Are there states or localities where your company won't do business due to onerous requirements to meet code or get a permit?

John G. Swanson
July 18, 2007
THE TALK...
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Survey Results for 07/18/2007:

Are there states or localities where your company won't do business due to onerous requirements to meet code or get a permit?

There are major challenges in some places, but we don't avoid those markets.

 

 

43%

 

We don't have any real problems on this front.

 

 

30%

 

Yes, it's a common problem and we avoid a number of places.

 

 

21%

 

It's not a big problem; there are one or two places we avoid.

 

 

6%

 

Complaints about “too much red tape” are not uncommon, but apparently, things aren’t that bad out there. Asked whether their companies avoid certain states or localities because of onerous permitting or code requirements, more than 70 percent of respondents to last week’s poll indicated they don’t. Sure, 40 percent said they see major challenges out there, but the bureaucratic hoops aren’t so bad any place that they’ll stay away completely.

I decided to ask the question, based on a short report I saw on the Web site of the Post Tribune in Gary, Ind. In the article, George Putz, president of Lazzaro Cos. Inc., said his door business wouldn’t do installations in Gary because it’s far too time-consuming to get permits in that city.

In most cities, he applies for permits via mail or phone. In Gary, Putz told the newspaper, he’s required to go to the office himself, or to send one of his two partners. Shuffling from office to office, he said it’s often taken him two hours to get a permit.

To get a permit to install a door in Gary, one starts in the building office where insurance is checked out, then it’s on to the zoning office for clearance, then it’s back to the building office to fill out more paperwork. Finally, permit seekers must go downstairs to the financing office, according to the article. Gary Building Commissioner Benjamin Robinson, however, told the Post Tribune it doesn’t take two hours, claiming instead that it should take less than 15 minutes.

Putz isn’t pushing for any change in Gary, but just decided it wasn’t worth the effort to do jobs there. “I have no time to do that. No other community makes us do that,” Putz said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Our poll results show the Lazarro Cos. aren’t alone in making that kind of decision. More than 20 percent of our respondents described such bureaucracy as a common problem that made them avoid a number of places. And another small group said there are one or two places they won’t go.