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Development Process Improvement

Project Overview:

The Economic Development Department (ED Department) released a Request for Proposal in April 2016 for a consultant to evaluate and make recommendations to improve the City’s development review process.  In September 2016, the City executed a contract with the selected consultant, Michael Baker International (“consultant”). The selected consultant not only has vast knowledge in organization efficiency studies, but also provides development related consulting services for many agencies in California and across the United States.

The comprehensive evaluation will document challenges, barriers and opportunities with the City’s current processes, and highlight ways to improve efficiency and increase the overall customer service experience of the development process. The study will benchmark the City’s current practices and propose performance standards and measures it can adopt, focusing on core methods, practices and organizational culture and comparing with the practices of other cities’ development review processes.  

The consultant’s Scope of Work outlines the following tasks:

Review of Existing Processes and Materials (September & October 2016). The consultant reviewed materials provided by the City, including application forms and other information available to the public, planning staff reports, communications with applicants, and much more.  In addition, the consultant reviewed the City’s website, evaluated its ease of navigation and depth of information, and compared it to websites of other cities.

Interviews and meeting with Staff, Agencies and Stakeholders (October 2016). The consultant is interviewing staff from the divisions, departments and agencies involved in the development review process: Planning, Building, Economic Development, Public Works-Engineering, Public Works-Water, City Attorney, Fire Prevention and Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District.  The consultant will also interview members of the City Council and Planning Commission as well as current and former applicants. A focus group with business leaders through the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce was held on October 12.  Finally, the consultants will be observing internal staff meetings and meetings between staff and applicants.

Cross-City Comparison (November 2016). During this stage, the consultant will also compare the City of Vallejo’s development review process to other jurisdictions (that are geographically proximate, of similar size and/or of similar demographics) to understand how Vallejo’s process differs from cities with high-functioning development services, including staffing, turnaround times, accuracy, quantity and quality of internal and external communication.

Anticipated in January 2017, the final report will incorporate the analysis of the previous task and present a set of recommendations in the areas of management and organization, communications, technology, customer service, staffing and fiscal responsibility (tracking and cost recovery). In addition, the final report will establish performance measures and reporting mechanisms that both management and staff can use to bring individual accountability, uniform standards and predictability to the City’s development review process. The presentation to the City Council is intentionally timed to correspond to the mid-year budget adjustments and to inform the FY 17-18 budget development process to begin in March 2017.

Contact:
If you have any questions, please contact Andrea Ouse at (707) 648-4163 or andrea.ouse@cityofvallejo.net or Alea Gage, who is providing project management for the 360 Degree Evaluation, at (707) 649-5454 or alea.gage@cityofvallejo.net.