Tampa Mayor Jane Castor appointed Carole Post as the city’s new Administrator for Development and Economic Opportunity.
The Thursday announcement came as Castor was releasing findings from her Development Services Advisory Team.
Post lead Castor’s transition team. She currently serves as associate vice president and chief administrative officer for USF Health. She’ll stay in that role for another three months before joining the city’s staff in order to oversee the new Morsani College of Medicine opening.
After that Post will resume her roll leading the city’s planning and development to drive long-term economic development success.
Post will play an integral role in fulfilling the advisory committee’s recommendations.
Those recommendations break down into four categories — people and capacity, transparency and accountability, streamlining the process, and updating the land development code.
One of the committee’s main recommendations was to better streamline how the city deals with tree permits.
“Tampa has a love affair with our trees. In fact, Tampa is regularly ranked as having the most robust tree canopy in the world according to MIT. Because of this, Tampa has very stringent tree protection requirements. And in the past, this required the City to inspect each and every project that involved a tree,” Castor said.
Moving forward, however, the city is introducing a training and certification program that will allow certified arborists to inspect trees on the city’s behalf, which will make the process of tree removal or trimming that requires a permit go faster.
The city will also re-introduce a program that allows it to use state-authorized private providers for review and inspections within the overall permitting process.
In order to increase transparency and accountability, the city plans to expand its customer support.
“While we have a state-of-the-art system to process most applications, sometimes you still need the human touch,” Castor said. “Our advisory team strongly recommended expanding the client facilitator role to handle the most complex projects, as well as the simpler ones where a homeowner might be unfamiliar with our process and need a helping hand.”
Castor said the city will also work to improve its online tools to make them easier to navigate and find needed information.
The city is also rolling out customer support workshops where residents can get answers to some of the most common questions.
The city will also put out more user guides, checklists and instructions to better inform city customers of required steps and processes for various services.
The recommendations also include cutting red tape.
To do that, the city is expanding its same-day service “Fast-Pass” function to include access for things like temporary tents, small residential additions, interior build outs without structural changes and canopies and awnings.
“This list will remain dynamic, as needs vary we will add to the current list of application types that are eligible for same-day processing,” Castor said.
Castor said the city will also launch a “Homeowner’s Nights” program that allows homeowners to schedule after hours visits to access city services on their schedule.
Other recommendations include updating the city’s land development code to streamline its rules. That includes assessing code requirements that are often waived to determine whether they should be modified.
Changing the city’s code would require City Council approval.
The advisory team consisted of people from a variety of backgrounds including developers and architects, trade groups, arborists, design professionals, planners and contractors. It also included homeowners who have experienced the city’s construction permitting process.