.

  • oboe

    Primarily, it recommends the drafting of new master plans (on the green economy and traffic issues) and the establishment of new supervisory bodies

    Let a thousand Blue Ribbon commissions and study groups blossom!

    Oh, and what a great idea to focus exclusively on dumping a bunch of city money into the most blighted areas of the city, rather than encouraging private-sector investment in areas where investors *want* to invest, and driving middle-class population growth. Why not just take our revenues and flush them down the toilet?

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.

    I agree with Richard - a focus on improving permit applications and process within DC is far more important than trying to negotiate similarities with MD and VA that would be of dubious value.