Supervisors endorse regulatory reforms

Supervisors endorse regulatory reforms

Maricopa County Supervisors endorse regulatory reforms;
Changes aimed at “treating customers better,” rules less burdensome

A months-long review of Maricopa County’s regulatory process has resulted in today’s adoption of a set of 22 recommendations aimed at eliminating unnecessary rules and improving customer service. The report suggested changes in customer service, drainage review, permitting and regulatory reform.

The Board of Supervisors endorsed the report and its recommendations today in a unanimous vote. The recommendations include provisions to increase online reviews of proposed projects, to eliminate unnecessary regulations, especially early in the planning process and greater outreach and education in the regulatory process. County officials said none of the changes will affect public safety but will make county operations more “applicant-friendly.”

“We expect good customer service as the standard for county government. These recommendations will go far to improve the regulatory process and how we interact with the customer,“ Board Chairman Denny Barney said afterward. “I want to thank the members of the task force and the planning staff but especially the citizen members who volunteered to work months on this project. They did enormous research and devoted two full days a month in hearings and negotiations.”

The task force consisted of 26 citizens appointed to represent major stakeholders, including developers, homebuilders, engineers and attorneys. The members have been meeting with department officials in four major subject areas: drainage review, permitting, customer service and regulatory reform.

“This is not window dressing,” Supervisor Steve Chucri said. “We believe in making Maricopa County a better place. The status quo is not good enough and we are going to continue to improve our customer service and regulatory processes.” County Manager Tom Manos said the county has made a commitment to do similar regulatory reviews for all county departments. “This is just the first,” he said.

Supervisor Clint Hickman, who had called for and helped adopt a countywide moratorium on new regulations last year, endorsed the process. “We are taking our existing rules and regulations and try to streamline them,” he said.

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Eliminate early and redundant zoning and drainage plan reviews. “This eliminates some of the unnecessary burdens,” Planning Director Debra Stark explained. “If they get the entitlement, they have to do it (the detailed plan) anyway.”
  • Create a single, simplified document containing subdivision regulations and guidelines.
  • Increase public outreach and educational workshops.
  • Bring certain drainage regulations into greater conformity with cities and other jurisdictions, while maintaining safety standards.
  • Use to a greater extent a customer survey to obtain feedback.
  • Reorganize certain planning operations to allow more “one-stop shop” opportunities for applicants.
  • Improve coordination and collaboration.

Many of the recommendations have already been implemented by the planning department, while others are being reviewed for implementation.

“We are breaking new ground here,” Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said. Both she and Supervisor Andy Kunasek complimented staff for working with the task force, even suggesting many of the specific recommendations. “This is a good example of the regulators and the regulated getting together,” Kunasek said.

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