Our planning department: whom do they serve?
Original post made by observer on Aug 14, 2007
I don't know how other cities handle planning department funding, but seems to me that the collecting fee function needs to be as separate as possible from the planning function. Otherwise, there is a serious conflict of interest.
on Aug 16, 2007 at 7:02 am
What is the point of this blog entry? Instead of trying to start an effort to anonymously trash essential city services, why don't you write a coherent letter to the editor and sign your name?
on Aug 16, 2007 at 9:49 am
How does the post "trash city services?" It asks what people think about the current system.
I observed last Monday's Planning Commission meeting in which a developer's project was shepherded by a member of the planning staff and approved by the commissioners, who for the most part overlooked the objections of dozens of neighbors. The commissioners instead congratulated the developer on working so harmoniously with the staff.
The project in question was a single home, so overall the approval will not have a major impact on the city. But this is a pattern that has been repeated for years, as the planning staff bends over to take care of the folks with cash to the detriment of the true (but less visible) clients, the residents. The result: debacles like Derry.
I suppose no one else cares? This isn't an exciting or colorful issue, like the Park Theater or cupcake recipes.
on Aug 16, 2007 at 10:35 am
Count me among those who finds this issue more interesting (and thought-provoking) than cupcake recipes. Problem is, I can't come up with a viable alternative to the system already in place.
Over the years, City Hall -- probably in most cities -- has gone in the direction of being run much more like big business than a service organization. My understanding is that all costs to the planning department to review and process development applications are supposed to be recovered through the fees charged to the developers. As observer points out, that system may have some inherent flaws. But the alternative? The only one I can think of is that the planning department's budget would have to be dramatically increased to cover staff costs, and somehow I don't think that's going to happen in this economic climate.
I'd love to hear other people's ideas on how to address the conflict-of-interest dangers that observer points to.