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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 27

Meeting Date: April 10, 2001

Subject/Title: Economic Development Restructuring

Submitted by: Jon Elam, City Manager

Approved by: Jon Elam, City Manager



RECOMMENDATION
Approve the creation of a new City Department of Economic Development effective July 1, 2001.

Approve the revised Commercial Application Flow Provision and the position of Project Manager.

PREVIOUS ACTION
The City Council at it’s January 2001 Priority Setting Retreat identified fostering new economic development as one of its top priorities for 2001. Since then the Economic Development Subcommittee (Mayor Mc Poland and Councilmember Hill) has met eight times to work on the proposal before you.

COMMENTS
The City Council approved the creation of an Economic Development Manager position in the City Manager’s Office in 1999. This position has been filled by Mr. Howard Sword. 

Mr. Sword over the past two years has done an excellent job of exploring ways for approaches the City can use to create economic development strategy. In concert with the Economic Development Subcommittee created by the new Mayor and City Council in January of 2001, a major new focus is nearly ready to move forward. This focus consists of a number of separate but related initiatives.

They started off by elevating the Economic Development Manager position to the level of Department Head. This will provide the organizational recognition necessary for the Economic Development efforts to be on an equal basis with other City units and provides the leadership required to carry out the City Council’s Economic Development mission.

Within this new unit will be incorporated the position of Redevelopment Agency Manager, Commercial Application Processing Manager (a joint appointment with Community Development) and related support positions.

One of the key foundations of the Economic Development effort for City Council has been the creation of a first class application process for new commercial applications.

Staff is prepared this evening to review the proposed applicant flow chart that outlines this process.

The goal was to let City commercial applicants understand exactly the steps their applications will go through, the time required and identify the key contact point for each application.

The recommendation is to have a separate “Project Manager” position to manage all commercial applications. This person who must have a broad background of commercial project management would be paid from the commercial applicant’s fees (thus giving them more for their money). Presently the City does not project any commercial fees in our city budget system, so the actual fiscal impact of doing this is minimal.

This position would be housed (desk-wise) in Community Development (space is in question), but would be a joint appointment (50% each) on Economic Development and Commercial Development (thus overseen by Howard Sword and Mitch Oshinsky).

City staff would revise, in line with this, the internal review process for all applications. Formerly they have been reviewed by an internal staff committee. This often left applicants in the dark in terms of information discussed. A new design review process would be setup for all commercial projects (the old process would remain for residential projects only). The Project Manager would review the application to ensure a complete project has been submitted with the Planning staff.

Once certified as complete the application would be reviewed internally for environmental determinations, traffic studies, etc. It will also be routed to various agencies and departments with a three-week turn around for comments. These comments would be routed to the Project Manager who will contact these and provide them to the applicant for comment or response (one week).

Once comments from all agencies and the applicant (many face-to-face meetings may be held) are received a meeting will be held that will lead to consensus on the conditions of approval that would be recommended for the project.

The Economic Development Subcommittee would be available as needed for both the staff and applicant as impasses occur. The goal is to keep everything moving. Once complete the applicant is ready to move forward to the Planning Commission.

The City has already started to see the beginning of success for these efforts with the word received last week of receipt of a $100,000 grant from the State of California that will greatly expand the City’s efforts to market itself in the very competitive economic development area.

Staff will return at a future City Council meeting with a more detailed description of the City’s Economic Development Program and its structure. By approving these two initial steps it will give the effort the support it needs to continue to evolve, with a formal rollout no later than July 1, 2001.

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