Community Development Planning Organizational Review
|Meeting Date:||April 3, 2007||Primary Staff Contact:||David Stalheim|
|Approval:||Martha Bennett||Estimate Time:||60 minutes|
This is a presentation and discussion with the council detailing the new Community Development Director's initial observations of the city's planning program gained over the first three months. Some of these observations are outlined below and will be further detailed in the presentation.
|Staff Recommendation: |
The staff recommendations are generally outlined in the background information below. No formal action is requested of the council. The council is asked to provide any comments or feedback on the Director's observations.
During the first month, the Director talked with planning staff, Planning Commission members, city administration, some citizens and city councilors, to listen to their issues and concerns about the planning functions in Ashland. These conversations occurred after the Director reviewed the Organizational Audit of the department prepared by Zucker and the amendments to the Land Use Code prepared by Siegel.
In early February, the Director presented initial observations to the Planning Commission on planning. Those initial observations included the following key recommendations:
The Planning Commission generally concurred with these key recommendations. As a result, the Director has already initiated the following:
The recommendations were based on oral interviews and review of the record. In reviewing some of the city's long range planning efforts, it became apparent that in recent years that the city has not either initiated many long range planning efforts or adopted the ones that were started. Reasons for that were not fully explored, but the work load in development permit application reviews was the most readily apparent cause.
Long range planning efforts of the city since 1980 are outlined below:
As mentioned earlier, the most obvious observation in the recent past is that the planning program is focused on the review of development projects. This focus is at both the Planning Commission and City Council level. Since 2000, the only long range planning policy document that has been adopted by the city is the HUD required Consolidated Plan. This plan is required in order to receive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
The result of this focus on development projects and not on long range policy issues is that the public views the current dialogue as dysfunctional. The only planning that is seen through the local media has to do with development projects, and not on what the vision for the community should be. This has resulted in a disconnection between the Comprehensive Plan goals and policies and the current development and implementing ordinances. An example of this is the conversation about setbacks along arterials. The conversation appears to be about the "rules", rather than on what really should happen in these corridors. And, it takes staff, Commission and citizen time to have the conversation about what these standards should be.
The focus needs to be shifted from process to the big picture. We need to get away from the procedural and technical questions to questions about what the community wants to see. In order to get there, we need to make a shift in how we deal with both the long range planning policies and with the current review of development projects.
In order to have the time for these policy discussions, visioning, planning and ordinance development, we need to either: a) reduce the number of items before the Planning Commission to enable the Commission to undertake long range planning, or b) we need to become much more efficient in our deliberations and decision-making at the Planning Commission, or c) a combination of the above.
In the Zucker organizational audit, Zucker focused on six priorities for the department:
|Related City Policies:|
The council is asked to provide any comments or feedback on the Director's observations.