Mayor Donna Deegan deserves credit for taking steps toward making housing more affordable in Jacksonville.
Her administration has found a way to streamline the process of getting building permits from City Hall.
As she said in her announcement, “It just takes too darn long to get a building permit.” And, she added, “Time is money.”
The need for lower-cost housing has been described as a crisis by some and others have advocated the left’s usual response to a crisis: try to spend your way out.
But the real reason for higher cost homes is almost always taxes and regulations.
Permitting is one of those regulations and lowering the time to get one can lower costs for small businesses.
Deegan noted that small businesses drive most of the local economy. In addition, the Gallup Poll shows small businesses are more trusted than government or the media.
The city issues some 9,000 permits a month and that number will increase with growth.
Deegan calls the new system Jaxepics, for Jax Enterprise Permitting Inspections and Compliance System. It relies on more use of digital documents that can be sent and returned more quickly than paper sent via snail mail.
Businesses can quickly find out the status of their permit applications and paper-shuffling by city employees is reduced.
The system also will highlight points in the process where delays are occurring, so changes can be made.
The administration hopes to cut the time for issuing commercial permits from an estimated 30 business days to 20.
The council had a special committee working on the permitting problem last year but apparently put their work on hold to see what Deegan would devise. Council President Ron Salem said the council will review the JaxEpics plan and consider hiring additional personnel Deegan said are needed.