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City Hall strategy for backlogged permits in Cape Coral

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Staff will focus on the backlogged permits to aid the growing frustration in Southwest Florida’s largest city closing the office every Friday starting next week.

While some are optimistic others fear another total pause in Cape Coral, like what happened in April. But, as of Friday, the city said that is not under consideration.

Lines are out the door before City Hall opens and permits are not slowing down. This is causing considerable frustration for homeowners and contractors.

More people moving to Cape Coral leads to more construction which leads to more permits. The city of Cape Coral is dealing with more than double the permits they saw last year.

As of Friday, more than 7,000 permits are in progress leaving people like Daniel Chinga waiting.

“We don’t have any time timeline of when you can really finish your house or your project,” said Chinga. Chinga moved from Boston to Cape Coral when his family fell in love with the area. Chinga and his family began building a home with a pool, but the permits have delayed finishing their dream home. Delayed, meaning they’ve been waiting up to three months for their pool, and are yet to even start digging.

“When we applied for the pool permit, we thought we’d be enjoying the pool by now but we have nothing,” said Chinga. “We haven’t even started digging or anything.”

Starting Aug. 19, people won’t be able to come to City Hall for permits. The desk will close every Friday in an effort to help city staff diminish what’s backlogged.

Melissa Mickey, the Cape Coral communications manager, shared thoughts with WINK News about how the backlog became problematic.

“A large amount of time is spent for staff taking away from being able to be at a desk and actively process those permits when they’re having to work the counter,” said Mickey.

Frustrated contractor, Paul Barnes, with The Hawaiian Contractor, knows that other contractors feel just like him.

“I hear around town there’s plenty of contractors that are so fed up they have to feed their families and they’re going ahead and putting doors and windows without a permit,” said  Barnes. “So not only are they doing what they’re not supposed to do. None of us are supposed to do a job without a permit when a permit is required. But they have to feed their families.”

To address some of the staffing issues city council approved adding 26 new positions. Although, it’s expected those employees won’t start until the end of the year. Even though the desk is closed on Fridays starting next week, people can still submit permits online.