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Velocity: What to know about D.C.’s contentious building permit fast lane

Homeowners and Councilmembers are speaking out against DCRA’s program

The building permit process in Washington, D.C., is known for being slow and tedious, but there are ways to speed up the process. Unfortunately, this fast lane is incredibly costly. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’s (DCRA) Velocity program can reduce waiting times from 30 days to one day for a fee of $50,000. A less expensive option, known as Expedition Service, costs $5,000 for the first plan review session and $2,500 for additional sessions. Varying standard permit fees are not included.

According to NBC4, the program began as an emergency rule in September 2017. It was meant to expire in January 2018, but has continued since then.

In an interview with NBC4, Brianne Ryback, a D.C. homeowner, said, “I read the whole PDF on the program, and I was like, this doesn’t speak to residents. Residents can’t afford $25,000 just to get a permit in a day or two, and so now we have to wait.”

While a DCRA policy states that wait for a permit should not exceed 30 days, D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau said, “We have cases coming to my office on a regular basis where either it’s taking forever to hear back.”

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson also spoke against the Velocity program, saying that the problem is that the DCRA does not process permit applications promptly. He added, “DCRA needs to do a better job—for both residents and businesses. I believe breaking up and reorganizing the agency is the best way.”

DC’s $50K Building Permit Fast Lane Is Angering Homeowners Who Want Basic Repairs [NBC4]