Data from the Maricopa County Planning and Development Department shows some encouraging signs for the nation’s fastest-growing county.
Building permit submissions are up substantially year-over-year, with a greater percentage of these being completed online, according to a release.
Planning and Development reports 1,371 permit applications were submitted in April 2020 compared to 1,141 in April 2019, a 20% increase, the release states. Permit submission numbers have grown every month so far in 2020.
“We know the economic impact of this crisis is far from over and we are seeing impacts across all industries,” stated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4. “What this data represents to me, though, is a reason to be hopeful. People continue to build in Maricopa County. They want to invest in their future here, and the Planning and Development Department is allowing them to do that with greater ease even during times of social distancing."
According to the release, Planning and Development received 4,897 permit applications in the first four months of 2020. The department issued 3,596 building permits, including 720 new house permits, during that same time period. The total value of the issued permits was $294,967,958. In the first four months of 2020, 65% of building permit applications were submitted online, a trend that began even before the full impact of COVID-19 shutdowns was felt.
“Improvements to the online permitting experience made prior to the pandemic have enabled more individuals and businesses to apply for permits on their schedule, at their convenience. In fact, we saw the percentage of permits submitted online jump from 49% in January to 77% in March,” stated Jen Pokorski, Planning and Development Director. “Our team is committed to building on these successes so our community can grow in a safe, balanced way.”
Planning and Development’s customer lobby closed to the public March 26 due to COVID-19, and a virtual counter was established in its place that allowed business to continue with minimal disruption, consistent turn around times on plan review, and prompt building inspections. Permits are accepted online or via drop box, and staff is still available by phone or the website to answer any questions. The data indicates that demand for online services was increasing even when the physical customer lobby was still open, according to the release.
Over the past several months, Planning and Development, with support from the Board of Supervisors and county leadership, has prioritized additional online options, including offering FastTrack permits to be submitted electronically. FastTrack permits are permits for simple projects, such as pools, carports and fences, that can be processed the same day.
Last fall’s redesign of the county website, Maricopa.gov, included an easier-to-understand online permit process.