City of Tulsa Development Services Plan
What is Development Services?
Development Services is responsible for building and infrastructure development plan review, permitting and inspections for developments within the City of Tulsa.
During Mayor G.T. Bynum’s 2019 State of the City address, he announced two major improvements to better serve the citizens of Tulsa and the development community.
Decrease Plan Review Times from 5 Weeks to 5 Days
- Launch of Self-Certification Program – Development Services implemented a Self-Certification program that allows qualifying project owners to contract with design professionals to self-certify their development with the City. This action allows the project owner to bypass the city building plan review process. The City is ready to issue the permit within 24-hours of receiving the completed self-certification application.
- Contract for Services for 3rd Party Plan Review – By March 2019, contracts will be in place for the City to engage third party entities to review plans in the event of an influx of permit applications that might otherwise create a backlog in the City’s processes.
- Permanent Addition of Development Services Staff – The City posted eight new positions in Development Services. The positions include:
- Five new plan reviewers, including a Section Manager
- Two infrastructure development positions, including an additional hydrologist for stormwater review needs
- An additional staff member for the Permit Center to ensure speedy issuance of permits.
Modernize Fees to Improve Service
- The City of Tulsa Updated ICC fee schedule to 2018 – The City utilizes the International Code Council (ICC) Building Valuation Data Table to help determine permitting fees.
- Until the updating to the 2018 ICC fee schedule, the City used the 2005 ICC valuation table, meaning the data by which building permits fees were calculated had not been updated in 13 years.
- As a result, staffing remained stagnant in the Development Services Department despite the increased workload as the pace of development activity in the City increased.
April 2018, Implementation of Online Permitting System – Launched the online permitting portal, which allows individuals, businesses and developers to apply for, receive permits and pay online without having to come to City Hall.
July 2018, Alignment of Development Services and Economic Development – Formed the Development Services Department as a standalone group reporting to the Chief of Economic Development. This structural shift ensures the department is fully integrated within the City’s economic development goals.
October 2018, Consolidation of Planning Department and INCOG – Consolidated long-range and short-term planning efforts into a single entity at INCOG to provide the public with a single point of contact for planning and zoning services.
- The additional plan review staff and alternative plan review programs like Self-Certification and 3rd party review vendors will reduce overtime in the Development Services Department and allow the Department to achieve a target date of five days to initial plan review by the end of 2019.
- A 2015 assessment of the Development Services Department by BKD found that Tulsa was staffed at 60 percent of peer cities – 69 total staff compared to an average of 115 (2018 staffing level is 62).
- The same study by BKD identified that nationally, permit fees were 1.7 percent of total construction costs; in Tulsa they equated to only 0.5 percent.
- In September 2018, the average wait time for building plans review had risen to over 25 days due to staff shortages.
- Since the implementation of the City’s new online permitting portal, 13,883 permits have been issued. 370 permits were for commercial development, 471 were for residential development, and the remaining were for electrical, mechanical, plumbing, special event and other permits.
- Six types of permits can now be issued same day, without a visit to City Hall.
- A 2006 study by the American Institute of Architects and PricewaterhouseCoopers identified that the implementation of a more responsive permit process over a 5-year period could result in a 5.7 percent increase in construction spending.
- Tulsa developers have indicated that a delay of a week or more in building permits can cost small projects hundreds of dollars and large projects thousands of dollars in interest costs, lost tenant revenue, insurance, penalties, and other expenses.