Illinois cities could significantly speed up new home, business construction

Illinois cities could significantly speed up new home, business construction

Illinois cities and villages could reduce from months to just days the time it takes to issue permits for new residential and commercial construction. Phoenix saw housing units increase 10% in a decade by cutting costly delays.

A new proposal promises to cut by months the lead time on construction of residential and commercial properties in Illinois by letting local architects and engineers handle cities’ permitting and review processes.

That’s what Phoenix, Arizona, did in 2012. The city allows registered architects or engineers with approved credentials and training to certify a construction project complies with municipal building codes, rather than relying on city inspections.

Phoenix’s building permit and plan review process times were reduced from months to less than 24 hours in many cases.

“Getting permits quickly to do construction and improvements saves time and money,” Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio said after the measure passed. “We also have greater predictability, so they will know when to lease, when they can build and when they should hire employees, for example.”

During the next decade, Phoenix became one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, with the population increasing by nearly 16% between 2012 and 2022. Phoenix’s housing supply also grew by 10% during the decade, outpacing comparable neighboring municipalities, with the self-certification process helping to add 60,473 new dwelling units to the city.

“Unpredictability not only costs them time, money and market share, it also discourages some would-be entrepreneurs from even starting,” DiCiccio said. “When you’re a small business trying to build your dream on savings and credit cards, months-long hold-ups can be devastating. We’ve ended that.”

Cities in Illinois could copy Phoenix and significantly reduce the burden of developing homes and businesses within their jurisdictions, especially Chicago.

A Harris Poll from December 2022 showed 78% of Chicagoans agreed the city lacks sufficient affordable housing. Three in 10 residents even considered the situation unstable. Chicagoans were pessimistic about the future, as 45% of respondents thought the situation would be worse in five years.

A 2020 report from the Chicago Department of Housing found the city has an “affordable housing gap” of “nearly 120,000 homes.”

A 24-hour self-certification ordinance would allow Illinois municipalities to produce more new housing and commercial spaces in less time, driving down overall housing costs and increasing opportunity for residents.

For more information on how your city can adopt a 24-hour self-certification ordinance to improve growth, contact Illinois Policy Institute Vice President of Government Affairs Jim Long.

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