Initiatives proposed to streamline the permitting process on Guam

Acting Governor Joshua Tenorio (PNC file photo)

The Permitting Task Force held a meeting Thursday, with various agencies presenting their plans on how to improve and streamline the permitting process on island.

Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio said this is just the first of a series of public meetings to address the backlog in permitting that is causing a delay in some of the administration’s economic recovery and expansion projects.

“There have been staffing issues in certain areas but there also appears to be perhaps some issues in policy and interpretation that we would like to probably get into next,” Tenorio said.

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Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, who also attended the meeting, thanked the task force for working on the streamlining of the permitting process, pointing out that construction and building are among the major economic drivers of the island’s economy.

“Certainly, our administration is very favorable to development, but you know, we also want to make sure it is very conscientious in protecting our environment and complying with laws, rules, and regulations, but we’re very supportive of development, and we want to move development as fast as we can,” Leon Guerrero said.

Former governor Carl Gutierrez, the permitting “czar,” said there are a lot of projects that are “gunked up” right now due to delays in the permitting process.

Gutierrez recommended that one single standard “edict” be followed to prevent any one person from screwing up and delaying the permitting process.

Department of Revenue and Taxation director Dafne Shimizu then made a presentation of her department’s initiatives in improving the permitting process.

Among Shimizu’s proposals are establishing a unique application identification number to be used by all review agencies and considering one application fee at application submission that is disbursed to review agencies.

She also wants to establish a standardized administrative appeals process for permit license/denial.

For the long term, Shimizu proposes to make all permitting applications available online, using just one unified service platform with recurrent maintenance, upgrading, and licensing funded by application fees.

For his part, Department of Public Works director Vince Arriola is proposing an electronic building permit application process, simultaneous agency review, and an online plan check review by all the relevant GovGuam agencies.

“It is our desire to implement an online building permit application process by the end of this year. We understand this process will take anywhere from 12 to 18 months for full transition and operation,” Arriola said.