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More Changes for the City’s Building Department

In an ongoing effort to improve the “Open for Business” attitude of the city’s entire building department, Mayor DiTullio and several members of Council have been working on developing the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) so residents and businesses can do work in the City of Wheat Ridge.  Many positive changes were made to the city’s building codes and policies last year by Council and were recommendations from the Mayor’s Building Code Task Force.  Below are excerpts from the Council Study Session minutes of 2/14/2011.

 Mr. Stites opened discussion on concerns for numerous practices in the City’s Building Department, including the issuance of electrical work permits and fees to homeowners, the releasing of cell phone numbers of building inspectors to the public, policies on city staff responses to citizens and building contractors.

 The majority of Council supported a direction for Staff to discontinue the policy of blocking cell phone numbers of City building inspectors in an effort to enhance customer service and communications with customers.

 Council was unanimous in directing staff to remove requirements of homeowners to be licensed electricians to be issued permits for doing electrical work on their own homes.

 The majority of Council supported directing Staff to discontinue any policy allowing staff members to contact employers of residents unless there is an official legal need to do so.  If the employee feels the need to make phone calls or write letters to customers they need to go through their chain of command to their Department Director or City Manager.

Mr. Goff reported other changes in building permit and inspection practices in order to improve customer service in several ways including when interpreting the building code the Chief Building Official will use the least conservative approach. Staff is trying to be more proactive in finding areas where the City can be less restrictive. Building Department staff will attend training in communication, customer service skills, and dealing with disgruntled customers. Staff plans on bringing to future Study Sessions possible recommendations for changes to building codes on existing buildings again exploring the least restrictive environment. Staff is also exploring how to change the process of how they inform all customers of what the appeal process is and their rights associated with this.

 Mayor Jerry DiTullio