New city department aims to improve efficiency of development in Lynnwood

The beginning of parking garage construction at the Lynnwood Transit Center, as seen last October looking north from the Interurban Trail. (Photo by Teresa Wippel)

With a host of construction projects underway — and more to come — the City of Lynnwood recently announced the creation of a new department aimed at improving the efficiency of development in the city.

Lynnwood’s new Department of Development and Business Services (DBS) combined city services previously provided by community development, economic development, the fire marshal’s office, and public works development services. Creation of the new department was three years in the making and in response to complaints from developers about the city’s permitting process.

“We started benchmarking (customer complaints) a number of years ago and the (positive) numbers were not very high,” said DBS Director David Kleitsch. “That prompted a need to look at how we did business.”

For years, Lynnwood has been positioning itself as the next big area for regional growth, and developers have been flocking to the city to stake their claim before the arrival of Sound Transit’s light rail expansion project in 2024.

At its Dec. 14 business meeting, the Lynnwood City Council adopted an ordinance approving the creation of the new department and appointing Kleitsch as its first director. According to Mayor Nicola Smith, Kleitsch was instrumental in creating the city’s new department.

DBS Director David Kleitsch

“His leadership has been demonstrated to the public and to council throughout this process,” she said.

When Lynnwood’s designated regional growth center — including the City Center district — began to take shape in 2017, Mayor Smith directed the city to conduct an efficiency study that assessed how staff conducted business. Two years later, the city hired the Sammamish-based consulting firm Strategica to conduct the study. 

“We’ve done efficiency studies on every department — the courts, the police, the fire and administrative services,” Kleitsch said. “(The studies) are a matter of basically improving process improvements citywide.”

During the study, Kleitsch said consultants conducted a thorough review of Lynnwood’s processes for permitting, planning review and other related functions to see how efficient they were, identifying areas that need improvement. They also interviewed city staff, some customers and looked at customer satisfaction data. After the review, consultants helped develop a strategic plan and a mission statement for the future department.

“They helped structure how the department would look, who should go where, figured out staffing and (other) needed resources,” Kleitsch said.

While several industries were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, construction of major projects continued in Lynnwood, including the Kinect @ Lynnwood housing development on Alderwood Mall Boulevard and the mixed-use development Avalon Alderwood at Alderwood Mall.

DBS is funded by the collective resources of the former departments and was included in the city’s 2021-22 biennium budget. Strategica also recommended the department hire nine more staff members, most of which would be needed for planning review. Due to the city’s pandemic-related cost-cutting measures, Kleitsch said the city will wait before filling all of the positions. Instead, he said they will hire the staff in phases on an as-needed basis.

“If we don’t need them, we won’t fill them, but the way our workload is going I don’t see that we don’t need them,” he said.

Recently, Mayor Smith projected that major construction would be underway across the city until 2024. To learn more about current and future major projects in Lynnwood, visit the city’s website. To learn more about DBS, visit the department website.

–By Cody Sexton

  1. Is lynnwood planning to have more affordable housing for renters due to rent is way to high for single young adults to live according to minimum wage young people shouldn’t have to find room mates to rent since millennium rent has gone to high admin fees etc fees never done in the past I helped my daughter it cost 2000.00 with rent and application fees first month rental now she lives at home at 37 she can’t afford to move out on own renting we need rent control

  2. OH are you taking about the housing plan that is going to bring in more of those UGLY apartment style housing units to our residential areas? You know the kind of housing plan that force people to into renting for the rest of their life! Did I mention how ugly they are!!!!!!!!

    1. Monday: 02/22/2021

      Hi Sherryl

      Your Wrote your Comment at 07:10 Am – Wow! you Woke up in a Bad Mood!! Hope your Sleeping well?

      While the Apartments are not Architectural {Wow! I had to Go to my LARGE PRINT Dictionary to Spell Architectural} works of Art. They are Functional and a Couple are Visually Compelling.

      Most New Lynnwood Residents in the Next few years will Reside in the Existing & Newer Apartment Buildings.
      You will have lots of New Neighbors. This is Good News, as New Residents Increase Lynnwood’s Tax Base and will Help Lynnwood’s Pandemic Injured Business’s Rebound. Yes! New Residents of any Age spend a few $$’s when they move and settle in.

      Many of the New Residents are Retired and Classed as Elderly. Like yourself they probably don’t sleep well.
      Maybe you can start a ZOOM Group for Sleep Deprived & Coffee Hungry New Residents.

      OK Sherryl! The Residents of those Apartments are your Neighbors Act Accordingly.

      Cordially

      Mike

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