Boston City Hall

Boston’s new planning chief appealed to the real estate industry for help addressing a staffing shortage at City Hall, saying it would help developments get reviewed and approved more quickly.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency is seeking to fill more than 30 open positions from planners and community outreach specialists to senior leadership.

“We have a number of vacancies and there is no way we’re able to do all the change work and daily functions without people to do it,” said James Arthur Jemison II, who was appointed by Mayor Michelle Wu as the new planning chief as well as BPDA director. “We need your help filling those roles.”

The BPDA currently is reviewing 42 million square feet of development proposals, Jemison noted. The pipeline includes large mixed-use projects such as Dorchester Bay City, Fenway Corners and a pair of large mixed-use projects in Charlestown.

Jemison spoke to a forum sponsored by the commercial developers organization NAIOP Massachusetts on Tuesday about the administration’s plans to transform the city’s planning and permitting process.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Jemison said one of his top goals is to take recent neighborhood planning studies and codify them as zoning amendments. He said the goal is to make the permitting process more transparent and predictable, both for residents and developers.

Echoing remarks by Mayor Michelle Wu, Jemison said increasing social mobility will be a pillar of the BPDA’s approach to shaping development, including expanding the range of housing options.

The agency took a heavy-handed approach to urban renewal during its early years as Boston struggled to retain jobs amid the suburban migration, Jemison said. As Boston’s economy has grown and thrived in recent years, the regulatory environment needs to evolve for “an equitable pattern of growth in our city,” he said.

BPDA Asks Developers for Help with Staffing Crunch

by Steve Adams time to read: 1 min