January 27, 2005 (special meeting)
Commission Chambers - Room 400
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
Thursday, January 27, 2005
COMMISSIONERS PRESENT: Michael J. Antonini, Dwight S. Alexander, Kevin Hughes, Sue Lee, William L. Lee, Christina Olague
COMMISSIONERS ABSENT: Bradford Bell
THE MEETING WAS CALLED TO ORDER BY PRESIDENT SUE LEE AT 12:15 p.m.
A. SPECIAL WORKSHOP
1. REVIEW OF WORK PROGRAM PRIORITIES FOR FY 2005-2006.
Alicia John-Baptiste Reported
Re: Hiring Process
- In the current year budget, there are about 135 funded positions.
- There was a restructuring that took place with bout 14 positions being eliminated from the budget and 15 positions added for a net change of one funded position.
- Planning is working with the Department of Human Resources to speed up the process of hiring.
- There will be some provisional hiring as well--like a Public Outreach Coordinator.
Re: Work plan and Work Priorities
- It is important to restore the department and it’s stature.
- Staff has identified goals that identify where progress can be made: improving service, becoming more efficient, building collaborative relationships with stakeholders and carrying out projects that are really important to the community.
- A lot of the funding has come from the Department of Building Inspection instead of from the General Fund. This has allowed the department to carry out some initiatives but this cannot be assumed for next year. So this leaves a “whole” in the budget.
- The department then becomes more engaged in the City’s directions to find ways to reduce the shortfall.
Larry Badiner – Zoning Administrator reported
Re: Neighborhood Planning
- The City as a whole sees about 80,000 permits per year. Last year the Planning Department reviewed 8,700 permits and of these permits, 5,300 were over the counter.
- The goal is to make as many permits over the counter as possible.
- The Board of Supervisors has added Conditional Use for various legislations. This involves more new applications.
- The Commission has added Discretionary Review for various policies, which increases the number of cases.
- There were 52 line planners (that process applications) reduced to 44 planners. This is a drop of 15 percent.
- Regarding enforcement, there has been a vacancy because of personal leave reasons.
- The backlog is about five weeks.
- The code is getting more complicated as well as the legislation.
- The number one priority is to reduce the backlog. For example: In 18 months, this backlog should be of 1 week; the Variances backlog should be down to one month; the backlog in enforcement should be down by adding one planner.
- There is a need to hire someone to do planning process by comparing how other departments do this. An outside view would be good to provide some perspective.
Paul Maltzer – Mayor Environmental Analysis Officer Reported
Re: Environmental Review
- The goals are to deal with efficiency as well.
- The backlog is about 60 cases or about 6 months.
- Reasons for the backlog are the loss of staff and an increase in work.
- There have been more categorical exceptions and appeals to the Board of Supervisors.
- The priorities are to hire staff; reduce planner’s time on each case; and make better use of consultants.
Amit Ghosh – Chief of Citywide Planning Reported
Re: Citywide Planning
- There are about 27 budgeted positions.
- Many of these positions have been vacant.
- The work gets more complex when there is more analysis to be done. A lot of staff resources are spent being a bit less efficient than what would be desired.
- A collaborative planning process is an idea that was suggested.
- There is also a need to plan and develop policy so that the complex transactional entitlement process on a case-by-case basis can be on a more rational plan.
- It is important to allow people to be heard, for the department to be organized, to specify what the priorities are in each particular project, etc.
- There are various citywide planning programs that are about to be completed.
- It is important to start a broad dialogue with the Commission for when we bring the various elements before you to be updated.
Alicia John-Baptiste – Reported
- There was a restructuring recently.
- The outreach coordinator and the Board of Supervisors liaison will be part of administration.
- There is also real basic stuff that needs to be concentrated on.
- There will be a strategic use of technologies.
- The critical area in administration is dealing with old and/or obsolete equipment.
- The proposed budget will be submitted to the Mayor in February 2005.
Lois Scott – Vice President to Local 21 – Planners Chapter
- The information reported is a sign of a closer working department.
- SF STAT and the Union/City Partnership are two programs that the department will be making reports on.
- She looked at the analysis of neighborhood planning and there is another issue that is delaying the work. There are some contentious issues currently and that is that neighborhoods are feeling the loss of the scale of their neighborhoods.
- There are certain areas in the City that have had a loss of planning for many years.
- It is important to reduce mistakes and problems caused by unsupervised planners because this causes time to be wasted.
Mr. Williams – SPUR
- It is important to hope for the best.
- They were instrumental in obtaining funds for the Planning Department.
- Someone needs to take a look at the implications of receiving funding from public benefits.
- It is important to not overlook funding for EIRs. This is what is holding various neighborhood projects up.
- All this planning is a good start but it does not address the interpretation of the codes, the economic impact, the tourism, the business of the City, outreach, etc.
- It is important to stop making exceptions to the rules and exceptions to the code.
- Something that can be corrected is the notion of working smart or not working smart.
- He urged the decision makes to look first at what is in order and then to perhaps group things and work more efficiently.
- The top priority is to improve public service and customer satisfaction as what was mentioned in these presentations.
- She feels that there is actually inadequate public outreach.
Tamara Burk – San Francisco Beautiful
- She encouraged any increase in staff.
- It is important specifically on the enforcement team.
Adjournment: 1:37 p.m.
THESE MINUTES ARE PROPOSED FOR ADOPTION AT THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2005.
AYES: Alexander, Antonini, Hughes, Olague, W. Lee
ABSENT: S. Lee, Bradford-Bell