One of the ways OpenCounter differentiates itself in the government technology space is the number of people on our team with deep experience in the public sector. After all, how can we hope to eliminate all of your biggest headaches when it comes to permitting and licensing if we haven’t experienced those same headaches ourselves, day in and day out?
Adding a new member to that deep bench of public sector professionals is one of the many reasons we’re excited to welcome Jeff Taylor to OpenCounter as our newest Project Manager.
Jeff came onboard at OpenCounter in January 2021, after three years of working as an assistant planner in municipal agencies in California and Washington. In that time, he gained an immense amount of code experience, rewrote zoning ordinances — and even created a completely new regulatory code after California legalized recreational cannabis in 2016.
“I really love doing a mix of current and long-range planning during a project,” Jeff said, “so helping to create the County of Lake’s new regulatory framework for cannabis cultivation is definitely a career highlight. It’s pretty rare when an entirely new industry is created and you’re asked to make a regulatory structure from nothing, so that project was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
And that kind of big-picture thinking has driven Jeff all of his life. After a childhood spent building PCs with his brother (you know, typical fun for a 10-year-old), Jeff headed to college for graphic design before another major claimed his interest.
“I wasn’t really loving my graphic design studies, and the seed was planted to switch over to urban planning after spending time studying abroad in China. One of my professors there was really passionate about the mission and mechanics of urban planning, and that quickly inspired me to pursue planning for the rest of my time at Arizona State.”
But changing course on his career path wasn’t enough for Jeff. He was also keen to see how urban planning worked outside of the U.S.
“After college, I wanted to take in other perspectives on planning, so I applied to grad school courses in Japan and China. I ended up heading to Kyoto University, where I got a Master of Engineering in urban management. It was an incredible experience living in Japan, and it helped me expand ideas of what was possible in urban planning, how cities could better serve their people and businesses. I highly recommend getting an international perspective to everyone.”
After returning to the U.S. in 2017, Jeff became an assistant planner at the County of Lake in California, before heading off to planning departments in the Cities of Renton and Redmond, Washington. And now, he’s landed at OpenCounter.
As part of our Government Services team, Jeff is working with public agencies all over the country to help make their municipal codes easier to understand for the general public. Through close collaboration with client teams, he unpacks thousands of pages of regulations to see how each city’s system works — and then translates those complex regulatory systems into a user-friendly experience in every OpenCounter product.
That’s a mighty tall order, but one Jeff is excited to tackle.
“After years of public service,” he told us, “I saw firsthand how government agencies are rarely given the tools they need to do just that — serve the public. And while I really enjoyed my time working the permitting counter and getting to help people every day, I know how much of a chore it is to track down a lot of complex info on the fly and how frustrated and let down constituents are by the entire process.
“So when I learned OpenCounter was out there trying to make the permitting process smoother, I was ecstatic and immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it. I love being here and knowing that the work I’m doing is making a difference for people by helping City Hall make their interactions with the public smoother — and a lot more positive.”
Glad to have you onboard, Jeff!