Changes include appointment of ombudsman, streamlining development code and creating online review process.
By Chris Eversole
The combined efforts of Gainesville city officials and the building community to streamline the development process without emasculating it are paying off, people involved say.
“The changes are being implemented, and things are getting better,” says John Hudson, a member of a city advisory committee that completed a study last year on ways to improve the process.
The city implemented some changes while the committee was working, and it has put in place other changes since them, says Erik Bredfeldt, who has coordinated the city’s efforts.
One change the committee recommended was to create an ombudsman position for the development process—someone who had clout in solving problems that people encountered.
City Manager Russ Blackburn appointed Bredfeldt to the ombudsman position in December. In addition to being the ombudsman, Bredfeldt will serve as the city’s economic development director.
Bredfeldt came to the city 10 years ago as economic development and innovation director. Over the past five years, he’s served as director of the Planning and Development Services Department.
Bredfeldt was a good choice as the ombudsman, says Hudson, whose business, Hudson and Company, serves as a consultant to people navigating the building process.
“He has the potential to do an excellent job, depending on how much the city burdens him with other responsibilities,” Hudson says.
Other staff changes are in the works.
The city is recruiting someone to fill Bredfeldt’s position as planning and development director. It’s also searching for a new chief building official to replace Doug Murdock, who retired.