Jul 2, 2017

Approved Building Permit Plans

Many approved permit drawings and related permit documents are already scanned by the Dept of Planning & Permitting:
AutoPermits (Document Scanning)
To fully enable electronic document retrieval and research, the Department continues the process of scanning microfilm records of permit plans. This process will ensure that all new permit plans are accessible in digital format. The Department also continues to scan new permit documents upon approval into digital image formats to be accessible through the POSSE system.
(City and County of Honolulu FY2011 Annual Report, Department of Planning & Permitting)
However, the public's access to these records is limited to printed hardcopies. Online access and the right to download these files digitally, is withheld.

Online access to these digital files would streamline the search and verification of critical building information and related details. These documents contain information of interest to the general public: building height, setbacks, number of required parking stalls, required landscaping and noise buffering. And these documents also provide critical information for design professionals: type of construction, fire-protection components, certificates of occupancy, permitted uses, and floor area calculations. More importantly, information in these Department of Planning & Permitting records are typically found nowhere else except on the approved plans and permit documents. High quality scans are important to accurately document critical building information and design professionals need access to the digital version of these documents.

The current practice of the Department of Planning & Permitting is to print hardcopies (typically reduced to 8.5"x11") of pdf'd documents or the public can have a professional printing service reproduce full-sized hardcopies (typically 24"x36"). High quality digital scans and online access to view/download these files, is preferred. The files are available, just not to the public.

May 7, 2017

Permit Streamlining Efforts

There are numerous resources for permit streamlining at the local level. Within the continental US, one of the primary motivations for efficiency and timely approvals is competition. If regulations become too unfriendly or the Authority Having Jurisdiction has a reputation for being difficult, developers will simply shift investment to the nearest neighbor and build at the fringes. Market forces (supply and demand) determine the baseline level of service and efficiency customers are willing to accept.

Unique places, such as San Francisco, New York City, and Honolulu that are highly desirable with geographically limited developable land are exceptions to this rule. And these cities are known to be highly regulated, difficult jurisdictions to obtain building approvals.

For perspective, the following map from HUDuser.gov, shows that not many US counties (dark blue) issued more than 1,500 building permits for new single or multi-family dwellings in 2010.

Resources for further reading:

Apr 30, 2017

ePlans checklist for plan submittals

http://www.honoluludpp.org/OnlineServices.aspxThe Dept of Planning & Permitting (DPP) has stated that one of the causes of building permit delays is incomplete plan submittals by design professionals. DPP has prepared the following checklist to assist.

Interestingly, incomplete plan submittals have been a longstanding issue for DPP. If incomplete documentation has been an ongoing issue with DPP, then by itself, it would not seem to be responsible for the recent spike in permit processing time that occurred after ePlans became mandatory for new buildings.

A 2004 City Auditor's report of DPP noted that "Failure to submit properly documented applications delays the approval process and can result in staff wasting their time trying to process or 'fix' incomplete or inadequate applications." 

The report stated that over 33% of applications received, were incomplete. 
"However, permitting staff often spend similar amounts of time with 'professional' applicants who submit incomplete and/or inadequate applications. For example, a professional applicant may submit plans that are stamped '80 percent complete,' when it is known that plans must be stamped as 100 percent complete. Such attempts result in staff wasting time attempting to process applications that professional applicants already know are unacceptable. Other professionals may submit inadequate or 'sloppy work,' banking on staff spending extra time and effort to correct their materials. Some insist their applications be submitted even when they are advised they are incomplete. While staff emphasized that many professionals make a good faith effort to submit correctly prepared applications, those who do not cause more delays for the remaining applicants." (Office of the City Auditor, 2004)
In support of complete submittals, DPP's ePlan submittal checklist is provided below. It can also be downloaded here.

   EPlans Checklist Plan Format by QQuestor on Scribd

Apr 27, 2017

Affordable Housing Requirments

The Honolulu City Council held an informational hearing to gather input from the community about proposed affordable housing requirements that would be implemented island wide. The video has been uploaded to Youtube in a 3 part video (total mtg time was about 2hr 40mins).

Testimony, in order of appearance:
PART 1 of 3
Sumner Lacroix, Univ of Hawaii Dept of Econ Research Fellow & Prof
Harrison Rue, Community Building & TOD Administrator, C&C of Honolulu
PART 2 of 3
Harrison Rue, Community Building & TOD Administrator, C&C of Honolulu
Rick Cassiday, Housing Market Analyst
John Wallenstrom, Pres. of Forrest City Hawaii
David Arakawa, Land Use Research Foundation
Gavin Thornton, Appleseed Ctr for Law & Economic Justice
Chris Duker, private developer
Scott Settle, Attorney and Pres NAIOP Hawaii
PART 3 of 3
Chris Duker, private developer
Bob Nakata, FACE (Faith Action for Community Equity)
Deja Ostrowski, JD, OHA (Office of Hawaiian Affairs)
Tim Hiu, Deputy Director C&C Dept of Planning & Permitting
Harrison Rue, Community Building & TOD Administrator, C&C of Honolulu

BACKGROUND: A policy brief was provided by the Mayor, highlighting major provisions along with an update on the implementation status of previous and current initiatives. More info at the Mayor's Office of Housing: City's Leadership on Affordable Housing.

In the video, part 3 of 3, at 14:03, Councilman Ikaika Anderson asks DPP Deputy Director Tim Hiu what can be done to reduce permit issuance time.

Feb 11, 2017

All Kinds Drafting Services

If you're looking for drafting services, please contact
Architect Mike Lau (MikeDaDino @ gmail d ot com)
2151 Wilder Ave
Honolulu, HI 96822

How Long Does it Take to Get an ADU Permit in Honolulu?

How Long Does it Take to get an ADU Permit in Honolulu? by QQuestor on Scribd

Spatial Distribution of ADUs in 2016

According to City data, there were 100 new ADUs (accessory dwelling units) created in Honolulu in 2016. All of them were mapped to identify which City Council District had the most and least new ADUs.

Ikaika Anderson's district tops the list with 36% or one out of every 3 ADUs. A closer look at the building permit data shows that 29 were in Kailua, 2 in Waimanalo, and 5 in Kaneohe. Trevor Ozawa's district of Hawaii Kai ranked second with 20% of all ADUs. Perhaps a surprise, Brandon Elefante's district that includes Pearl City and Waipahu, had the 3rd lowest rate, adding just 4 new ADUs. At the bottom of the list: Ron Menor's district that includes Kapolei and Mililani, did not have any ADUs.

Data provided by the City and County of Honolulu

Sep 29, 2016

Drafting Table

For some reason, we used to get a lot of calls asking if we sold drafting tables. (We do not.)
For those who are still looking: http://www.versatables.com/products/drafting/
Freedom Drafting Table

Jul 5, 2016

Population Weighted Density

Residential density is notoriously difficult to calculate in a meaningful way. The obvious calculation is # people divided by land area, but this would distort the data if large unoccupied lands were included as land area in the calculation along with highly dense centers of population. Urban areas should be recognized as different from rural or suburban locations, but how do you delineate the boundary between them?

Although a wealth of demographic data is gathered by census tracts, tracts come in irregular shapes and sizes. The formula below is one way researchers standardize quantities to be able to compare different sized tracts.

In 2012, the US Census Bureau used Population Weighted Density to more accurately describe density. As the description implies, areas with high concentrations of people are weighted more heavily than sparsely populated locations. The equation looks like this:
I wanted to understand how to "weight" a quantity and started to plug in numbers to see how to actually apply this formula.

As an example: 2 census tracts, each with 100 sq ft. Tract A has 2 people. Tract B has 100 people. The traditional measure of density would weigh both parcels equally and calculate density as: total pop÷total area: 102÷200 sq ft=0.51
Population Weighted Density: [(2÷100x2)+(100÷100x100)+(if there was a Tract C, etc)]÷102=0.98
The weighted density more accurately reflects the perceived density (PD in the equation above) since it gives more weight to areas with higher population. If the density were based solely on the larger tract, density would be 100/100=1.0. In our example, weighted density is 0.98.

Data downloaded from the US Census Bureau shows Honolulu ranks as the #4 most dense metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the country. (Why aren't we included in more studies about major metropolitan areas?)

Most of the above information comes from this article by CityLab