A new bill by Speaker of the House Ben Toma, R-Peoria, would streamline the permitting process for new construction, hopefully helping the state meet the huge demand for housing.
HB 2536 expedites the permit process by allowing town or city administrators in certain cases to review and approve plans without public hearings. Toma has also proposed allowing architects and engineers to certify building plans on their own. The bill would also reward safe and compliant building practices by giving companies with a history of compliance access to an expedited permit review process.
Tom Belshe, the executive director of the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, said in a House Government Committee meeting earlier this month that his organization supported the bil.
“We appreciate working with the Speaker and President Petersen on this language,” he said. “We agree that giving this ability to cities and towns will be helpful in taking some of the lengthy processes that exist right now.”
Belshe specifically highlighted how doing away with unnecessary public hearings and empowering city administrators to complete those tasks will help local governments expedite the permitting process.
Toma says that the bill does not remove necessary transparency because cities must meet multiple criteria before being eligible to skip public hearings.
According to Toma, the legislation is a step in the right direction for addressing Arizona’s growing housing shortage and rising cost of living. The Arizona Department of Housing recently estimated that the state is facing a shortage of more than 250,000 housing units. The bill would provide much needed support for developers as they attempt to meet the ever-growing demand for housing.
The lack of affordable housing in Arizona has become one of the hottest topics in the state, with both parties agreeing on the issue’s importance but disagreeing on how to solve the issue.
Between 2011 and 2021, the average price of a home rose by an incredible 260%, threatening economic growth by pricing out locals and turning away families interested in moving to the state.