Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin Tuesday announced the establishment of a Blue Ribbon Task Force to monitor the implementation of an initiative to promote local job creation by making City Hall more business-friendly.

The Task Force held its first meeting today to discuss the City’s plans to streamline its development review processes and timelines for investors looking to bring high-quality projects to Fresno.

Upon taking office in January, 2009, Mayor Swearengin established the PIPES (Process Improvement and Permit Enhancement Strategy) initiative to address long-standing concerns about the City’s often lengthy and costly planning review process. Since PIPES was initiated, a backlog of 144 projects previously under review has been significantly reduced.

The City has also improved its tracking methods and created an on-line tool for applicants to check the status of their projects throughout the process.

Other PIPES improvements to date include:

  • Completion of top to bottom review of City development processes
  • Identification of issues which have historically create bottlenecks, including outdated zoning codes, lack of clarity and consistency, and lack of active project management
  • Outlined a new, streamlined application process which speeds planning reviews and mitigates burdensome front-end costs

“For too long, economic development in our City has been hampered by unclear and inconsistent rules and processes,” Mayor Swearengin said. “PIPES is an important first step to making Fresno much more business-friendly, which in turn will create significantly better conditions for job creation in our City.” 

“Without a system of transparency and predictability in our planning environment, we will never achieve the level of economic development we need for Fresno to reach its full potential,” Mayor Swearengin said.

The PIPES Blue Ribbon Task Force includes representatives from the business and economic development organizations, building industry, local agencies, and City of Fresno, among others.

The Task Force will meet to review PIPES processes and ensure full implementation within 60 days. The Task Force will continue to monitor the effectiveness of PIPES, provide accountability, and make additional recommendations as needed.