Innovation Team Members

From left to right: Walter Blackman, Leidy Garcia, Travis Crane, Alicia Thomas, Isaac Roldan, Liz Faw, Donald Irwin, Rachel Smith, and Sam Hobgood.

Planning and Development Innovation Team

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What is Innovation? The Innovation Team Team’s Approach Find Out What the Team is Doing

What is Innovation?

Innovation is an interesting concept that can be defined in a variety of ways. At its basic level, innovation defines the human struggle between comfort and challenge. The Innovation Team sees the incredible opportunity to work together to stretch outside our believed boundaries, and follow the human desire to explore, learn, and grow. Our work is to look at inputs and outcomes with a fresh lens and purpose.

The Innovation Team

Times of change, shifting customer demands and new technologies make innovation to our existing process necessary. For these reasons, Planning & Development has committed a diverse group of staff members to evaluate our development review process. The team is actively working to identify the factors within the review process that most significantly challenge residential and commercial development. Once they identify pinch points, staff will implement a series of changes that allow the development plan review process to be more predictable, more efficient, and timely while maintaining the rigor of review by:

  1. Simplifying, combining, or eliminating unnecessary steps.
  2. Increasing coordination between divisions and other City departments.
  3. Redefining review benchmarks (due dates).
  4. Creating clear communication for staff and customers.
  5. Standardizing laws and codes when necessary.

Once improvements are complete, Planning & Development expects to see better outcomes for the organization and the development community for the following items:

  • Permitting services.
  • Inspection services.
  • Development review services.
  • Development services customer service.

Team’s Approach

The team focuses on innovating by using a three-step process:

1. Assessment 2. Testing 3. Implementation
The opportunity to learn about the user experience and define problems through empathy. The innovation team tackles assessment by carrying out journey mapping, peer city comparisons, and end-user surveys.

The essential step of creating solutions and trying them out. Example testing includes brainstorming with focus groups and performing small-scale pilots.

Begins when solutions have been tested and believed to provide the best possible outcome. Communication, training, and continued evaluation are key components to successful implementation.

Although this process looks like a straight line from start to finish, it is more of a circle in practice. Implementation often generates opportunity to redefine problems and therefore loops back into previous steps. The goal is to generate the best possible outcome by having a deep understanding of problems that end-users experience.

Find Out What the Team is Doing

Check out the finalized Action Plan and see what the team has been working on:

Application Evaluation

We've been busy inventorying and evaluating commonly used PDF applications, with the goal of updating them for a better user experience. Currently, we are focusing on the non-residential and residential permit applications.

Here's the latest progress:

  • Residential Permit Application: It's in the initial evaluation phase and will take a few months to complete fully.
  • Non-Residential Permit Application: This application has advanced through multiple phases and is now in its final evaluation stage. Once the final steps are completed, the revised application will be available for customer use.

Change of Use Bookings Webpage 

A Change of Use Bookings webpage had been created to offer enhanced support for customers and prospective applicants. This platform enables applicants to schedule a 20-minute meeting with a building and zoning reviewer, ensuring they receive customized assistance to effectively navigate the change of use process. These appointments are specifically tailored to accommodate the individual needs and unique situations of each applicant. Thus far, the newly introduced bookings webpage has been a success with a substantial number of completed appointments and positive feedback from customers. 

Work Type Audit 

The Innovation Team is currently working on a comprehensive work type audit focused on examining, analyzing, and assessing the diverse range of tasks within the Planning and Development department. As part of this project, the team is developing a process catalog designed to systematically categorize all work types within the department. This catalog will be like a guidebook for us. It will organize all the types of work we do and explain how each process works. By doing this, we aim to get a better understanding of our workflows, make our operations run more smoothly, and improve our department’s overall efficiency. This effort will help us stay innovative and achieve excellence in everything we do.

How to Videos

The Innovation Team, in partnership with our Communications team are working on developing video series with the purpose of addressing frequently asked questions and offering comprehensive guidance on the utilization of commonly used processes. These videos will be accessible for both internal staff and public consumption, serving as valuable resources to enhance understanding and proficiency in common procedures. If you have video ideas, please reach out to the innovation team’s contact listed on this page.

Review Turnaround Times 

We are excited to announce a new project to improve transparency in processing and review times for development plan reviews and permitting. This project will make real-time data on average review turnaround times and our progress in meeting benchmarks publicly available. Our commitment to transparency means everyone can see up-to-date information, helping to build trust and accountability in the development process.



Elizabeth Faw
Administrative Supervisor
Planning and Development

Planning and Development