COB hires planning director: Vasquez leaving job as Garland assistant city manager - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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COB hires planning director: Vasquez leaving job as Garland assistant city manager

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Posted: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 9:30 pm

Rick Vasquez has been hired as the city of Brownsville’s new director of planning and redevelopment services — a new title for the city, reflecting a new priority in terms of land use and growth.

Vasquez, who starts Oct. 7, comes to Brownsville from Garland, where he serves as assistant city manager. He brings over 25 years of experience in municipal and utility management, transportation system planning, economic development, public policy, urban planning, housing development and real estate, according to Brownsville city officials.

Vasquez will lead the implementation of the Unified Development Code that Brownsville is undertaking and amendments to the city’s code ordinances over the coming year. He has previously led planning and development departments for the cities of Garland, Galveston and South Padre Island, with a background in land use planning and special districts, such as entertainment districts.

Vasquez holds a BA from the University of Texas-San Antonio and a master’s degree in urban planning from Texas A&M University.

The department he’ll lead — the title of which now specifies “redevelopment” as opposed to mere “development “ — points to a new focus for the city, said City Manager Noel Bernal. In addition to its role of overseeing traditional green-field development, the department will also prioritize “infill,” or redeveloping vacant properties downtown that may or may not have been developed in the past, but which are idle now at any rate since the city has grown beyond downtown, he said.

Bernal said the city has hired a consultant to help with the code revamp but also needs someone on the inside who understands the nuts and bolts of such an undertaking, as well as the connection between land use and growth planning, a very specialized field. He thinks Vasquez is that person, someone who not only understands the technical aspect but is able to “bring code staff along” in the process, Bernal said.

“Those are the skills sets that somebody needs to have already, to understand how to implement this,” he said.

Bernal said it’s rare for a city to completely overhaul its planning function, though in light of Brownsville’s outdated and sometimes contradictory code ordinances, the action is warranted.

“These are once-in-a-career type of efforts,” he said. “These are not done every day, not as comprehensive as what we’re going to do here.”

sclark@brownsvilleherald.com

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