County Hires Coordinator For General & Community Plan Drafts

(September 27) The county this week moved to hire a community planning coordinator to assist its land use services division in completing an update of the county general plan and fourteen of its community plans.
According to Tom Hudson, the director of the county’s land use services department and Terry Rahhal, the county’s planning director, the community planning coordinator, indentified as Jason Jones, will have a limited 15-month tenure with the county that will end when the general plan updates and community plan drafts are completed. He will receive a total  compensation package of $188,184 for the 15-month assignment.
In a report to the county board of supervisors from Hudson and Rahhal dated September 24, it was asserted that “Approval of this item will authorize an employment contract with Mr. Jason Jones to direct the preparation of 14 community plans as a community planning coordinator. The county is moving into a new era of community-based planning. Fourteen community plans and the county general plan will be updated starting in this fiscal year. Previously, community plans prepared by the county have not been very effective in meeting the unique needs of individual communities, nor have the priorities of these communities been well integrated into the general plan. Most communities in the county are concerned about managing development in ways that protect local character, lifestyles and sense of place. As a contract employee, Mr. Jones will provide the county with his total focus with an estimated cost savings of $229,000 as compared to like consultants. During the term of his contract, the services to be performed include the preparation of 14 community plans. Through this process, Mr. Jones will help ensure three key ends: 1) Each plan will reflect the unique priorities, heritage and conditions of the individual community; 2) There will be continuity among all community plans in terms of overall process and deliverables; and 3) Collection of information from each community will be done in ways that support county needs in the general plan update  with regard to priorities for public facilities, infrastructure and community development.”
According to Hudson and Rahhal, Jones’ duties and responsibilities will include focusing on the preparation of a prototype community plan, guiding staff in the preparation of the initial community plan document, leading staff in terms of the plan’s vision, organization and team, community goals, lifestyle, land use, character, connections/circulation, and regulatory system components, forecasting the demand for infrastructure and public facilities, creating design guidelines, and compiling reference materials.
Hudson and Rahhal said that in laying out the planning documents, Jones is expected to formulate a model for all subsequent community plans and to identify all community plans’ priorities that should be addressed in the general plan update.
In their report, Hudson and Rahhal were highly laudatory of Jones’ skills, declaring, “Mr. Jones is a national-level expert in design and form-based code, a Certified Downtown Professional, and a proven specialist in community development, design and outreach. Well known in the western U.S. for his community outreach and facilitation skills, Mr. Jones has worked in San Bernardino County, is from Southern California, and knows the High Desert region well. Mr. Jones’ long history of success, his abilities in guiding community design, setting design standards, and strengthening local character are particularly well suited to the approach we propose for this new era of community plans.”
Jones will receive an annual salary of  $128,107, with no benefits. He will be provided with an annual expense stipend of $22,440 in addition to his salary. Thus, according to Hudson and Rahhal, “The total cost of the employment contract is $188,184 which includes $160,134 for salary expenses and $28,050 in related expenses. Benefits are not included in the contract. Sufficient appropriation exists in the land use services department 2013-14 budget for this work (and related expenses), which is a part of the general plan update. Appropriations will also be included in the land use services department 2014-15 budget. Mr. Jones will work full time on directing the preparation of community plans for 15 months (2,600 hours) at an hourly rate of $61.59 plus expenses. At the end of the 15 months, his work will be completed and his contract will be terminated. Consultants with similar expertise and background would be paid $150 per hour plus expenses. The financial savings in hiring Mr. Jones as a contract employee exceeds $229,000. A hired consultant, with the combination of Mr. Jones’ skills, would also have travel, per diem and accommodation expenses.”

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