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City of Atlanta Seeks Input on Major Planning Office Expansion

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Overhaul of planning office could bring major changes to how Atlanta builds — and a much swifter permitting process

Tim Keane joined the City of Atlanta less than one year ago as the Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Community Development. And in that time, he's made some waves, calling for an overhaul of the city's zoning, bike infrastructure, affordable housing, and a sharper focus on the core of the city.

Keane has had to fight with the entrenched bureaucracy and current admistration he joined, and he's now lobbying the Atlanta City Council to make sweeping changes to reorganize the entire planning department of the city. According to an email circulated by Central Atlanta Progress, Keane has presented a proposal to be incorporated into next year's city budget.

Much has been said about Atlanta's backlogged and messy planning process, so the changes could be important. They include:

  • Four new offices under the auspices of the planning department including the Office of Design, the Office of Zoning and Development, the Office of Transportation Planning, and the Office of Neighborhoods
  • The Office of Buildings would potentially have 17 employees, including 12 new hires, allowing for much faster review of permits
  • With the new organization, the oft-complained-about long wait times to receive a permit in the city could be greatly reduced, officials believe

Proposed roles for each department are spelled out starting on page 365 of the Proposed Budget for next year. If the changes are approved, Atlanta could potentially take a few major steps forward in shaping a better city.

The city will take public comments on the proposal at 10 a.m. this Wednesday in City Hall. Central Atlanta Progress is urging Atlantans to come and voice their support, or email Atlanta City Council members about the proposal.