HILO, Hawaii (KITV4) — During his state of the county address Thursday, Hawai’i Island Mayor Mitch Roth reflected on some of what he deemed the county’s most notable achievements.
Roth noted he and other county officials tripled the number of buses in the island’s mass transit fleet, generated more than $125 million for COVID testing and vaccinations, and launched more affordable housing projects.
“When we came in, there was a little over 1,000 houses in the pipeline for affordable housing, now we have over 5,000,” Roth added.
The Hawai’i County mayor admitted there has been a “tremendous amount of frustration” towards the county’s online building permit system.
The Electronic Processing and Information Center was inherited from the previous administration and launched in July.
“Whenever you launch a new computer system, there’s a learning curve, and we’ve been going through that learning curve, but as we see, we’re getting a lot more permits through the system now than we have in the past,” Roth explained.
Over the past two years, the county issued an average of a little less than 300 permits a month. During the first two months of this year, the county averaged more than 500 permits a month.
“We are nowhere near where we want to be, but we’re getting a lot better,” Roth said.
Between August and January, the average wait time for a residential building permit was 133 days.
After streamlining the process, Roth expects the wait time could be reduced to about 6 weeks by the end of the year.