The Pet Project That Won’t Die (Or Live)

June 30, 2009 at 12:05pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Mayor Beutler’s pet “one stop development shop” just can’t get off the ground. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

The idea sounds good enough: Local developers, along with Lincoln’s healthy population of folks who think the City does nothing right, have long complained that doing business in Lincoln can be tricky. Ugly, even. Whether or not that’s true isn’t the point. There’s a perception that it is true, and that in itself is a problem. Mayor Beutler’s proposed solution is to bring several offices under one roof to make several pieces of the development process simpler. Sounds great, right?

It’s not quite that simple. For one thing, it sounds like this is going to cost us at least $120,000 more per year. In a City Lincoln’s size that’s real money, and it has to come from somewhere. Furthermore, putting a bunch of people together under one roof doesn’t guarantee anything. Without a system-wide culture shift, nothing changes. Even then developer and public perception has to change as well.

One possibility is to create some sort of “Development Czar” position. That may give some cohesion to disparate offices and departments, but it’s yet another cost to deal with. Jon Camp even thinks a Czar would “de-politicize” the process. With all due respect to Mr. Camp, I hope he isn’t actually so naive as to believe such a silly thing. Nothing in local government is apolitical. Certainly a long-time City Council member should know that.

Other than generic “the process is difficult” complaints, I’m not sure what’s so difficult for developers. I would love to see a list of specific complaints. Better yet, I would love to see organizations like LIBA, the Home Builders Association, and the Chamber of Commerce each come up with their own lists along with a checklist of specific proposed solutions. That would be a huge help for people like me who are still fuzzy on the specifics of the problem and therefore can’t offer up much of an educated argument for or against particular solutions.

What’s your take on the “one stop development shop” and the current state of complaints related to doing business with the City?

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The Comments

Fletch June 30, 2009 at 7:46pm

Speaking of the mayor, I figured you’d be excited last week when he blew the dust off the plans for the South Beltway and said WE NEED TO GET THIS PROJECT GOING.

Oh yeah, and it was great to meet you and the fam at SouthPointe the other night. Looked like Robbie was having a great time!

Mr. Wilson June 30, 2009 at 7:59pm

Oh crud, you’re right about the South Beltway article. I meant to give Mayor Beutler props for showing some enthusiasm for that project. I think I missed blogging it because I had just returned to town and I was still catching up with work. For the curious, here is the article.

And yes, it was great to put a face to your nom du web. I still owe you lunch sometime…

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