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City announces name and structure for Portland’s new permitting bureau

News Article
A graphic with the headline Portland Permitting & Development illustrates the goals of the new bureau. On the left, a man holds his hands in the air looking confused, surrounded by four doors. Text beneath his image says "One project, so many permits. Where should I begin?" On the right, a professional woman welcomes customers from a wide-open door. Beneath her, text says "Welcome to the City. How can we help?"
Portland Permitting & Development will issue permits for a wide range of development projects, including construction, home improvements and tree work.
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Starting July 1, Portlanders who need most types of residential and commercial permits will have a single destination: Portland Permitting & Development.

City leaders released the name and structure today for this new bureau, marking a major milestone in efforts to streamline permitting. The Portland City Council is expected to vote May 22 on the proposed reorganization.

“We have the opportunity to optimize permitting for community members, businesses and city staff,” City Commissioner Carmen Rubio said. “When Portlanders need to get a project done, they’ll know exactly where to go – and over time, as the new team grows in their work together, Portlanders can also expect excellent customer service.”

Permits are designed to make sure development is done safely and responsibly. However, they can be a source of frustration for customers navigating multiple bureaus and processes across the City of Portland.

Portland’s new approach has been taking shape since August, when the council unanimously approved Rubio’s resolution directing city staff to unify permitting. A project team has worked with customers and employees to develop the proposal.

Portland Permitting & Development will feature nine work teams, including one dedicated to customer support for all types of permitting. Other teams will specialize in specific parts of the development process, such as public infrastructure and building permit review. 

The new bureau brings together staff from the longstanding Bureau of Development Services, which will be phased out, with work teams from the Parks & Recreation, Transportation, Water and Environmental Services bureaus. In all, Portland Permitting & Development will have about 350 employees.

Over the past month, staff helped select the name through a committee, focus groups and a ranked-choice voting exercise – a nod to voter-approved changes to Portland’s election method and form of government. Portland will host its first ranked-choice election in November and officially launch the mayor-council form of government in January.

Streamlined permitting exemplifies Portland’s community-centered approach to modernizing city government, said Chief Administrative Officer Michael Jordan. 

“We’re committed to common-sense improvements that make our government effective and efficient, and Portland Permitting & Development is leading the way,” Jordan said. “Naming this new organization is only the beginning of our work to improve permitting.”

Portland Permitting & Development Structure

A graphic shows the words "Portland Permitting & Development" in the center, surrounded by nine bolts - each one listing a work team for the new bureau. The teams are Customer Support & Development Services, Inspection Services, Land Use Services, Equity & Policy Development, Digital Services, Admin & Business Operations, Public Infrastructure Permit Review, Property Compliance and Plan Review.