Jason DeLorenzo has had a versatile career in very different if related fields: he was for many years the government affairs director of the Flagler Home Builders Association. He remained so as he served five years as a Palm Coast City Council member, when he was the traditionally gray council’s youngest and only member with a school-age child.
Three years ago he was appointed director of Palm Coast’s development division, in time to steer the city through its latest housing boom, and its first since the crash of 2007: his office has overseen 3,457 single family and duplex permit applications since January 2021 and July 2022, an average of 182 permits a month.
Along the way, DeLorenzo has made his mark as a deliberate and candid member of City Manager Denise Bevan’s top administration. He’s seemingly impossible to ruffle even under trying circumstances, as when he led the negotiations for a renewal of the Green Lion restaurant’s lease at Palm Harbor Golf Course. That effort was derailed more by unexpected late-minute council demands than any detectable administrative missteps. The city is now collecting bids for a replacement restaurant.
DeLorenzo, along with City Attorney Neysa Borkert, also shepherded the city through negotiations with other local governments and the school board on a joint agreement controlling the intersection of growth and school construction. That agreement is reaching completion. DeLorenzo was largely instrumental in reconfiguring the development division along more business-friendly lines, and bridged several economic development initiatives with city regulatory requirements.
In the words of a city release, “He has been instrumental in streamlining the permitting processes, strengthening relationships with stakeholders, fostering a culture of customer service, focusing on the workplace environment while reinforcing the importance of the team, and supporting empowerment and growth of leadership within his department.” He also projects an unusual, earnest enjoyment of the job itself.
“Jason has really prospered and brought a lot of successes to the Community Development department through his team and taken on numerous initiatives,” Bevan said, “including the business friendly priority set by city council.”
This week, Bevan rewarded that record by elevating DeLorenzo to chief of staff, making him the Number 3 person in the city’s hierarchy, behind Bevan and Assistant City Manager Lauren Johnston. Bevan made the announcement to applause at the end of the City Council meeting on Tuesday. Bevan also referred to strengthening the city’s succession plans, a hint that DeLorenzo’s trajectory may not be over.
“Jason is a tremendous asset to this organization,” Bevan said. “He has consistently delivered positive improvements not only through a strong focus on customer service but also by strengthening relationships with business and community stakeholders. I believe these successes are a direct reflection of his thoughtful attention to his team and the needs of the community.”
It’s a promotion in title and responsibilities, but not in pay. DeLorenzo will continue to head the Community Development Department, with Ray Tyner as the deputy. He’ll be in charge of developing and overseeing the council’s legislating priorities. He’ll be overseeing the economic development division, which the city intends to staff with two people to be hired soon (other than DeLorenzo), and will also oversee parks and recreations. For all that, his pay will remain what it’s been, at least for now: $124,000 a year (up from $104,000 when he started three years ago).
“Ms. Bevan has placed a lot of confidence in me since she became interim city manager,” DeLorenzo said, referring to Bevan’s appointment as interim in June 2001; she was appointed permanent manager eight months later. “She’s given me more projects to handle, she’s integrated me into what she calls the chiefs’ meeting,” a sort of top-level cabinet, “to help with moving projects forward and to discuss the future of the organization itself.”
DeLorenzo, 51, studied Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is working on a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration. Other than his 10 years at the Flagler Homebuilders Association, he also worked for a year and a half as director of sales for the builder-development division of Southern Title, and as its government affairs liaison. He was in retail management before that. He’s lived in Palm Coast since 2004 (bought property here in 2000), is married to Rebecca DeLorenzo, a one-time chief executive of the now-defunct chamber of commerce, and they have a daughter.
While serving on the council, DeLorenzo, along with the late Frank Meeker, broke the council’s grey ceiling, bringing a more working family-oriented perspective to a panel customarily more oriented toward retiring than dynamic perspectives.
“I’ve spent the last ten years 100 percent engaged in this community through my work and civic involvement,” he said in a Live Interview in 2016, when he was attempting a run for the County Commission. “I’ve had the pleasure to serve on over a dozen boards or committees that shaped this beautiful place, including the Palm Coast City Council and Flagler County Futures Committee and I have a strong understanding of governmental accounting.”
He remains committed to the city: his work in the administration is not a stepping-stone, he said in an interview on Thursday. “I love working for the city. I love the city of Palm Coast,” he said. “We’re building our family here. Absolutely love it here.”