“Serving residents better is at the core of this change,” City Manager Shelley Dickstein stated. “By merging these departments, we will bolster our community engagement efforts throughout the city and grow capacity in our neighborhoods. Additionally, the merger will increase communication across divisions, allowing us to realize synergies in development and pivot to neighborhood-based development strategies while removing barriers for the public.”
Todd Kinskey, who has served as the director of planning and community development since 2018, will lead the department, according to the city.
The new model re-establishes the division of community engagement and combines housing and zoning, which is expected to better serve the needs of neighborhoods and allow for more robust enforcement of residential and commercial codes, the city stated in a release. The new community engagement function will have seven full-time employees who will focus on outreach with residents and building capacity in neighborhoods.
In addition, the merger would allow the permitting and in-take process to become more streamlined for better business customer delivery, the city said.
The new department will have 91 full-time employees and have a total operating budget of $10 million. The department also will oversee grants and special project budgets of more than $29.2 million.