Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

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“Accept the Era of the Ministerial”

From a CP&DR post by William Fulton, September 17, 2019

“Cities around California are beginning to feel tremendous pressure from the state to accommodate new housing rather than just plan for it. And there’s a growing feeling among planners around California that the cities they work for had better be more proactive on the housing issue so that the state doesn’t step in with even more onerous requirements.”

“ ‘We are making a transition from a discretion-based society to a ministerial-based society,’ [former Berkeley planning director Mark] Rhoades said. Cities are fighting this idea on the legislative level, but on the ground you have to make sure the ministerial projects are the ones you want.’ ”

That’s part of what Bill Fulton summarized from the annual California Planning Roundtable panel at this year’s APA California planning conference in Santa Barbara.

At the same panel, “Longtime Mountain View [former] Community Development Director Elaine Costello [FAICP] pointed out that when they are in the midst of a contentious public hearing, planners often become ‘clamshells,’ completely closing up, saying nothing, and looking down at their notes. But planners shouldn’t be clamshells, she said.

“ ‘One way we can be the leaders is to get the facts out there,’ she said. ‘One, do advance work about what the issues are going to be. The other thing is, at the hearing, have some process for where you can come back and give the facts. That does not mean standing up in the middle of some angry person’s comments. But no clamshells.’ ”

You can read Fulton’s wrap-up on CP&DR here. 

And while you’re there, take a look at Fulton’s “How Localities Are Implementing SB 743.” Both articles are free.