Of course, it would have benefited members of City Council to actually look into this themselves, but instead someone looked into it for them, and now we have this report.
What does it say?
Recommendation #1: Hire a new person. Not fire anyone. Not give deadlines where if no action is taken on something it's automatically approved. Hire a new person.
They say this is necessary to essentially "change the culture" within the department.
The department already has a head. Should this kind of responsibility not go to the department head?
Additionally, from what I've heard, the city planning and code enforcement staff are real ballbusters, especially downtown. Of course, the people who create this kind of atmosphere are never addressed. The "solution" is to simply add another layer of bureaucracy that could be just as hostile as what's already there.
What about how quickly the city approves projects?
"There is certainly an issue with timeliness and timeliness is a two way street," Michelle Ferguson, associate of The Novak Consulting Group, said during a presentation of the findings to council at an agenda briefing Monday. Some of the lag has to do with insufficient submittal of site plans, the study found.
Mayor Bill Saffo said several projects are taking six to eight months to get through the review process.Ahhh, you have to love the understatement of Bill Saffo, especially when it benefits him. Does it really take just six to eight months?
Let's take a look at part of an article that describes how long it took for The View to get approval downtown. For those of you who don't know, The View would have been where we now have our "wall of keys", the city's most appalling eyesore.
A lot has changed since 2006 when architects started drawing plans for The View. Terry Espy, managing partner and project developer, said it took three years to get the needed permits. The land, which has all the needed permits and has been released for construction from the city, now sits vacant as the economic tornado hit that project too.Three years, folks. That's a lot more than six months, which is still too much. With some projects, like the Gateway project, they simply stifle it for years until the developers go bankrupt.
Additionally, what Saffo is saying is that he knows about this but he's doing nothing. He's presenting himself as if he's helpless, when in reality he could actually be the most important figure in city government (no offense, Sterling.)
Finally, at the end of the story, we get actual figures about how terrible our city is in terms of facilitating development:
In the study, which included a survey of more than 57 stakeholders, 67 percent of those in the community who responded said the process doesn't result in higher quality development, 62 percent say it doesn't compare favorably with other communities and 85 percent said the current regulations hinder development.Upset you don't have a job? Your kid or your friend doesn't have a job? Upset you don't have a nice place to shop or relax? Talk to the Wilmington planning and development department.
Of course, don't talk to the Wilmington City Council, because we all know it's not them who's actually in charge of the city government.