Permitting

Revisit rules regularly

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Regulations created for a particular moment or purpose may become obsolete over time. Establishing a routine for auditing codes and processes will weed out unnecessary rules and make the regulatory regime more flexible.

Update codes and processes and weed out what is unnecessary

Instituting a standard protocol for regularly reviewing, revising, and, where appropriate, eliminating rules and regulatory processes can help reduce the compliance burden. This “regulatory hygiene” should prioritize the changes that will have the greatest impact on businesses.

Focus on goals, not rules

Regulatory reformers should identify outcomes that remain crucial even if the rules designed to ensure these outcomes have grown obsolete. Comparing older requirements against the realities of the present can shed light on which parts of the code should remain and which should be revised or removed.

Coordinate regulatory reform efforts with state & federal officials

When policy is set at the federal or state level (as is the case with some environmental laws, for example) city leaders should engage state and federal government in regulatory reform efforts. Greater coordination and alignment across the levels of government can reduce the burden of compliance for permit seekers at the city level.

Create a streamlined permit process for low-risk activities

A “one size fits all” approach hinders smaller actors that lack the capacity to meet the requirements demanded of much larger entities. A more equitable approach takes the risk level of the activity into account and adapts the permitting process accordingly, with more stringent requirements for high-risk ventures and a shorter, more streamlined process for lower-risk efforts. Regulators should also consider whether self-certification offers an effective alternative to existing permit requirements.