For the latest in his series of creative press conferences on the campaign trail, mayoral candidate Cam Winton rented a tortoise and two rabbits for a media briefing earlier today to share his pitch for overhauling the city’s regulatory process.
Standing outside the city’s Public Service Center — the hub for applying for permits and licenses — Winton relied on his animal props to illustrate a metaphor that as mayor he would speed up the permitting process from the pace of a tortoise to that of a hare.
“It’s by getting City Hall out of the way of the private sector that we can achieve our worthy goals of more jobs and more affordable housing,” he said.
Winton, a wind power attorney running as an independent, said too often people hear conflicting answers from people in the city when applying for licenses and permits.
He said while the city has made inroads in speeding up the process in recent year, it’s still too slow. If he was elected, he would reduce the number of licenses the city requires from 160 to about 10 that he views as essential, including ones for preparing/serving food, dealing with hazardous materials, fireworks, operating a funeral home, serving alcohol, selling tobacco, operating a tattoo parlor, operating a target shooting range and running charitable gambling.
Winton said the city shouldn’t require licenses for things like selling Christmas trees, operating a bowling alley or providing a jukebox. He brought along a cardboard jukebox, too, to illustrate that point.
He would also eliminate building permits for many types of projects and put the permit application process online and on the phone instead of having people come downtown to the Public Service Center. Instead of focusing city resources on the front end of the process, he instead advocates random inspections of people who have applied for permits for projects in the city.
Winton said he believes the changes to the permitting process would make it easier for developers to pursue affordable housing developments in the city. Permits would still be required for large development projects under Winton’s plan.
Mayoral candidate Mark Andrew has also criticized the city’s regulatory process on the campaign trail. At a news conference at the State Fair in August he said he’d carry out a review of small business regulations if elected and would work to repeal archaic or unnecessary ones.