Jesse Hager, a local architect, wrote to Mayor Turner to compliment Houston Permitting Center employees – Earl Greer, Bobby Oakes and Luis Villansana and Melanie Chow. Hager’s project, a retail space was near completion and facing an opening day deadline, when Hager noticed an inconsistency in the approved permitting plans. When contractors were content to blame the city for a failed inspection, Oakes and numerous other Permitting Center employees assisted Hager through the plan revisions.
“Shortly after the contractor confirmed the opening date for the store on a Wednesday and the client booked travel from New York City to receive the keys and be present for the first few days of the store opening. Predictably the contractor was behind in delivering the space and in a rush to finalize items. Then came the field inspection for the item in question. The field inspector failed us and the contractor chalked it up to “typical City of Houston” remarks, essentially throwing up his hands. The client was furious, anticipating that the flight had been for naught and that newly hired employees would have no store to open,” Hager wrote.
“I immediately called Mr. Oakes who, not at his desk at the time, promptly called me back. We had the engineering drawings revised to reflect our previously agreed upon resolution and he assisted me to set up a time to walk the drawings through the Permitting Center with plan reviewer Melanie Chow. We paid the revision fees and were confident we would pass on the next visit from the inspector. However, while going through this process I received yet another call that the inspector had already returned to the site and that he failed the store’s condition again. By this time the corrected drawings had been approved so after another quick discussion with Mr. Oakes he called the inspector directly and updated the project in the system to pass.
“The store was delivered barely on time and I looked like a hero, only due to the responsiveness and follow-through of those that assisted me that and previous days, especially Mr. Oakes. This recounts a small incident, impacting a small retail space. However, I’m hopeful this type of attitude and attention carries through to all projects and that this reflects a rumored new focus on improving service within the Permitting Center. Regardless, I’m deeply appreciative of Mr. Oakes for the responsiveness over those days; I hope this letter at least serves to convey my gratitude.”