20 Questions To Ask Your Staff
The most effective elected officials know how to ask the right questions.
The following questions are designed for use by local leaders interested
in making their communities more livable, healthy, and economically successful.
- (For Sacto region) Are you familiar with the SACOG Blueprint Principles?
Have you attended any conferences or workshops on this topic?
(For others) Are you familiar with Smart Growth, the Ahwahnee Principles
or the New Urbanism? Have you attended any conferences or read any books
or articles on this topic?
- Are you familiar with Form Based Codes and the Transect as a visioning
- Does the city manager, planning director, and public works director
share a common vision with the city council, or is each project reviewed
a hierarchical process?
- Has the staff worked with citizens to create a common vision for the
community, or is citizen input confined to gathering reacting to specific
- (For Sacto. region) Is our General Plan consistent with the Blueprint
(For others) Is our General Plan consistent with Smart Growth or the
- Are our implementing ordinances consistent with our general plan?
- Do we have overlay ordinances for Transit Oriented Development and
Traditional Neighborhood Development? Do we offer incentives for
- Do we have a mixed-use ordinance – how do we define mixed use?
- What are our street width standards? Are those also applied to PUDs?
- What is the position of our parks and recreation department regarding
- Are our usual standards for parking, street widths, parks, etc.
applied do PUDs, or do we allow flexibility to innovative projects.
- Do the planning/public works departments have overall parking
standards or do we reduce parking requirements under certain
conditions – i.e.
for transit oriented development, where there are opportunities for
shared parking, car sharing, etc.)
- Are the public works and planning departments aware of the new
EPA requirements for urban runoff? If so, are these being enforced?
- Is the PUD process set up to allow rapid processing of innovative
projects or do we require a variance for each feature that doesn’t comply
with our usual standards?
- What are our priorities of our various departments for capital
improvements? Are they consistent with the Blueprint Principles
(or Smart Growth Principles)?
- Does staff consider land use when you do transportation planning?
Do our public works and planning departments work together
when submitting capital
projects to the MPO for transportation funding?
- Does our staff provide guidance to developers prior to the
submission of their plans or do they just react to what
- How do you look at your role as a planner? Do you see yourself
as enforcing existing codes or to you feel you can be
more flexible? Is the information
required under project review more quantitative or qualitative?
- Do our various departments (planning, public works, parks
and recreation, police, health, etc.) meet together
with the developers to review
proposed plans for new development?
- On larger projects, is there citizen input throughout
the entire process or is citizen input limited to
public hearings at the
end of the process?