HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are increasing concerns over a city department already plagued with delays after the director of the planning department abruptly resigned. A city councilwoman said part of the problem is the delay in hiring qualified job applicants.
The City Council initiated an audit of the Department of Human Resources after a report said there were more than 3,000 city and county job openings. Councilmember Andria Tupola said Department of Planning and Permitting Director Dean Uchida had expressed his frustrations in filling the openings in his department.
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“He had shared with me that a lot of people are applying, he was getting their applications maybe five months after they applied. He felt that that turnaround time was making him unsuccessful to fill those positions, so definitely a lot of frustration,” said Tupola.
Uchida resigned on Tuesday after less than two years on the job. The mayor released a statement that said, “As in every difficult leadership challenge, those responsible for producing successful solutions must be aligned in thought and strategy. We are moving forward in a different direction to address and correct the decades-old challenges facing this department.”
Tupola said those who are waiting for their permits to get approved are now becoming even more frustrated with the changes taking place and wants the city to come up with a more immediate plan to ease the backlog.
“We would love to see better software that interfaces with each other, we would love to see more workers. But what about today? What are we gonna do about today when I’ve been working waiting for my permit for over a year?” she said.
She added that there are third-party reviewers who are volunteering to help expedite the permitting process.
“As a city we really have to say this is above and beyond what we can do with the current workers. How can we work with the industry to get this backlog cleared up?” said Tupola.
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The city said the Department of Human Resources has been working to speed up the process for hiring city workers. The mayor found it unacceptable that some positions can take up to six months to fill. So last month he directed department heads to cut that number in half and gave the team 90 days to do it.