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sbchWorking with the city planning & permits department can be an intimidating venture. I started my first construction project in quite possibly the most difficult city to get plans & permits approved in…..Santa Barbara, California. From there I ventured into almost every city within incorporated Los Angeles to meet each unappreciated city planner accordingly. Most departments took 4-6 weeks to get plans approved and permits issued, some much longer. To get answers over the phone was near impossible and the fees that you paid for the services rendered where always a huge expense. Coming from this environment to Kansas City, Missouri to continue developing I was informed by long time locals that you simply “don’t want to deal with the city here” (in reference to obtaining permits) and feared my impending need for their assistance.

Figuring my first encounter was out of the ordinary business the city deals with, I drove the 10 minutes downtown to wait in the assumed long lines and uncomfortable seating I was accustomed to. I arrived looking for the obligatory “take a number” machine where I always seem to accidentally take two numbers of and could not find one. With only one other patron in waiting I figured I was in the wrong place. The attendant assured me I was in the right place virtually seconds within me walking to her cubicle. This is all foreign territory for me now. Not only are there no lines, no numbers, but the attending secretary did not continue a personal call for five minutes pretending I wasn’t there while filing nails or playing solitaire. A smile erupted.

I was met within two minutes (tops) by the right person to talk to. They dealt with my permitting issue all in one sitting (another first for me) and I left with exactly what I needed. You read me right, not 4-6 weeks later, 10 minutes later. The fees were nothing compared to what I was used to and there are not nearly as many inspections required (oh and those are scheduled 24 hours in advance here, not 2 weeks). I was laughing when I left the not-so-secure security check point that go around.

The nature of my business (real estate acquisitions, development & management) makes it important to have a good working relationship with the rule makers that govern your trade. My last interaction is one for the books as far as I am concerned and as the previous recounting merits some web space, it does not come close to the creditworthiness of this next short bit.

In the middle of a transaction some setback issues arose and the right person to call to confirm said setbacks would be the city zoning department. My first call was met by the lowet person on their totem pole as far as I can tell. She not only spent ample time with me on the phone she called me back to follow up within an hour. I was directed to another department that gave me the same time consuming attention and I finally talked through my final issue with the highest ranking officially there to get the complete city tour of their 061407departments. All this was accomplished over the phone and within 3-4 hours. Amazing.

For those naysayers and Doug and Wendy Whiners about the city of Kansas City underpaid planning & development departments I say you have no idea what you are talking about. It was the best experiences I have had with any city thus far. The service was incredible and personnel very professional. I am the first to admit I think most city employees are one of ten workers spend hours staring down a hole in the ground while one poor schlep actually works (see photo). This was not the case inside the offices (my opinion of the city employees outside of those offices is yet to be swayed otherwise) and I give them my highest accommodations and thanks.