Local Planning Agency Management

PAS Report 582

By Wayne Feiden, FAICP

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Planning agency managers have a lot of roles to juggle. Keeping their team on track is only the start. They have to serve the public, work with other departments, stay abreast of local events, keep up with national trends, and occasionally play politics. Drop one ball, and the rest can come down hard and fast.

But help is at hand. This report from APA's Planning Advisory Service gives managers the essential tools and insights they need to make their offices efficient and effective.

The chapters cover today's vital topics in planning management. What is the best way to organize an office? How should planning staff engage the public? How can the permit counter provide great customer service? What data will help drive the desired results? How do emerging technologies change the game? And what's the secret of leadership that inspires and empowers?

Local Planning Agency Management is an essential resource for planners who want answers, assurance, and advice from those who have stood in their shoes — and stood up to the challenge.


Executive Summary

About the Author

Wayne Feiden, FAICP, is director of planning and sustainability for the City of Northampton, Massachusetts, and lecturer of practice at the University of Massachusetts. His work in Northampton helped the city earn numerous accolades, including the first 5-STAR Community sustainability rating, the highest Massachusetts Commonwealth Capital Scorecard rating for smart growth efforts, a bronze Bicycle Friendly Community rating, a bronze Walk Friendly Community rating, and an American Planning Association Great Streets award. He served as a German Marshall Fund Urban and Regional Policy Fellow in Northern Ireland, England, and Denmark; a Fulbright Specialist in New Zealand and South Africa; and an Eisenhower Fellow in Hungary. He is also author of several PAS Reports on topics including performance guarantees, decentralized wastewater treatment, and the assessing of sustainability. He is also an Honorary Member of the Western Massachusetts American Institute of Architects, and he was inducted into the American Institute of Certified Planners College of Fellows in 2008.

Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
April 1, 2016
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Management 101 and Beyond
Hiring Smart
Planning Agency Management Reviews and Accreditation
Customer Service
Office Space
Planning Management Overview

Chapter 3: Planning Office Organization
Organizational Models
Sustainability and the Planning Office

Chapter 4: The Permit Process and the Permit Counter
Evaluation of Applications
Staff Reports
Development Agreements
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Performance Guarantees
Permits and the Planning Office

Chapter 5: Planning in a Political and Professional Environment
Planners and Their Skill Sets: What Makes a Good Local Government Planner?
Risk-Management Perspective
The Negotiation of Politics and Risk

Chapter 6: Community Engagement

Chapter 7: Metrics and Data

Chapter 8: Information Technology
Strategic Planning For Online Services
Online Permit Tracking
Content Management
Geographic Information Systems
Smartphone and Wearable Technology Applications
Social Media
Technology Looking Forward

Chapter 9: Planning Leadership
Lessons in Planning Leadership
Leadership Ahead

Appendix A: Sample Organizational Charts

Appendix B: Planning Department Vision and Mission Statements