The City Without a Planning Department

Petaluma, California, made headlines last year when it got rid of its planning department. The Architect's Newspaper takes a look at how the city is adapting to contract-based planning through hired consultants.

"As far back as April 2008, shortly after he took office, Petaluma City Manager John Brown said, 'We considered an alternate solution using in-house staff, but the privatized solution offered more flexibility.' On July 9, a one-year consulting contract was awarded to the Metropolitan Planning Group (M-Group). Brown said the firm was selected because of its extensive experience with nearby municipalities-the firm consults with about a dozen Bay Area cities, including Cupertino and Santa Clara.

The move is still fodder for local discussion, as well as for the larger planning community. Petaluma-based architect Mark Albertson, who sits on the board of directors for the Redwood Empire Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, said the changes caused consternation in the tightly knit community of nearly 60,000."

The city still has one planner on staff.

Full Story: A Void in the Plan


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