Built Out Cities

Dear Management Doctor:

I was wondering if you have a thoughtful answer to this one:

My City Council and City Manager seem to believe that once the city is built out, planning staff will have nothing left to do. We know that is not the case. As communities mature, redevelopment and changes in land use keep planners pretty busy. Do you know of any articles regarding city staffing and maturing of newer communities like Rancho Mirage?

Thanks and keep up the valuable info dissemination!

Randy Bynder, AICP
City of Rancho Mirage, CA

Dear Randy,

I don't know of any staffing numbers for built out cities but do have some thoughts on how to set the staffing level.

When I do a staffing analysis I normally divide the work into two groups. One group consists of those items that come from outside activities. These would be whatever applications may still exist, code enforcement complaints, and similar activities. Once you know the numbers you can simply apply the number of hours required for each. You can look at some of my earlier articles to show you how to do the calculations.

The other group is everything else. This could include updating the General Plan and ordinances, neighborhood studies, corridor studies, redevelopment, traffic studies, tree planting, etc. You should prepare a comprehensive list of these and estimate the number of hours of staff needed for each one. Then give the list to the City Council and City Manager to see if they want any of these done. I like to actually ask them to adopt a list as part of each year's budget.

If they don't want anything done, extend the length of your lunches and golf games and look around for a place that wants and needs some good planning.

The Management Doctor (not a mature city but a mature planner)