Mayor Adler swears in Mayor Steve Adler hopes to reduce the permit backlog.[/caption]

The amount of pending city of Austin permits awaiting approval may be reduced in the near future.

Mayor Steve Adler spoke during a March 25 luncheon hosted by Real Estate Council of Austin about a resolution that would direct the city manager to develop a plan to eliminate the city's oft-noted backlog of development permits. Austin City Council will consider the proposal during its April 2 meeting.

“I think it’s just real important for the council to take a leadership position and help to set a really high priority with a need to fix the permitting process,” Adler said.

Should the resolution gain council approval, City Manager Marc Ott would have 30 days to bring back a plan to address the permit backlog.

“I don’t think the council needs to prescribe to the city manager how he needs to fix it,” Adler said. “It’s the council’s job to request and set the metrics so as to measure success.”

The plan will be measured for success after implementation to ensure the permit backlog is relieved, Adler said. The details of the proposed resolution were posted to the council message board at 3:43 p.m. March 25.

A separate review of the city’s Planning and Development Review Department resulted in the release of the Zucker Report, a 700-page document that outlined more than 400 recommendations for improving Austin's development review process. City staff by June 30 is expected to bring council back proposed solutions for resolving some of the broader issues identified in the report.

Separate from the Zucker Report or the Adler initiative to cut Austin's permit backlog, Ott announced March 13 that he intends to restructure the Planning and Development Review Department. The division will be separated into two departments. PDRD Director Greg Guernsey assumes lead duties for the new Planning and Zoning Department, and Rodney Gonzalez, former assistant director for economic development, will lead the Development Review Department.

The change was made to evenly distribute the workload and take a step toward improving the permitting process, according to a city release.

“Providing consistency and clarity in the planning and development process has been a critical area of focus for me, and for the team, over the past few years," Ott said in a statement. "It’s clear to me that—in order to effectively oversee the kind of transformation we need—the two functions need individual and separate attention.”