Smart Growth advocate and former Mayor of Ventura, California Bill Fulton was appointed in June by then Mayor Bob Filner to serve as Director of Planning for the City of San Diego; his charge: to revitalize a department that had been merged with Development Services by a previous mayor, Jerry Sanders. Though Mayor Filner has since left office, Fulton remains tasked with reconstituting and strengthening a stand-alone planning department while carrying new community plans to fruition.
The Planning Report spoke with Fulton to discuss how a city planning department’s structure influences planning and to ascertain his priorities going forward. In the wake of budget cuts and recession, planning in San Diego had fallen by the wayside. For Fulton, this spelled opportunity, and Mayor Filner was indeed elected on a platform centered on neighborhood planning.
Today, Fulton relies on his vast and varied experiences to carry on the mission, saying in reference to his former position as Mayor of Ventura, "I’m amazed at how frequently I take the skills I learned in that job and apply them here, and it’s not just political savvy, although that is part of it. It is understanding the experience of—and this is also true in my experience and deep history as a planning commissioner in West Hollywood—actually having to use these documents and figuring out how to use them effectively to create the built environment you are looking for."