Streamlining government, while a nice catchphrase that many people get attached to, can be a tricky thing.
While redundant rules and regulations — or in some cases, conflicting rules and regulations among different departments within one governmental entity — are a source of frustration, it can be easy to forget the rules were put in place for a reason.
So, the tricky part of streamlining is to cut through the red tape, as the centuries-old saying goes, without lowering quality or safety standards.
In League City during the past year, city officials studied the permitting process for developers.
In the past, developers’ site plans went to the planning department while building plans went in a separate process to the building department. Developers would have to wait for the site plan review before applying for the building permits, prolonging projects by weeks or even months.
Last week, the city council passed an amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow combining the plan submissions.
In the old procedure, city staffers at times would request changes in one set of plans that were not reflected in the other set of plans.
A single application packet now will include both the site development plan and commercial building plans, planning Director David Hoover said. Applicants can now submit site development plans and building permit paperwork at the same time.
The new procedure seems like a simple, common-sense approach.
What is noteworthy, too, is city officials took a year talking with developers and members of the city’s staff before making the decision to change the rules.
“This will assist the planning and zoning department in considering the project in whole,” said Steve Paterson, president of the League City Regional Chamber of Commerce. “This will help in managing growth going forward.”
Some might wonder why it took the city a year of talks before making what appears to be a common-sensical decision. We call it practicing due diligence.
The red tape was put there for a reason. Cutting through the red tape should be done for a reason.
• Dave Mathews