News Flash

Planning & Public Works

Posted on: December 29, 2022

Reflecting on 2022 and Looking Ahead to 2023

Year in Review

As the year comes to a close, we want to take a moment to reflect on 2022 and look ahead to 2023.

We implemented several changes over the last year to ensure compliance and consistency with Pierce County Code and certain state and federal agency guidance. We recognize that many of you experienced different outcomes than you may have expected and that some review times were just too long. We understand the frustration this has caused our customers and want to reassure you that Pierce County Planning and Public Works Department (PPW) remains committed to the “Best Permitting Agency” philosophy and will continue to take actions that improve our services while ensuring compliance with applicable regulations.

In that spirit, there are many significant accomplishments to celebrate and several process improvements planned for the new year. 

2022 Development Activity Summary

  • Processed over 17,500 applications, including nearly 1,600 new single-family home permits and 350 multi-family unit permits.
  • Served over 4,500 customers in the Development Center lobby.
  • Conducted 450 virtual customer meetings.
  • Performed 64,000 construction, site, and sewer inspections (1,000 of those virtual!) to keep projects on schedule. 

2022 Process Improvements

  • Hired and trained 26 staff members that support Development Center functions.
  • Implemented a new Knowledge Transfer program designed to reduce employee onboarding time and increase permit review throughput.
  • Launched PALS+ system updates that improve the efficiency of application intake and user experience.
  • Added separate phone lines for technical subject matter experts so that time is more focused on reviews.
  • Expanded the use of third-party reviews to assist with applications that require engineering review.
  • Implemented weekly backlog meetings with the department’s director team and the engineering, land use, and environmental review teams to develop strategies and expectations on backlog elimination.  
  • Created a Floodplain Services review team to assist applicants in meeting floodplain regulations and reduce the workload on the Development Engineering team.
  • Restarted our process of Redline Approvals for simple site development permits in December.
  • Improved communication between our Building review team and the Fire Prevention Bureau to standardize and provide more consistent reviews with cross over permit applications.
  • Created a process to allow the temporary closure of public roads in developments under construction to address site security issues.
  • Held weekly internal meetings to discuss shoreline project and increase consistency in implementation of shoreline regulations.

What is Coming in 2023

PPW is a learning organization committed to continuous process improvement. We welcome and need your input on process changes we are considering and suggestions we’ve received from industry. Some of the process improvements we are pursuing in 2023 include:

  • Expanding our “Fast Track” and “Front Load” residential permitting programs.
  • Improving the financial bond review and acceptance process.
  • Evaluating options for a user-friendly, customized application portal to assist infrequent applicants navigate complex development regulations.
  • Creating a 2-track submittal system to distinguish between infrequent applicants and industry professionals.
  • Eliminating engineering review of emergency residential sewer line repair permits.
  • Creating a guidance document for shoreline projects to ensure a more consistent approach to “mitigation sequencing” required when critical areas are impacted by a project.
  • Updating and clarifying criteria for cultural resource preservation requirements.  

If you have ideas for additional process improvements or want to provide input on how we can ensure responsible and compliant development in a more efficient manner, please email us at [email protected].

In summary, 2022 has been a challenging year for our development process team and for you – our customers. We look forward to continuing to work with you on improving the delivery of our services while accommodating unprecedented growth in our county and preserving precious public resources for future generations. From our staff to yours, thank you for your contribution to making Pierce County a place our residents are proud to call home.

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