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Paul Allred: Career Reflections & Valuable Advice

October 29, 2021 by admin

Having recently retired from the City of Holladay as Community Development Director, Paul Allred agreed to an interview with Michael Maloy (for APA Utah) on his impressive 32-year career in city planning—and we wanted to learn at least some of his “secrets of success!” Because of Paul’s generous response to our questions, this is the first of three articles to be published on Paul and his career throughout November 2021.


Thank you again, Paul, for your gracious, honest—and powerful—response to our invitation to share your story with us!

Where did you grow up?

Until age 10, I was raised in various places around the globe while my family was in the United States Air Force. I was born in Madrid, Spain, and then lived in Amarillo, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Incirlik, Turkey; Riverside, California; Limestone, Maine, and—finally—Burley, Idaho. I left on a mission for the Church of Jesus of Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to Spain in 1980. I have been blessed to have vivid memories from age 2 onward, and the places I lived impacted me tremendously—especially living in Turkey, where everything was so different and interesting. It’s hard to imagine a more interesting childhood than I had, and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

Where did you go to school, and what degree(s) did you receive?

I attended Brigham Young University (BYU) from 1983-86 and received a B.S. degree in Geography with an Urban Planning emphasis. I started graduate school at BYU in the fall of 1986 and completed most of my course work by spring 1987. I finished my M.S. degree in 1991 in Geography with an emphasis in Urban Planning and Public Administration.

How did you become a city planner?

A good friend and fellow student at BYU, Dave Dickey, was an intern for Sandy City while in grad school. He told me about an opening with the city for a code enforcement officer/planner. Economic conditions were difficult at that time, and I thought I should apply and see if the job was something I would want—or not—even though I was still in grad school. As it turned out, the city was anxious to offer me the job even though I was in the middle of my final exams. Although I had some misgivings about doing code enforcement, which I knew nothing about, I took the job at the fabulous salary of $17,000 per year! (I didn’t know much about planning either.) It ended up being a great experience with Sandy City—thanks to Mike Coulam, George Shaw, Gil Avellar, and others—and I am very glad I took the job.

Where have you worked, and for how long?

I worked for several communities, beginning as Planner and Code Enforcement Officer for Sandy City Community Development (1987-90), and then as Executive Director for the Salt Lake Association of Community Councils (1990-93), followed by Community Development Director for Centerville City (1993-2002). After a brief break from planning, I was hired as a CDBG Planner for Davis County (2004-05) and finally as Community Development Director for the City of Holladay (2005-2021).

What were your greatest successes? Or positive experiences?

I was very fortunate to have an interesting career in public service. I was never bored—in fact, the opposite! So many great experiences. In Sandy, I partnered with Salt Lake County Development Services Director Ken Jones to create a new organization for the training and support of Code Enforcement (CE) officials—the Utah Ordinance Compliance Association (UOCA). We formed UOCA hoping that standardized training and certification would give CE more robust support within city government. Whereas UOCA is still operating and assisting CE professionals in this most under-respected and difficult profession, I think it has been helpful.

Another success in Sandy was to re-work the sign ordinance to reduce (or eliminate) the proliferation of pole signs around the city. It ended up being a multi-year effort to work with sign companies and the chamber of commerce to write new regulations to eliminate pole signs over time and replace them with ground-mounted monument signs. I used this enriching and challenging experience as the basis for my successful master’s thesis.


In Centerville, a number of projects I was involved in were very rewarding. When I arrived in 1993, the city had little tax base and no definable identity. Shortly after I arrived, the City Council decided to create an attractive commercial entry into the community. At that time, other than a few small businesses at the interchange, there were only open agricultural fields. I was fortunate to be involved in creating what was then called a “power center” that included Target and Home Depot and other needed quality commercial businesses. It was a very complex and delicate dance to get all the moving parts to come together to make it happen. It also set the stage for other quality development within the area and redevelopment of the city’s existing westside Industrial Park immediately after that.


In 1999, I developed two successful grants: one from Envision Utah and the other from the Quality Growth Commission to study and plan a darling, innovative mixed-use town center just east of the power center and west of Main Street where, unfortunately, a Super Walmart now stands. We brought consultant Peter Calthorpe and his associates to present concepts to the community. Initial excitement and support from the Planning Commission and City Council, generated by a 36-hour trip to northern California to look at mixed-use developments and quaint downtowns, melted in the face of vigorous public opposition to the plan. I think of this as a “successful failure” as the effort changed my planning “DNA” and prepared me for what was to follow in my career.


In general, the effort to “raise the bar” became the city’s practice in subsequent years as similar efforts were embarked upon, such as to improve the image and mix of businesses on the west side of Interstate-15 where the city changed the name and standards of the area from “Industrial Park” to “Business Park.” The opposition to these changes was enormous by the owners in the area where most businesses were “smokestack” (manufacturing) type operations. The city stood firm, and by changing the mix of uses and increasing architectural and landscaping standards in this area, a new set of businesses began to locate there. The overall look and feel of this entire area within the city began to change. Without these changes, the current bustling west side of Centerville would not likely have occurred as well as it has. Subsequent administrations and planners (Cory Snyder) have vastly improved it even more.


The above article is the first of three to be published by APA Utah on

Paul Allred: Career Reflections & Valuable Advice

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