Local businesses see benefits of self certification - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 11:00 am

City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has been working for years to cut red tape for small businesses in the city of Phoenix. Now some businesses say they are seeing the benefits.

DiCiccio chaired a committee at the end of 2009 to allow for self certification through the city. The process allows registered architects to certify a project's compliance with city codes and ordinances to get on with construction much faster. Through this program architects can be issued a permit within one to five days.

The program has been used by Naked Pizza to open up its shop in Ahwatukee Foothills and Vince Dalke, the architect helping with a construction process for the Arizona Animal Welfare League, said he's used it and will continue to self certify for other projects in the city.

"In this job it was a significant benefit," Dalke said. "The project had a donor that had donated a certain amount to the project and we had to have it significantly complete by a certain time. That self certification really helped us meet that deadline." Dalke estimates self certification moved the project along 45 days faster than if the city had had to certify the plans. He also used self certify to approve plans for a Goodwill on Baseline Road, and he estimates it probably took 60 days off that project.

"As you can imagine the value of that time, especially on a retail project like that, it definitely had a big impact on the owner being able to finish construction that much earlier," Dalke said.

Self certification is just one of the many improvements DiCiccio has in mind. He says what he's working on now in his committee, co-chaired by City Councilman Tom Simplot, would make Phoenix the best place to start a business.

"What we're working on now is the next step," DiCiccio said. "We want lightning speed for plans that have met the zoning requirements, met the public disclosures, held the public meetings, after they've done that then they can self certify. That would take anywhere from four to six months out of the process."

DiCiccio imagines businesses being able to do most of their planning online and open up in hours or days, rather than months.

"Just think of what it does for our economy," DiCiccio said. "Think of all the people you can help today rather than waiting four to six months. It gets people working again and out there feeling confident about the economy. Once you allow someone to get a job faster you move up the economic cycles tremendously. Within the first six to eight months of us getting this through you will see significant job growth. In 18 months we will lead the country in job creation. It will be that fast."

DiCiccio hopes to have the next improvements out by the end of March.

For more information on the Self Certification Program, visit phoenix.gov/development/scp.html.

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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