News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 11/24/2010
Subject :

City to Adjust Development Center Hours to Reinvent Work Processes
Contact : Thomas J. Fehrenbach, Economic Development Manager    650-329-2604
Larry I. Perlin, Larry I. Perlin    650-329-2550
Palo Alto, CA – Beginning December 1, 2010, the City of Palo Alto will open the Development Center (DC), located at 285 Hamilton Avenue across from City Hall, at 1:00 P.M. on Wednesdays. Currently the DC opens at 9:00 A.M. on Wednesdays, an hour later than on other business days. The extended Wednesday morning closures are designed to create dedicated time for City staff to work on the Development Center Customer Service (Blueprint) Initiative, to be implemented in 2011. 

The adjusted schedule was thoroughly vetted through the DC Blueprint's Customer Advisory Group. This group of community and business customers who regularly use the Development Center, (for the list of members, visit, as well as the City’s Staff Action Team and Staff Steering Committees, agreed that a limited closure of the DC is necessary to support the Blueprint Initiative and that Wednesday mornings are the best time to do it. This temporary change in DC hours of operation will afford staff the necessary time to design and implement structural changes that will promote increased operational efficiency and customer service at the DC. To minimize inconveniences that may be caused by the Wednesday morning closures, submittals for new projects will be allowed on Wednesday afternoons. 

The new hours for the Development Center, effective December 1, 2010, are as follows:

Weekdays (except Wednesdays):
·            Open 8:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.
·            Closed Noon – 1:00 P.M.

·            Open 1 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

"The decision to adjust the hours at the Development Center for the next few months was supported by both staff and the Customer Advisory Group working on the Blueprint Initiative. Everyone recognizes that key DC staff needs to be able to dedicate time to focus on developing and implementing the design improvements that will benefit customers at the DC," said City Manager James Keene.  “It is part of our overall strategy to make changes to the way we do business in Palo Alto and make the development process more predictable and responsive.”

The Development Center, which opened in 1999, was designed to be a one-stop location for residents, businesses, architects, builders and developers to obtain information, permits and other approvals necessary for their building and development projects in Palo Alto. Staff from the City’s Building and Planning divisions as well as from the Fire, Public Works and Utilities departments each review various aspects of these projects for compliance with applicable codes, regulations and ordinances that span from historical preservation to hazardous material storage and handling to energy and water conservation.   

In recent years, this multi-faceted, inter-departmental process has caused project delays and generated customer complaints. As a result, in July 2010, City Manager Keene launched an effort, the Blueprint for a New Development Center, to redesign the customer experience at the Development Center. By October, the project Charter was in place. City staff, leadership, and customer teams were then established to design and implement structural changes to improve efficiency and enhance the customer experience at the DC. The initiative will be fully implemented by September 2011. 

The City Manager’s key objectives for the DC Blueprint project include:

  • Creating a better customer service culture where there is predictability, clear standards, and a performance measurement program in place to evaluate service delivery and assess customer satisfaction.
  • Improving the organizational efficiency at the Development Center and associated processes to minimize costs and delays to customers.
  • Maintaining or enhancing community sustainability and economic development goals and objectives through DC activities.

“This operational change represents a significant step forward towards implementing the wholesale improvements the development community is looking for in Palo Alto,” said John Barton, Chair of the DC Customer Advisory Group.

For more information about Development Center Blueprint Customer Service Initiative, visit