HomeTop StoriesKC disruption affecting businesses, construction work and events continues. Here's a...

KC disruption affecting businesses, construction work and events continues. Here’s a new solution

Monday marks the start of the third week of business since many of Kansas City’s online services were shut down on May 4. While some city services have been restored, the permit database, CompassKC, remains offline.

This ongoing outage affects everyone from event planners to general contractors and local business owners, all of whom rely on the city’s database to obtain permits and licenses.

City permits are required for building and health inspections at restaurants, noise and street closure permits for outdoor festivals and more. When functional, CompassKC accepts permit applications for block parties, dumpster placement, residential parking, parades and many other uses.

The city announced Tuesday that it has implemented a paper application system for a handful of permit types, which can be applied for in person at City Hall on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The city’s planning and development department is located on the 15th floor of City Hall at 414 E. 12th St.

They include basic plumbing, electrical, remodeling, HVAC and demolition permits, as well as a fast metal stud and fire sprinkler installation.

“No business pre-opening should be delayed because of our network issues,” Assistant City Manager Melissa Kozakiewicz told The Star.

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But some residents are still facing problems. A restaurant owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with the city, told The Star on Monday that he cannot schedule the inspections needed to open his business without documents from CompassKC.

“I’d be open right now if I could get this stuff out of town,” he said.

Here’s a closer look at how the breakdown of the permit system will impact businesses and workers in Kansas City.

How will the CompassKC outage impact Kansas Citians?

The restaurateur who spoke to The Star has already passed his latest city building inspection, which checks to make sure supplies such as electrical wiring, plumbing and HVAC are in good working order.

But without his inspection report or an occupancy certificate from the city’s online permitting system, he can’t schedule the health and fire safety inspections needed to open his restaurant.

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“Even if I had that paperwork, I don’t know if I would be able to schedule the health inspection,” he said. “Every time I call there, they say they don’t do anything because they don’t have access to their environmental and public health computers either.”

Kozakiewicz said the health department is now conducting inspections using paper forms, while the online system remains out of service.

“In terms of allowing new businesses and conducting pre-opening inspections, we conduct them on paper,” she told The Star.

The restaurateur is now trying to convince the city to accept the inspector’s handwritten notes as proof that he has passed the building inspection and is eligible to plan the final steps to open his business.

Contractors working on homes and construction sites in Kansas City are also feeling the impact of CompassKC’s outage, although one person told The Star it has not had a significant impact on his day-to-day work.

“The outage is annoying,” said Joe, a manager at Buckner’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing of Kansas City, who chose to share only his first name with The Star. “Our new construction has been delayed as a result. … It’s a handful of jobs we’re working on, but nothing major.”

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He added that he was not aware of the permit bypass system.

How can Kansas Citians access permits while CompassKC is unavailable?

The city said Tuesday it would accept paper permit applications for those who come to City Hall in person. Customers can come in between 8:30 AM and 3:00 PM to apply for the following permits:

  • Electrical permits for upgrades, repairs and reconnections of systems under 400 amps, as well as installations of home security systems

  • Plumbing permits for testing, reconnection, gas line repair, and water heater replacement

  • Mechanical permits for HVAC work, such as furnace and air conditioner replacements and duct repairs

  • Demolition permits

  • Building permits only for residential, non-structural interior renovations

  • Tenant finishing permits, which cover the interior renovation of an already constructed space for the needs of a particular tenant

  • Fast metal stud and sprinkler installation

According to the city’s website, all other types of permits are handled on a case-by-case basis. Anyone seeking these permits can call 816-513-1541 or email codequestions@kcmo.org.

Have more questions about navigating the city’s temporary paper permit system? Ask the Service Journalism team kcq@kcstar.com.

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