Executive selects Pierce County planning director

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy has selected engineer Dennis Hanberg to lead the Department of Planning and Land Services.

Hanberg has worked as an environmental health specialist, land-use planning consultant, business owner, commercial property owner and planning director. He has 29 years of experience with two engineering firms, including roles as owner and managing partner.

“Dennis has the perfect blend of experience,” said McCarthy. “He has a deep understanding of planning and permits from the customer’s perspective. His work with PALS over the past two years has already resulted in significant changes that make the department more efficient and effective, even in the face of major budget cuts. I’m confident Dennis can reach the goal I set of creating the best permitting agency in Washington state.”

In 2010, Executive McCarthy hired Hanberg as a consultant to lead a study that resulted in the “Best Permitting Agency” strategic plan. He later was hired as a deputy director of the department, and he has served as interim director since last fall, when then-Director Chuck Kleeberg left for a job in Seattle.

“I appreciate the opportunity to keep working with Planning and Land Services staff and our customers to make the system more convenient and predictable,” Hanberg said. “We’ve made a number of improvements to our online system so that customers can apply for permits and track their progress. We also have streamlined the approval process and reduced the number of in-boxes that a permit application must pass through. More improvements are in the works.”

Hanberg will oversee a budget of $10.8 million and 76 employees. The department is responsible for reviewing building plans and applications, inspecting construction, enforcing building codes and ensuring compliance with federal and state requirements regarding growth management, shorelines and more.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the County Council.