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City of Boston Officially Launches New Planning Department

Mayor Michelle Wu today marked the first official day of the City of Boston’s new Planning Department. This is the first time in 70 years that Boston has had a Planning Department, restoring planning as a core function of City government. The majority of Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) staff have transitioned into jobs with the City of Boston and are now employees of the new Department. 

The establishment of the Planning Department is a major piece of Mayor Wu’s vision to transform planning and development in Boston, and complements other initiatives including a home rule petition to end urban renewal and establish a new mission focused on resilience, affordability, and equity; the establishment of the Planning Advisory Council; citywide zoning reform, including the “Squares + Streets” initiative to increase the availability of housing near transit, the modernization of the development review process and a design framework for guiding future development. 

“Our goal to make Boston a green and growing city depends on planning together for our brightest future,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “With our new Planning Department, we will be able to unlock a future for our City that truly centers Bostonians’ needs and brings communities together in making Boston home for generations to come.”

“I’m glad we could see the Mayor’s vision through and create a Planning Department for the City of Boston,” said Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison. “This was a tremendous effort led by dedicated and determined staff who focused on every detail to support our employees through this transition. I am excited to launch this new Department, which will shape the future of our great City, and ensure it is planned equitably, for years to come.”

The Planning Department is charged with developing comprehensive short and long term plans for Boston’s built environment, establishing a consistent and predictable zoning code for the city, advancing exceptional and inclusive design standards, providing predictability to guide development that is responsive to community needs, and planning for the effective use of public real estate. It is through these actions that the Department will address Bostons’ greatest challenges of resilience, affordability, and equity. The Planning Department will work to build trust with communities through transparent processes that embrace predictable and responsible growth.

The new Planning Department includes the divisions of planning & zoning, development review, urban design, and real estate, as well as support staff. Moving forward, the Planning Department budget will be reviewed through the City’s budget process, like all other City departments. Staff of the Department will support the BPDA Board, which will remain the City’s Planning Board, reviewing development projects, planning and zoning initiatives, and land acquisitions and dispositions. Planning Department staff will also support the other parts of the Planning Cabinet which includes the Boston Civic Design Commission, Zoning Commission and provide recommendations to the Zoning Board of Appeal.

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