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Mayor Walsh Unveils New Online Permit Tools

December 23, 2014

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Following through on his commitment in the Chamber of Commerce speech, Mayor Martin J. Walsh has unveiled a new online permit tracking tool, and has launched online applications for a number of Boston Fire Department permits and licenses. These are the latest in a series of steps that Mayor Walsh has taken to streamline the permitting process.

“Since we’ve concentrated our efforts in this area, the City has gotten through a huge backlog of complaints and significantly increased the number of permits we’ve reviewed and processed,” said Mayor Walsh. “This is about making the process more clear and easy, and letting applicants and the public see where we stand on our performance goals around permit review. We’ve brought a lot online, and we’ll have another large round of permits later this Spring available online as well.”

Permit Finder is a new online tool which will allow residents, contractors and the general public to check the status of permits though the approval process. The application provides information on future steps in the approval process, City staff responsible for portions of the process, and timelines for each step in the process through a simple search interface. Users can track both Inspection Services Department (ISD) and Fire Department permits. The tool will also display all open reviews at any point in the review process. The tool was built off a prototype developed at the City's HubHacks civic hackathon in August. Over the past four months, the City has worked to complete its development. The permit tracker can be found online: http://permits.boston.gov.

In addition, the City has made some of the most common Fire Department permits and licenses available online. Applicants will now be able to apply for five permit applications, such as those for fire alarm installation, as well as two licenses from home, saving time spent traveling to Fire Prevention Headquarters at 1010 Massachusetts Avenue. With the addition of these Fire permits, the City now has 19 permits available online total. The Fire Department permits can be found online: www.cityofboston.gov/permits

“We’re excited to make these permits available to our customers,” said Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn.  “This is an important step towards modernizing our Department and making our services more accessible.”

The City of Boston issues 60 different types of permits, totaling approximately 86,000 permits annually. The announcement to overhaul the licensing and permitting system is one in a series of efforts that the Walsh Administration has made to streamline and improve licensing and permitting operations across City government. In recent months, Mayor Walsh:

Following Mayor Walsh’s efforts:

  • On-time permit issuance has increased to 75%, up from 56% in March 2014.
  • ISD issued 12,500 more permits in 2014 than in 2013, an increase of 21%.
  • Long-form permits are reviewed and issued within an average of 23 days, down from 28 days in March 2014. 
  • Appeal dates are now scheduled within an average of two months, down from five months prior to the launch of these streamlined efforts.
  • This past spring, the City had a backlog of approximately 3,500 open building complaints. Today, there are only 289 open complaints.