A new Glendale city agency focused on cutting red tape for developers and business owners could be created today, despite complaints that it would actually result in more, not less, bureaucracy.
The proposed Development Services Department stems from an organizational audit of the city, performed by an outside consultant this year. It produced 28 recommendations to make the city run more efficiently.
The new department would oversee business licenses, building inspections and zoning and design reviews--tasks that are currently spread among six departments, officials said.
Last week the City Council postponed its vote on the matter until today after critics charged that the changes were being made without public input. An informational meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. today before the council meeting.
"You may have studied this for 18 months, (but) no one else has," former Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg told the council. She said it is important that the council maintain "a sense of openness."
Bremberg also said the restructuring would put tremendous power in the hands of the director of the new agency. Removing functions such as zoning and design reviews from the Planning Department, as proposed, would be folly, she said.
"I don't know of any city where that's been done," Bremberg said.
But proponents of the move contend it would help the local economy by eliminating bureaucratic redundancies.
City Manager David Ramsay, who led a committee of city department heads that drew up the plans for the department, said the agency would be created without adding personnel and would simplify the bureaucratic maze for those trying to get a business permit.
"It's one thing to say you want to be a more business-minded city and another thing to actually take steps to become that way," Ramsay said. "The mission of this new department is that for anyone who wants to develop their property or open a business in the city, given the rules, we want to make it a successful experience for them."
The new department would replace the Glendale Redevelopment Agency and take on functions related to land use, business services and economic development, business retention and business-related promotional events, such as street fairs.
Today's informational meeting was slated after Mayor Eileen Givens and other council members said they had not studied the impacts of creating the new department enough to vote on the matter.
But Councilman Larry Zarian said he is eager to begin implementing some of the recommendations of the Warner Group, the firm that audited the city's organizational structure.
"Often bureaucracy is created by dividing too many duties among too many departments," Zarian said. "If we want this city to run more efficiently and more like a business, we should begin implementing some of the things that make a business successful."