On February 8, 2012, Mayor Michael Hancock announced a new plan to streamline Denver's site plan review, permitting, and inspection services. This new plan has been dubbed "DevelopDENVER," and its vision is to make the city's Development Services office a "one-stop shop" for developers. Currently, Development Services serves as a liaison between the various city entities that are involved in project and construction review. DevelopDENVER seeks to expand Development Services' role to make it the hub for all development and construction approvals.
DevelopDENVER sets forth three goals to achieve in the next three to four years, each intended to expand Development Services' role in the handling of development and construction regulations. These goals can be summarized as follows:
Customer Service DevelopDENVER aims to create conditions conducive to high-quality, effective and efficient customer service in the plan review, permitting and inspections processes. This includes a continued effort to streamline the plan review, permitting and inspection services processes across city agencies by placing Development Services in the approval process. The various city agencies would retain approval authority for appropriate pieces of the development process and Development Services would serve as the interface between the developers and the city agencies in an effort to expedite the entire development process.
Formalize the Organizational Structure of Development Services DevelopDENVER also recognizes that to sustain Development Services' advocacy role in plan review, permitting and inspection services, the organizational structure must be more formally implemented. This will ensure required resources are available to adequately sustain key functions, and will result in a permanent organizational structure and staff that are fully integrated into the city's regulatory infrastructure. This goal complements the first goal and would provide Development Services with the capacity to handle its increased role.
Implement a Continuous System for Process Improvement Finally DevelopDENVER recognizes that the review process for development applications should be continually examined with an ongoing commitment by city staff to seek new and better ways of doing business. DevelopDENVER sets out an explicit intent to "proactively engage staff" to participate in process review teams that will look at how things have been done, what are the best practices, and what changes are needed.
As is the case with many strategic plans and similar documents, DevelopDENVER is aspirational in nature. The details of implementation are yet to be seen. However, with DevelopDENVER, the city has made this new role for Development Services a priority which may result in big changes to the way Denver approves projects. Otten Johnson has worked with Development Services since its inception and will leverage that knowledge and expertise to continue to help clients navigate the changing landscape of project approvals in Denver.