Stay up to Date
Our weekly insiders' guide to political and policy news (Saturdays)
San Diego hired a rock star planning director on Tuesday. Then things got really interesting.
San Diego’s planning and development world has had a busy few days.
It started when Mayor Bob Filner introduced Bill Fulton, former Ventura mayor and big-deal-planning-guy, as the head of the reconstituted city planning department.
In the world of progressive California planning, he’s the guy.
But since he started running for mayor, Filner’s been talking about a total reorganization of the way the city handles planning and development. Hiring a planning director is only one component.
Fulton’s in charge of conceiving and implementing a long-range vision for San Diego’s neighborhoods.
A New Planning Vision
Filner’s office provided us this week with a draft outline of how he’d like to structure all the parts of city government that have to do with building stuff.
The chart includes two positions that don’t currently exist, assistant to the mayor for planning and development, and city architect.
A spokesman in Filner’s office said he isn’t actively seeking to fill those positions.
The city architect would be in charge of guiding the quality of public and private projects.
At Fulton’s press conference, Filner mentioned the position was last held by Michael Stepner, now a professor at NewSchool of Architecture & Designs, who was in the audience for the announcement.
The Planning and Neighborhood Restoration Department, the part of the hierarchy in that lower left-hand corner, is Fulton’s responsibility.
To the right of that is “Neighborhood San Diego.” That’s how Filner would like to rename Civic San Diego, the nonprofit organization formed by the consolidation of the city’s former redevelopment agency.
Civic San Diego is currently in charge of finishing the taxpayer-funded redevelopment projects that were approved before the state ended the program, and approving permits in the downtown area.
In recent months, Civic San Diego CEO Jeff Graham has discussed expanding the latter function into other neighborhoods to help spur investment in areas neglected by developers.
Filner this week said he’s trying to figure out a way he can legally fit Civic San Diego into his and Fulton’s overall concept of city planning.
“We don’t need to fit into them; they need to fit into what we’re doing,” he said.
He said he’s been looking through the organization’s bylaws to find a way to make that possible.
The third section of the city’s development functions is development services, which used to be the department within which the planning division operated.
The standalone development services department would be in charge of day-to-day operations like permit review, code compliance and building inspection.
Kelly Broughton led development services under Mayor Jerry Sanders, but took a similar job with Chula Vista.
Tom Tomlinson, former facilities financing program manager, has taken over on an interim basis.
But as of Friday morning, Cecilia Gallardo, deputy director of development services, is no longer working for the city, either because she was fired or asked to resign.
That followed a drama-filled afternoon for the normally staid Planning Commission.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said city employees learned of Gallardo’s departure Thursday morning. It was Friday morning.