City of Pacific Seeks Intern

The City of Pacific, Washington is seeking an intern to assist the City with a project involving the development of a business database for all local commercial and industrial businesses.  For more information please contact Jack Dodge, Community Development Director for the City of Pacific, at ( 253-929-1107) or see the project description below.

Description of Intern Job - 2-28-18

Additional Factors in Project Feasibility

Companies, especially those in real estate development, have developed comprehensive due diligence/feasibility processes to determine if a project is a go or no-go.

But even the best due diligence/feasibility processes we’ve seen lack an understanding of the ‘political’ elements impacting a project, which often results in one of two scenarios:

1. The company passes on a project in response to a perceived regulatory roadblock, which if investigated further might be easily navigated, or

2. The company proceeds with a project only to run into an ‘unexpected’ political change that threatens the entitlements they seek (e.g. moratoriums, more stringent regulations, emergency ordinances, etc.).

We’ve got solutions and here’s how we help:

  • Political & Regulatory Risk Assessments – We specialize in understanding local and state regulatory systems and we excel at researching local regulatory trends, past project results, changing political winds (example: is the no-growth neighborhood group running candidates to flip the local council/board?).  We can help your company assess the political and regulatory risks prior to your investment.
  • Reverse Engineering of Regulatory Roadblocks – Have you ever passed on a project because you ran into a single regulatory limitation that didn’t fit the project (e.g. allowed % of lot coverage was too low for your home designs)? We help companies assess regulatory roadblocks and design strategies that can change the red flag your seeing into a green light.
  • Maximizing the Project’s Value – What if you could get a little more density?  Shorten your approval by a few weeks?  Or reduce some of your project’s conditions?  We can help with that.  We understand the politics of negotiation, as well as the opportunities to speed up local regulatory processes, and we can assist you in maximizing your next project’s value.
  • Proactive Project Mine-Clearing – Developing relationships, seeking code interpretations, securing code amendments – are all efforts we can manage on your behalf prior to your next project moving forward.
  • Community Outreach – There’s nothing worse than thinking everything is going great only to go to hearing and have dozens of neighbors show up in opposition.  We are experienced at communicating with neighborhoods and adjacent landowners, and we can help your company manage long-term project risk by utilizing the opportunity to address concerns early in the process.

Want to learn more about how we can help your projects?  Contact us.

Is it Time to Draw a Line in the Sand?

Have you recently said or thought any of the following?  Enough!  Now what?  Don’t they get it?  Why can’t this be simple?  Is there no common sense?

You’re not alone.  Many businesses, communities and organizations are saying the same thing and saying it often.  But the one question not often asked is “how do I/we change it?”

Sonya Parker wrote, “I will no longer accept apologies from you.  I will only accept action.”

If you’re ready to explore the ‘how’ then your ready for our help.

We work with a wide range of clients from the real estate developer that needs to push forward stalled permits to a community that is ready to move beyond planning its vision to building its future to the organization that needs to set higher value goals to invigorate a declining and divesting membership.

Toyer Strategic Consulting understands the strategies and implementation necessary to push permits without being pushy, transform planning into project management and switch gears from goal setting to goals scored.  We are a company that focuses on action.

Are you ready to draw a line in the sand?

Chose Your Words Carefully

“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” – Confucius

Language is complex and ever changing. But at its root, language is about telling a story. Communicating events, expressing emotions and inviting imagination to visualize what you’re saying.

So, it’s no wonder the words we use can often make a situation better or worse. The following example from one of our past projects demonstrates the challenge and explains how we coach our clients in evaluating the emotional intensity of the words they are about to use.

A few years back one of our clients sent us an “FYI” email that they had been contacted by a reporter about one of their projects and they were planning to send a quick email to respond to questions the reporter had asked.

It was 2008 and development projects weren’t attracting positive headlines. We sensed that there may be more to the reporter’s inquiry and we called the client for more details.

The client brought us up to speed that they had been sent an email from a reporter and not feeling in any danger, our client had already written an email in response. Thankfully, the client hadn’t yet hit send. The following is a generalized and simplified version of the inquiry and my client’s response:

Reporter’s email:

I have received emails and calls from a few of your customers concerned about the changes in what your units are worth and how that is going to impact their ability to finance and close on their purchases. They are growing impatient and I am considering whether to do a story. What’s your reaction?

Opening of Client’s Draft Response:

We understand that some of our customers are angry and frustrated . . .

We’d heard enough from the client, it was time we intervened.

First, the reporter was baiting the client by suggesting he was only considering whether to do a story. The reporter was most certainly going to write a story, but wanted to see what my client might say in a low pressure, less formal situation. Second, had the client sent the email response unedited we are certain the reporter’s article would have taken on a different tone.

There is a big difference between the two characterizations. Concerned and impatient customers have questions. But, angry and frustrated customers have lawyers and grudges.

Why? There was a conflict between the reporter’s and the client’s emotional intensity expressed by the words in their statements.  The reporter’s question characterized the customers as “concerned” and “impatient.” However, our client’s response characterized the customers as “angry” and “frustrated.”

There is a big difference between the two characterizations. Concerned and impatient customers have questions. But, angry and frustrated customers have lawyers and grudges.

By changing the characterization of the customer’s emotion, our client had elevated the emotional intensity of the situation, which would have reshaped how readers might interpret the customer’s situation and relate it to their own experiences as customers themselves.

Further, our client would have given the reporter no choice but to write a story and at the same time, provided a new intensity and urgency for the story.   Finally, our client’s second paragraph of their statement – a succinct and thoughtful analysis of the customer’s concerns and examples how they were working with the customers – would have taken a backseat to the visual imagery the reader of the news story would associate with “angry and frustrated” customers.

Ultimately, we helped our client respond to the reporter and avoid elevating the intensity of the story.

To further demonstrate the importance of understanding the emotional intensity of words, here is an example illustrating the range of intensity that can be associated with the emotion of anger. Think about how each makes you feel and what circumstances you associate with them.

Basic Emotion:

Angry

Lower Intensity:

Upset, concerned

Elevated Intensity:

Irritated, Offended

Highest Intensity:

Enraged, Repulsed

If Growth Management is Chess. . .

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” – Sir John Lubbock

In chess the opportunity to trade moves is often a terrible strategy that will lead to playing into an opponent’s trap. Hence why chess draws comparisons to military strategy, focusing less on winning battles and more on winning wars.

Similarly, in dealing with Growth Management, the strategies of those developing projects need to be focused on their immediate moves, but to be truly successful they have to have a long game for how to win.

So what’s your next move?

Now that the development industry as a whole has suffered some major legal setbacks (see Snohomish County, et al v. Pollution Control Hearings Bd., et al, 92805-3) and residential developers/builders continue to cope with an ever shrinking building lands supply, as well as complex and changing regulation, businesses have to ask themselves some strategic questions:

  1. What’s the next fight for your business and how hard are you willing to fight to move a project forward?
  2. And, if you fight, what resources do you truly need?
  3. Are their opportunities in the coming years to stake out a claim to land that may be added to urban growth areas (UGAs) and then work within the forthcoming processes to play this to your favor?
  4. What gambles might your business be willing to take to maintain a pipeline of lot supply?

This is where we can help.

Toyer Strategic Consulting has been working on the battlefield where growth management policy and real estate development clash for the past 15 years.  We’ve helped companies (and a few communities) successfully address each of these key questions and implement a plan of action to accomplish the end goal(s).

From identifying opportunities in long range planning where companies may be able to move land into the UGAs to nuancing the politics and processes that shape local land use policy, we understand the positioning and preparation real estate businesses need to complete and win should they wish to get aggressive to sustain success.

Contact us for a free consultation today