14 September 2009

Our Building Permit Application Will Be Rejected

That's what the permit office employee told me this morning. After many questions (mine) about the idiotic policy (hers), I figured out that some rule somewhere requires city staff to approve or reject all applications within seven days. Since flood plain review takes three weeks, our application can't be approved in seven days, so it will be rejected -- at which point they will continue processing it. Bureaucracy at its finest. Apparently, in my case, "rejected" really just means that seven days are up, and the main review people have forwarded the application to the flood plain folks. It sounded to me like their computer needs a "pending" status, but apparently I know nothing about how to run a bureaucracy.

On the other hand, I arrived at 7:55 and was served at 8:05 -- a personal best. (Arriving five minutes before the office opened, I was still fifth on the list. The first person signed in at 7:34.) After finally piecing together why I shouldn't be alarmed that my application will be rejected, I asked about the electrical service application (which leaving out of one's application, incidentally, is also a grounds for rejection -- I think pretty much anything you do gets your application rejected). Despite all of the complicated questions about amperage and voltage and air conditioner tonnage, it turns out all Austin Energy really needs to approve the electrical application is name and address, plus a site plan. They just check that you aren't proposing to build anything in the utility easement. So down I went to the first floor to get the sign-off from Austin Energy (the longest part of my visit this morning was the 10-15 minutes I spent waiting there), the actual processing of my electrical application took perhaps two minutes, and then it was back up to the dreaded second floor, where, fortunately, all I had to do was drop off my plans and application and log the drop-off in the mystical permit application book.

All in all, in and out in about 40 minutes (not bad for three stops), and at the office at 8:45.

Now, of course, begins the process of wondering when I should call to check on the application. Apparently you have to do this periodically, lest your plans get lost under everyone else's plans on a desk somewhere.

And let's not forget next week's highlight: rejection!

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