Town creates committee to deal with building issues
In an effort to streamline the process of project approval and plan checks, the Truckee Town Council decided at a workshop on Sept. 15 to create a committee made up of town staff and local builders, developers, contractors and architects.
With the committee, representatives from the town, of the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe, the Tahoe Truckee Engineers Association and a few local architects will get together to figure out ways to help the process run smoother.
The workshop was created in response to Joe Burns, executive director of CATT, explaining to the Truckee Town Council last month that delays within the building department was causing serious monetary damage to many people.
In his statement to the town council, Burns said the building department was overworked, which resulted in delays for the builders. These delays result in a substantial monetary loss to the owner, developer, builder and ultimately the Truckee community.
“Hundreds of thousands of dollars are lost each year due to projects being postponed and/or cancelled, the additional costs of materials and labor, loan interest, potential tax roll changes, commercial rent and loss of gross income,” Burns wrote.
Because of the costs associated with the delays and with the delays themselves, Burns said at the town council that small builders or families performing remodels will simply go elsewhere to build, or not build at all.
One of the most talked-about ideas was to hire an additional plan inspector. Many of the approximately 60 people in attendance at the workshop said the building department could greatly benefit from an additional inspector.
“[An extra inspector] is something the committee will look at for sure,” said Tony Lashbrook, Truckee Community Development Director.
Another problem, according to Burns, is when building codes or building department policies change and the builders are not notified. A simple way to correct that, according to CATT Secretary/Treasurer Mitch Clarin, is to put up a board at Town Hall listing the changes. Or, he said, the town could put the changes up on the town Web site or e-mail them to the builders.
“Specific recommendations that came out of [the workshop] focused on how to eliminate the backlog of the Spring plan-check rush,” Lashbrook said. However, “It goes both ways – it’s not just what the town can do.”
Clarin said the committee could simply answer, “How do we streamline inspection?” He and others at the workshop explained that when inspectors require plan changes, it could delay projects up to a week each time the builder sends the plans back to the town.
Another idea Clarin brought up was requiring appointments for plan checks, instead of allowing several plans to come in at the same time.
“Definitely, [the committee] will accomplish something,” Clarin said. He said he wasn’t sure exactly what, but he said it should help the process. “You need some kind of oversight.”
Lashbrook said the committee, “will provide a way to get more in-depth” and to identify and work out the problems.
In addition, Clarin said, “Ultimately, [the committee will bring] a happier building department and a better relationship with the town and the building community.”
ON THE WEB:
Town of Truckee Building Department
Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe
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