Influx of permit applications alters Kona office hours

  • Jaslyn Nathanial of the county Planning Department goes over plans with John Hetherington in 2018 at the West Hawaii Civic Center office. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

As part of an ongoing effort to address a backlog in the processing of applications and permits at the Planning Department’s West Hawaii office in Kailua-Kona, the department said Monday it will begin to limit service hours with the public on a temporary basis.

The front counter in Kona will be closed on Fridays for in-person consultations and inquiries from the public effective Aug. 23 and lasting until Dec. 20. The public is welcome to come in for in-person assistance from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday during this period.

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The Planning Department’s East Hawaii office in Hilo will continue to serve members of the public at the front counter during normal business hours 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The limiting of service hours with the public at the Kona office on Fridays is a temporary measure to better serve customers in the processing of permit applications, the department said in a news release.

During the last several months the department has experienced an unprecedented increase in permit applications, including the registration of short-term vacation rentals and building permit applications which the Planning Department reviews for land use. In response to this increase in demand, Planning Department staff in Kona are being assigned to prioritize the processing of applications on days when they are not directly assisting members of the public in-person.

“During this challenging time for our staff we appreciate the public’s kokua as we focus on completing our work and enabling our customers to move forward in their own efforts,” Planning Director Michael Yee said.

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This temporary change to service hours in Kona is one part of a broader effort to respond to the increase in demand on the department. Other measures taken include bringing on temporary employees to build the department’s capacity to assist the public, as well as sharing staffing resources and workloads across divisions within the department.

For questions, contact the department at 961-8288.

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