Governor announces changes to hasten permits, denies it is JGo
By The Star Staff
Governor Pedro Pierluisi on Wednesday announced changes in the Permit Management Office (OGPe) to hasten the permitting process but denied he was doing it because of criticisms levied by Washington Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez, his challenger in the New Progressive Party primary.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with the commissioner. In my case, I don’t need a messenger or a third party. I directly communicate with the industry, and we always deal with the industry’s complaints. The demand for (haste of) permits has been going on for decades. This is not new; we have been talking about permits and delays in construction permits for decades. What happens is that I am very punctual, speak with knowledge of the facts, and say exactly where there may be bureaucratic challenges and we are addressing them. I have someone 24/7 in La Fortaleza following up on pending endorsements, basically an official in La Fortaleza with access to the database to follow up on these things,” he said in an aside with reporters after speaking at Contractors Association Forum.
He announced three changes that seek to hasten permitting.
First, he announced that the Department of Natural Resources and the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture have just signed collaboration agreements with the Permit Management Office to assign personnel to the permitting agency. The staff will have decisional authority to approve pending requests for construction permits.
“We do it to expedite these matters because we are always monitoring the area of permits. Where we see delays, delays are precisely mainly in those two areas,” Pierluisi said.
He also announced that he will seek external resources to hasten permits at the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, which recently launched a project tender.
He also announced he would enforce a 2014 law creating the position of State Surveyor attached to the Office of Management and Permits. The selected person will be in charge of doing land surveys establishing boundaries, among other tasks that are currently distributed or spread among several agencies.
While the position was created in 2014, the law was never implemented. He said he would be sending a candidate to the Senate.
On the other hand, he blasted the Senate for failing to approve legislation that would increase incentives for affordable housing development.