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Portland nears milestone for new permitting bureau, prepares to announce name and structure

News Article
A house under construction with workers on site
Beginning July 1, development permitting will be unified under one bureau within the City of Portland.
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Later this month, the City of Portland will announce the name and structure for a new bureau that issues permits for a wide range of community projects – from building multi-family affordable housing, to making tenant improvements for a small business, to adding a deck to your family home. 

The new organization will launch July 1, unifying services that have been spread across city offices and bureaus.

“The great need for more housing, at all income levels, is what prompted me to call the question and deliver a better way of serving those who literally build and shape Portland every day. By bringing all of our development permits under one authority, we can reduce the cost and time it takes to get a project done. That’s good for Portlanders – and the economy,” said City Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who oversees the city’s new Community and Economic Development service area.

Last August, the Portland City Council passed a resolution introduced by Commissioner Rubio that directed city staff to reorganize permitting services. Since then, a project team has worked with customers and city staff to chart the path forward.

The new bureau will bring together all staff from the longstanding Bureau of Development Services with work teams from the Parks and Recreation, Transportation, Water, and Environmental Services bureaus.

Over the next two weeks, managers for the new organization are meeting with staff to share details about their future work teams. Permitting teams have also been involved in developing a name for the new bureau – a process that will culminate this month, with staff voting among final options using the City’s new ranked-choice ballot.

After the proposed name and structure are announced late this month, they will head to City Council for a May 22 vote. From there, it’s full speed ahead toward the July 1 launch.

This is an additional step in improving the City’s permitting process, said Terri Theisen, strategy manager of the Permit Improvement Team.

 “City staff have been working hard to improve turnaround times for Portlanders who need building permits. Creating this new organization will further support our ability to provide robust customer service and customer communications,” Theisen said. “This lays a foundation for Portland’s permitting organization to reach its full potential.”

A graphic shows a man confused about which of four doors to open, with the text "One project, so many permits. Where should I begin?" To the right, a person is smiling to welcome customers from a wide-open door with the text "Welcome to the City. How can I help?"

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