City Hall set for reorganization

CITY HALL — Residents could deal with fewer bureaucratic headaches in coming months under a reorganization of four of the city’s key departments that received City Council approval Tuesday.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the proposed reorganization, which would disband the Community Development and Housing Department and assign its functions and staff to three modified existing departments — Planning, Development Services, and Parks, Recreation and Community Services.

City officials say the changes would result in a streamlining of department functions and public services.

“The goal has really been to look to improve service delivery,” said City Manager Jim Starbird.

Council members expressed enthusiasm for the changes, which they said have been in the works for years.

“I am very pleased we have finally put this together,” said Mayor Frank Quintero. “I think it’s long overdue.”

As a part of the reorganization, Parks, Recreation and Community Services would become the Community Services and Parks Department, and would focus on the city’s social service programs.

The Planning Department would become the Community Planning Department, which would oversee all land-use and entitlement issues in the city, including all permitting and code enforcement.

And Development Services would become the Economic Development and Housing Department, which would oversee all redevelopment activity, affordable-housing development and the city’s Section 8 program.

While financial motives did not drive the changes, they would save the city about $150,000 annually, with the potential for more in the future.

City Council members said they were most keen on the combination of planning, permitting and code enforcement functions, which they said could help building processes be less confusing for residents.

“Too often people are trying to figure out which department they belong in,” said Councilman Dave Weaver.

The shift could also be used to beef up the city’s code enforcement efforts, Councilwoman Laura Friedman added.

Council members also gave direction for city officials to evaluate whether any of the city’s boards and commissions related to the departments should also be consolidated to reflect the department changes.

“I think this might be a good time to look at it,” said Councilman Ara Najarian.

The restructuring of the departments is slated to be implemented by the end of November. But the physical move of the revamped departments is contingent upon the completion of renovations to the old police building at the corner of Wilson Avenue and Isabel Street.

City officials are proposing to locate the Economic Development and Housing Department and the Community Planning Department in the refurbished police building, and to move the Community Services and Parks Department to the Municipal Services Building.

Starbird said the office moves would likely occur in July 2010.

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