To: Commissioners, Housing Advisory Commission
From: Thomas Lord
Subject: 2018-2019 Housing Advisory Commission Strategic Work Plan
Date: May 3, 2018


Recommendation: That the HAC discuss, amend, and adopt the work plan format and process described below.

Work Plan Format

In July of 2016, Berkeley City Council passed a resolution directing most commissions, including the Housing Advisory Commission, to prepare an annual work plan containing certain specified elements. The work plan format described here implements this direction from council in a straightforward way.1

Two HAC-specific additions are proposed to the format required by City Council. First, each commission objective in the plan will be associated with specific Lead Commissioners who volunteer to lead the work on that objective. Second, each objective will have an initial associated schedule, describing when intermediate milestones and completion are anticipated. These additional work plan elements will aid the HAC in the coming year.

The proposed work plan format has three, inter-related parts. These are:

Work Plan Process

Time: a one day process

In June, the Commission will hold a 60 minute special meeting to begin work planning.

The special meeting will be immediately followed by a regular meeting. At the regular meeting, the first item on the action calendar will be the work plan. Up to approximately 60 additional minutes will be spent completing the work plan.

Purpose of the special meeting

During the special meeting, all proposed objectives will be combined to form a proposed work plan.

During round table discussion, that motion may be altered in ways that are described below.

At the end of the special meeting, we will have a draft motion for the work plan.

Purpose of the regular meeting

During the regular meeting, the work plan motion will be made and hopefully seconded, debated, and voted upon in the usual way. This will be the first action item.

After that vote, we will have most of a work plan!

To complete the job, we'll then work on a mission statement.

A copy of the work plan will be referred to City Council. If the work plan includes resource requests, those requests will be part of the referral to Council.

After the meeting: a living document

There are many old sayings which are variants on this concept:

No plan survives its first exposure to reality.

In other words, we plan in advance to prepare, but as we execute plans, inevitably, those plans change.

The work plan, especially its calendar of milestones, will serve us throughout the fiscal year as a guide to what we planned to do. As priorities change, dates shift, or new objectives emerge, the work plan can be suitably altered so that it always reflects our current best understanding of what we are trying to do.

At the end of the fiscal year, the work plan as it started and as it finished will be a tool for helping us evaluate how well we accomplished what we set out to accomplish.

What happens during the special meeting?

In advance of the special meeting, every commissioner or subcommittee with an idea for what to work on next year should write a memo describing that objective. A template is included below for such memos.

At the beginning of the special meeting, the work plan motion will simply be the combination of all of those proposed objectives. That is, if someone has written a memo naming some objective, X, then X will initially be part of the proposed work plan.

The Commission will hold a round table discussion to refine this motion. During this discussion, the proposed motion may be altered in any of the following ways:

What happens during the regular meeting?

Hopefully, after the special meeting, everyone will have signed up to co-lead what they most wish to work on, and will have added what they want to work on to the work plan.

Perhaps we will even be so lucky as to have identified objectives that can be combined and, in general, other ways to cooperate so that our individual efforts add up to more than just a sum of parts.

It is possible that we will be able to move and pass the work plan very quickly, or, we may wish to have debate and discuss amendments or substitute motions.

As the first action item of the evening I will move the work plan constructed during the special meeting. I hope that it will be seconded and voted upon. In contrast with our usual meeting guidelines, in case we have more to discuss, the Commission may spend up to about 60 minutes on the work plan.

As the second action item of the evening I will move the mission statement as an action with a blank. The Commission can use the debate period to agree upon a mission statement.

How to prepare (what you should do before the next meeting)

Commissioners should think about what they would like to accomplish on the HAC during fiscal year 2018-2019.

If you have an idea, especially something you yourself want to work on, write it up as an objective using the template included below. Descriptions do not need to be long: 1-3 pages as a guideline. Be sure to return your proposed objectives to the Commission Secretary in time for inclusion in the packet for the June meeting.

After you receive the June agenda packet, look over the objectives others have submitted to see if you have suggestions for them, or can spot ways to combine efforts and cooperate.

If you would like to draft a possible mission statement, put a memo with your proposal in the agenda packet.

Appendix: a template for proposed objectives

    To: Commissioners, Housing Advisory Commission     From: your name     Subject: Work plan objective: short name for the object     Date: June 7, 2018     one or two sentences describing the proposed objective     Output     what the planned activities will produce     Outcomes     intended short and long term effects     Activities     what kind of work is being proposed     Required Resources     if a resource request must be made to Council, note that     Lead Commissioner(s)     who will take the lead for moving the effort along?     Initial Schedule     identify major milestones and their initial target dates

Appendix: example objective

    To: Commissioners, Housing Advisory Commission     From: Thomas Lord     Subject: Work plan objective: Implementing measure U1 (2016)     Date: June 7, 2018     Implement the policy recommendations portion of     BMC 19.44.040(B)(10). This will implement new duties that     were created by the passage of Measure U1 in 2016.     Output     1. a schedule for publishing housing policy        recommendations     2. templates for proposing housing policies     3. meeting conventions for discussing and        handling proposed policies     Outcomes     Short term: To help ensure that the HAC complete the     responsibilities assigned to it in BMC 19.44.040(B)(10)     Long term: To develop documented practices for the     Commission that can be passed down to future Housing     Advisory Commissioners to adapt to their needs.     Activities     Develop a schedule, conventions, and templates for     the annual or bi-annual policy recommendations     called for by BMC 19.44.040(B)(10).     "conventions" means suggested meeting procedures     for developing the recommendations incrementally during     the course of the year.     "templates" means outlines of memos for the agenda     packet, meant to simplify and harmonize the work of     commissioners who are making proposals for the policy     recommendations.     Required Resources     n/a     Lead Commissioner(s)     Lord     Initial Schedule     July: present schedule, conventions, and templates for adoption     September: continued from July if necessary

Appendix: Planning matrix example

The work plan will include a summary of the proposed schedule in the form of a planning matrix.

Here is an example of a planning matrix. This comes from the City of Berkeley's Department of Planning and Development.

Two notes:

  1. This example is more complicated than the HAC's will need to be, but it helps to make the idea clear.

  2. This is a living document. If you ask the department for a copy of this matrix in a month, it may well have changed. The matrix is a tool the department uses to organize and keep track of what they are doing.

example planning matrix

example planning matrix


  1. HAC agenda, December 2017. (Note "future items".)

  2. 2016 City Council Item regarding commission work plans

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Copyright (C) 2018 Thomas Lord