Jahnee Prince is named new Atlanta planning commissioner
By John Ruch
Jahnee Prince has been named Atlanta’s new commissioner of city planning after a seven-month vacancy.
She replaces Tim Keane, a visionary but controversial commissioner who left big shoes to fill and big concepts to carry out or leave behind. Prince has never led a big-city planning department but has an extensive insider background going back 25 years in government, private consulting and the development industry.
A resident of Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood, Prince will start the job at the Department of City Planning (DCP) on Sept. 26. Interim Commissioner Janide Sidifall will serve in the meantime.
“Jahnee Prince is a trusted planning executive known for community engagement and consensus building with deep roots within metro Atlanta communities,” said Mayor Andre Dickens in a Sept. 8 press release announcing his pick. “With major corporate expansions and Atlanta’s expanded influence in the arts, technology, finance and post-secondary education driving an increase in our population, Jahnee will be a valued partner working with neighborhood leaders and stakeholders to chart our course for inclusive, innovative and equitable city planning.”
“It is an honor to serve the city I chose as my home, and I look forward to working with the Administration, neighborhood organizations, the business community and everyone who will help ensure Atlanta is a city designed and planned for the future,” said Prince in the release.
Prince currently works at the law firm Parker Poe Adams and Bernstein as a non-attorney advisor to commercial real estate developers, solar power companies and others on meeting regulations and city and county long-term plans. Prior to starting that job last year, Prince served for two years as deputy director of DeKalb County’s Department of Planning and Sustainability.
She also has worked as director of community development and planning and zoning departments for the City of Fayetteville, senior transportation planner at the Atlanta Regional Commission, economic development manager for the City of Sandy Springs and vice president of policy and government affairs at the Council for Quality Growth, a Georgia development industry trade organization.
She holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from The Ohio State University.
Keane served as commissioner for more than six years under three mayors. A major accomplishment of his term was “The Atlanta City Design,” an expansive development vision for a greener, more equitable city that was published as a coffee table book. But some of his ambitious efforts – such as changing zoning for higher density and more affordability — stalled out amid intense political controversy. Routine work like rewriting the Tree Protection Ordinance also saw delays. Keane led DCP through the COVID-19 pandemic chaos, and a building boom during it, but also received continuing complaints about a cumbersome permitting process, which the department is already in the process of reforming.
Keane’s departure shortly after Dickens took office early this year caused anxiety among many observers as to what portions of his vision would remain and whether someone with political savvy would arrive to carry them out or discard them. Several neighborhood associations also called for a commissioner devoted to historic preservation.