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Palo Alto beefs up Development Center staffing

Original post made on Dec 7, 2011

Palo Alto officials forged ahead this week with a plan to streamline the city's notoriously complex permitting process when they committed $1.5 million to add staff to the Development Center.

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Comments (7)

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Posted by Jenny
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Why hasn't the current staff been held accountable for such inefficiency? Why should a department that has failed to serve the public efficiently be rewarded with $1.5M?

They should have put this out to bid. I don't think more government employees is the answer. Also, if our planning dept ever does reach anything approaching reasonable efficiency, it'll be overstaffed with very-hard-to-fire bureaucrats.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Adding extra capacity (staff) is not the same as improving efficiency. In fact, it may degrade efficiency. Also, they are adding a supervisor and a manager in the total of six extra headcount -- hardly a model of wide span-of-control (or flatness) that is characteristic of effective organizational structure. Have the processes at the Development Center been reviewed/redesigned for better service/cost/effectiveness? That would undoubtedly yield better results than simply throwing more people at the problem (and charging even more exorbitant fees).

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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm

The Development Center and the Utilities Department are the two worst departments in Palo Alto, competing head-to-head in a race to the bottom. Both these departments are characterized by bloat, inefficiency and deplorable attitudes towards customers. Not to mention outrageous costs to residents.

The City should institute a review process where they solicit feedback from every single customer regarding how they were treated and how their issues were handled and by whom. The departments need to then follow through with corrective measures, disciplinary action, termination, or clarification to the customer as appropriate. That's Management 101.

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Posted by Arroyo
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2011 at 6:47 am

In my job, I have had the displeasure of having to work with this inept department. They have cost my company thousands of dollars for reports and engineering that was unnecessary and arbritary.

Why did it take "a decade" for Palo Alto to do anything about it?

Some of the current senior managers should be removed from their jobs. The problem has not been the need for more money or number of employees. The problem has been that some of the senior managers in charge of this Department have failed miserably. All the added money will do is provide a bigger "cash cow" for the inept managers to use. It's time to clean house.

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Posted by ANN
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I was dismayed to see that 4 of the five people to be hired are managers/supervisors/coordinators. I think it would be much more efficient to hire people who do the the actual work.

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Posted by Arent we short of $
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm

This appears to be Jim Keene's idea of managing a city. Fire the low level people and hire more highly paid managers who will be beholden to the City Manager.
Isn't he the City Manager who said we were in financial straits? So he hires a bunch of new managers. Any wonder people don't trust government?

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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2011 at 12:13 am

In 21st century America, Government exists to perpetuate and expand itself.

View their actions in those terms, then it all makes sense.

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