Clarke to send planning and development re-org plan back to committee for more discussion

Council President Darrell Clarke said on Thursday that he would send his proposal to restructure the city’s planning and development agencies back to committee for more discussion and amendments.

The proposal, which would require approval by a majority of voters through a ballot question, was initially approved by the Committee on Law and Government last month after a one-hour hearing. During that hearing, developers and public-safety advocates asked for more time to understand the impacts of the change. See previous coverage of the proposal here and here.

Earlier this week, a coalition of civic groups sent a letter to Council asking for the legislation to be removed from the agenda.

Clarke said some amendments were already in the works, but declined to talk about them in detail.

Clarke’s proposal was released the same day that a Special Independent Advisory Commission appointed by the mayor made a series of recommendations to improve the Department of Licenses and Inspections. A major recommendation of that report was to split L&I into a Dept. of Buildings and a Dept. of Business Compliance. Clarke’s proposal would distribute L&I’s responsibilities throughout a new Dept. of Planning and Development, charged with streamlining the development process in the city. Some saw that as creating a conflict of interest between development and public safety.

“I knew that there were some concerns raised as a result of the conversation we had had prior to the hearing,” Clarke said. “So from my perspective, it’s best to have on-the-record support based on those amendments in the event that anybody expresses some concerns about the process.”

Clarke said he still wants the initiative to be on the May ballot. A second committee hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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