Friday, November 4, 2016

Baptists, Bootleggers, and "expedited permitting" in Austin...

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

You're not supposed to notice, buried beneath the cacophony of self-righteousness, that this new program will further entrench the biggest developers at the expense of every do-it-yourselfer, startup, and modest sized operation in town:
Builders in Austin have long complained about the city’s notoriously slow permitting process. Now, the city is set to launch a new program that will offer a faster option - but it comes with some costs.

Building in Austin typically means getting a permit from the city's Development Services Department. But as recent reports have shown, that process can be slow and convoluted. The city’s new expedited permit program offers a faster review process in exchange for a fee. Along with the additional charge, developers who take the faster route will have to ensure certain protections for construction workers, like providing safety training, workers compensation and paying a living wage – that’s $13.03 per hour in Austin.


He takes issue with a clause in the council resolution that requires expedited projects to recruit 30 percent of their workforce hours from Department of Labor-registered apprenticeships.

“Those are programs that are union programs,” Scheberle said. “There’s nothing that’s demonstrated that you’re better prepared or you’re more effective if you’ve gone through one of those.”

Scheberle thinks that requirement would give unfair preference to workers who go through training programs affiliated with labor unions.

“You have union apprenticeship that gets significant priority in hiring, and it disadvantages graduates from Austin Community College, area school districts, Goodwill and other kinds of local training programs,” he said.
Rather than fixing permitting for everyone, Council creates a pay-to-play 'fast lane' that only the largest developers will be able to afford while do-it-yourselfers, startups, and modest sized will be left to fester in the current system.  Meanwhile, the unions benefit from a mandate while simultaneously pricing their competition out of the labor market.  So large, existing, players get bigger while consumers face fewer options and higher prices.

If this sounds similar to what council did with Uber/Lyft...that's because it is.

But at least they cloaked the whole thing in self-righteous sanctimony.


One Practical Note: Restricting the number of commercially viable builders can do nothing but increase the number of McMansions in Central Austin.

1 comment:

  1. Quite right. Faster permits are necessary for every application. The City bureaucracy is simply trying to make as much work as possible our of each case. This slows down the process and has very liitle effect on safety.

    If they really cared about speeding up permits, then the City should adopt the same procrss as Travis County have been successfully using since 2009.


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