If anyone should know how to navigate DCRA’s permitting bureaucracy, it’s Allen David. He worked for the agency for 31 years as a draftsman engineer, involved in various aspects of the permit review process.

These days, though, David does construction designs and drawings, and he also works as a builder’s agent to get the permits in place. Today, he’s trying to get a permit for a fence for a Georgetown client.

He got here, at 941 North Cap, at 10:30 this morning. At 2:15 p.m., he was still here, going down to the first-floor cashier to pay for his permit. He still wasn’t sure when he would be done.

Problem was, four different times, he was given numbers to wait to see an examiner—-all the waiting, he says, was because his number kept getting lost, and then he had to wait due to an examiner’s mistake. “Any time you come in here to do anything, they tell you to do another thing,” David says.

Things worked better in his day, David claims—-fewer computer systems to keep you waiting and occasionally malfunction. The idea used to be to quickly approve the simple jobs so focus could be directed to the “critical jobs”—-you know, simple jobs like a fence.

David has already been in permit hell for three months because the fence is located in Georgetown, thus requiring a historic review. And now there’s this, he says.

“What’s the point of me coming in at 8 for you to make a mistake and send me to the end of the line?” he asks. “The public can only take so much nonsense!”