City of Dallas considering outside help to deal with building permit backlog

The city of Dallas has a backlog of building permits so bad that it is considering hiring outside help to get the problem under control.

The problem began when the city switched from an in-person system to online after the pandemic began.

People in Dallas have been waiting more than three months to get permits that used to only take a matter of hours.

It's a problem that's costing the city jobs, homes and much-needed tax revenue.

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Two lots in West Dallas represent two of an estimated 600 missing homes in Dallas.

Joshua Correa, owner of Divino Homes, says the delays add up to big bucks for home buyers.

"Now, we've added $15,000-$20,000 for the price of that home," he said.

And Phil Crone with the Dallas Builders Association estimates the city is missing out on more than $250 million tax dollars due to the backlog.

"The tax base goes to streets and roads, all the things the city is worried about with the budget crunch," he said.

Crone says what makes the Dallas backlog puzzling is that it has not happened in other North Texas cities that also had to transition to online permitting due to the pandemic.

"Dallas went from first to worst," he said. "We used to get a permit in hours. It took longer to park."

Crone says other cities have maintained a 2-3-week turnaround time before and after the pandemic.

"It came down to organizational ineptitude that created the problem in Dallas," he said.

The head of economic development, Dallas City Councilman Tennell Atkins, says the city will now consider spending $5 million for three outside companies to help chip away at the backlog.

"The system is broke," he said. "We're going to fix the system. We have to fix the system now."

Councilman Atkins says the vote Wednesday is just the first step to solving the systemic problems in the department. The $5 million dollars to pay for the outside companies' help will come from the fund paid for by building permits.