Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From the "this isn't good" news department: San Diego scraps its City Planning Department

From the Voice of San Diego:

To save $1 million a year, the mayor will fold the Planning Department into the Development Services Department, which, as its name suggests, helps developers get approvals for building permits. The new group will still be called the Development Services Department. Kelly Broughton, the department's director, will remain its leader and assume the effective role of planning director...

...The Planning Department goes to neighborhoods, meets with local groups and relies on residents to articulate a vision and draft rules for the community's growth. Development Services ensures developers follow those rules, but rarely interacts with community groups...

...The departments have often acted as checks on each other. Long-term planners caution against approving developments that don't conform to a community's vision, while development services planners "are about implementation," Anderson said. "They're sometimes skeptical of long-range planning because it can be a little lofty. But it's healthy to have a little of that tension."
Longtime planning advocates say they're concerned that merging the departments may remove those checks and balances.

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