Growing complaints that delays by the Department of Water and Power are exacerbating backlogs in an already swamped building industry have prompted the panel overseeing the utility to call for a special hearing Tuesday. While there have long been complaints about the pace of work by DWP – which reviews designs and drawings and approves components like electrical and water connections – the problems have been aggravated by the construction boom in Southern California. “There’s just an incredible amount of work out there that all of the city agencies are trying to keep up with,” said Jeff Lee, president of Marina del Rey-based Lee Homes. Zacharias Vorgias of Pasadena-based Vorgias Engineering pointed to one of his projects, a private school in Woodland Hills, where he said it took the DWP six months to approve a relatively simple – but crucial aspect – of the plan. The new panel of Water and Power Commissioners appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has pushed aggressively for financial transparency in the organization, which was plagued in the recent past by a scandal involving a public relations contract. On the building review side, DWP Chief Administrative Officer Robert Rozanski said he met recently with the city’s Development Industry Advisory Cabinet. “We’re taking a look at all of that to see how we can best address any issues that may come up,” he said. “So we are looking forward to hearing input from the building industry in general.” Lee, who chairs a committee on the DWP for the advisory panel, said his group is considering changes like getting the utility more involved in early-stage planning meetings and having it compare its practices to nearby private utilities. Rozanski said DWP reviews must consider how the load being generated by new projects will affect the overall electric network – a time-consuming process exacerbated by the current development climate. “We probably haven’t seen a boom like this since the ’80s,” Rozanski said. Dan Laidman, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] IF YOU GO: The Board of Water and Power Commissioners will meet at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at 111 N. Hope St., Room 1555-H. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals “I can’t wait six months,” he said. “It complicates things for everybody.” DWP Commissioner Nick Patsaouras – an electrical engineer with experience dealing with the utility on building projects – called the hearing for industry representatives to share their experiences and offer suggestions to the department. Patsaouras said he also plans to make DWP’s overall spending priorities part of the discussion – including the amount of money the utility spends on public relations and lobbyists compared with what it spends on personnel to handle building projects. Patsaouras has called for trimming discretionary spending, singling out expenditures for lobbyists, public relations and sponsorships. DWP General Manager Ron Deaton has said he considers lobbyists to be an essential expense because they advance the DWP’s interests in Sacramento and Washington, where the utility faces complex regulatory issues.