COVID-19 Response: Updates on Permit Office Closures and Inspection Suspensions

  • Due to COVID-19 concerns, many jurisdictions are altering office hours, closing permit counters, and even suspending inspections per guidance by the TPCHD. The situation is very fluid and each jurisdiction/service provider has been responding differently. Master Builders Association of Pierce County understands that these temporary closures and suspensions have MAJOR implications on the work our members do, so we’ve created this platform as a means to share updates on the statuses of jurisdictions and service providers.

Please check this link daily for possible updates and also note that, if some jurisdictions have closed their physical permit counter, that many still have options to apply for permits online.

Master Builders Association of Pierce County will have updates on current jurisdictional permit timelines, staffing concerns, and more on June 5th during our quarterly Development Officials Forum. We will be sure to update this blog with new information early that morning. In the meantime, please feel free to view Lakewood’s Construction Inspection Updates provided by the City to the MBA here.

Updated Information from the June 5, 2020 Development Officials Forum:

Development Officials Forum Recap – June 5, 2020

Pierce County

  • Permitting activity:
    • April saw a small dip in permit applications
    • Tracking inspection workload – 3500 inspections since then, still busy – next day for many
      • 11am to midnight scheduling for next day; great efficiencies
  • Staffing:
    • Not looking at layoffs
  • Efficiencies gained:
    • Staff gaining time by not needing to report into the office and doing e-inspections for occupied homes and other inspections
    • Plan review numbers great with staff working remotely
  • Helpful Legislation
    • Not expiring permits; adding additional time onto these deadlines – working with the builders on case by case basis


  • Permitting activity:
    • Slight drop in inspections during initial shut down, ramping up
    • Commercial/multifamily work is down; preparing for a reduction in typical permits across the board
  • Staffing:
    • Meeting level of service while working from home with site and building department
      • There are openings, but department is not hiring at this time
    • Land use timelines: furloughs with staff (long range, regular planners, critical areas, etc.)
      • Expect delays
  • Efficiencies gained:
    • Acela accommodates with remote work
    • Making up for walk in services through Zoom; anticipating “new normal” walk in procedures in August
    • Efficiencies gained in working from home
    • Doing more photo inspections
  • Helpful legislation:
    • Permits were extended to the end of June, another extension to November 1

Bonney Lake

  • Permitting activity:
    • Reviewing and billing timelines are turning around faster
    • Numbers haven’t really dipped re: submittals
      • Single Family applications are up 36%
      • Multifamily and commercial are staying strong
    • Timelines are similar to what they were
  • Staffing:
    • No discussion of layoffs or furloughs; discussing getting additional staffing
    • Team is still going out into the field and doing inspections
  • Helpful legislation
    • Offering extensions on applications and permits


  • Permitting Activity:
    • Up 40% on permit activity from 2019
    • Next day service with inspections now
  • Staffing:
    • Hiring more staff during this time
  • Efficiencies Gained:
    • From paper to paperless submittals in 6 months
      • Staff is learning new processes


  • Permitting Activity
    • processing goal of first permit review within approx. 4 weeks of submittal; meeting this goal on average
    • with the permitting system changeover, these target timelines are to be improved
  • Staffing Concerns
    • so far on the year. the City has maintained permit review/inspection staffing levels
    • City has added a new Permit Center/Customer Service Supervisor
  • Efficiencies Gained 
    • City made a transition to a virtual Permit Center operation and began accepting all permit submittals electronically
    • adjusted to handling all of their customer information functions and related proceedings virtually
  • Helpful Jurisdictional Legislation  
    • ​staff is implementing temporary permit extensions and fee deferral programs
    • now instituting a 90-day “free sign permit” (i.e. permit fee waiver) program to help the business community

Update from the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department:

We are now processing, reviewing and inspecting all On-Site Sewage, Well Permitting and Drinking Water applications. We are prioritizing applications for:

– Septic system repair
– Record drawings
– Report of System Status
– Plats
– Active building permits

You might experience slower response times as many of our staff are still activated for the COVID-19 response. We are working through a large backlog of applications that were on hold before the Governor announced the restart of low risk construction April 24.

If you have been contacted by a jurisdiction or service provider that their services have been limited and this list does not reflect those changes, please contact Jessie Gamble at or 253.254.0083 immediately so that we can make necessary updates. Thank you for your cooperation.

BIAW – Plan, Prepare and Respond to COVID-19