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Mayor's Office

2005 Media Releases


Date:
December 22, 2005
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Darl Naumann, Economic Development, 441-7514


Mayor Releases Study On Improving Development Process
Mayor will appoint implementation group

Mayor Coleen J. Seng today accepted and released the Development and Permitting Process Improvement Study and announced she would name a community group to review the recommendations and discuss implementation.

“The development process is key to the economic expansion of our City,” said Mayor Seng. “I ordered this development process audit because I want the City to take a hard look at itself. An outside examination of how Lincoln encourages development can produce good ideas for improvement. Time is money, both for developers and for taxpayers. Additional streamlining can help save taxpayers and developers money while improving the process.”

Seng said she will name a group from the public and private sectors to work with her on implementing those recommendations that the group concurs can further improve the process. The report is available on the City Web site, lincoln.ne.gov.

The report released today is the second phase of Mayor Seng’s efforts to improve coordination between the private and public sectors and improve internal communication on development projects.

“With input from the development community, I have been working on ways to improve the development process while preserving neighborhood and family quality of life issues,” said Seng. “ It is very important that Lincoln’s economic development and job creation efforts are not hampered by unnecessary process.”

In May 2003, Mayor Seng implemented 17 changes recommended by the Streamlining Task Force. Those changes reduced processing time on projects and eliminated some steps in the development process. To improve project management, the staffs of the Planning and Public Works and Utilities departments now meet weekly to jointly review new development projects. Additions to the City Web site allow developers to do more online. The Mayor also authorized the installation of project management software called “Permits Plus” at key City departments to streamline the process.

As part of her phase two efforts, Mayor Seng hired Zucker Systems of San Diego, a nationally recognized consulting firm that specializes in analyzing the development process. The Zucker report complimented the City for implementing “numerous changes over the last three years to improve Lincoln’s development process. We are highly supportive of the changes which have been made.” The report says department managers and City policy makers appear to have a desire to continue to improve the development process. The report also cited the number of dedicated and competent staff implementing the development and permitting process for the City of Lincoln.

The report identifies five key areas and offers 67 recommendations on topics including waivers, decision-making, the management of coordination issues, the handling of executive orders and Comprehensive Plan policy.

Among the recommendations:

  • The Mayor should assign overall responsibility to coordinate development process issues and resolve disputes between City departments to her staff aide for economic development.
  • Additional training should be provided to employees in the Planning, Urban Development, Building and Safety and Public Works and Utilities departments.
  • Department managers should empower staff to make decisions and begin training planners to serve as project managers.
  • Individual City departments should be granted new authority to waive standards without City Council approval.
  • The Engineering Division of the Public Works and Utilities Department should be centralized with the Development Services Division, and both should report to the City Engineer.
  • The number of engineers who review development applications should be reduced.
  • The use of the executive order process to make changes should be reduced, and the ability to approve changes should be delegated to the departmental level. Right now, the Mayor must sign an executive order to make changes or release funds.
  • Complex City ordinances should be simplified, and the Comprehensive Plan should be re-formatted to make it easier to read and to clarify City policies.

City Attorney Dana Roper cautioned that while some recommendations may be handled administratively, others may require changes to either City ordinances or the City Charter.


Mayor's Office    Media Releases