Austin waives permit charges for winter storm home repairs

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Many Austin homeowners are working to fix property damage from the winter storms last week.

Making the process faster and helping homeowners get around the red tape is the goal of a new ordinance passed by Austin City Council Thursday. It temporarily waives permit charges for people making weather-related repairs to their homes. It also includes tree removal.

Austin Development Services said fees for plan review, inspection and demolition for damaged homes are also covered.

“We want to make the permitting process way more accelerated, where you may not have to pull a permit, or you can get through the repairs and tell us about it later,” said Council member Greg Casar of District 4.

The ordinance expires on March 31, but city staff said Thursday it could be extended next month based on the availability of plumbers and building materials. Right now, some homeowners said they’re on a weeks-long waiting list to get a professional at their door.

“The faster we get back in our home, the happier we will all be,” said Dara Mariles, who is currently staying at an AirBnb.

Mariles’ home in Great Hills was gutted by contractors after a pipe burst and flooded much of her home. She said for her and many others with damage from the winter storm, time is of the essence.

“It’s important to go fast, through permitting and anything else that needs to happen, so people can be back in their homes,” said Mariles, who hopes to be in hers in one month.

The City of Austin’s Development Services Department said as of Thursday afternoon, it had identified 33 permits specifically requested for storm-related emergency repairs. However, staff noted that is likely well short of the actual number.

DSD said it is making changes to its permit application process Thursday night and is asking people to explain their repair situations more clearly, as it relates to the winter storms that thrashed Texas.

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