Calling him an advocate of community growth and development, Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis Tuesday named acting Planning and Zoning Director Allen C. Johnson to the job permanently.

Johnson was appointed following a national search for a new head of the planning office, a division under the city's Development Services Department, vacated in December 1987 by retiring planning chief Vernon Jorgensen.DePaulis said community master planning is a crucial issue the city faces and called Johnson "an advocate for the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team, urban design and solid master planning in the downtown area."

R/UDAT is a group of planners who visited Salt Lake City to study its ailing downtown and make more than 80 recommendations for downtown redevelopment.

Johnson is committed to becoming a "springboard for downtown planning activities," DePaulis said.

Consensus building among varied interests in the city and their reaction to the city's planning "vision" is the most crucial planning issue facing the city, Johnson told the Deseret News Tuesday.

"I think it's the visionary role that we need to address and we need to work with the community at large on long-range planning issues and further instill a feeling of consensus building," he said. The downtown planning process and maintaining an "ongoing, hopefully, never-ending" interest in R/UDAT are some of the important visions the city must foster, Johnson said, adding that neighborhood concerns must also be addressed.

Speaking on the city's general condition, Johnson said "we're in a relatively good position, but that's not good enough. We're not going to maintain the status quo."

Development, especially in the downtown area, "will really concentrate on people," Johnson said. In the past, development has concentrated too much on physical facilities in the downtown area. Over concentration on the automobile, for example, has skewed development in the downtown area, he said.

Johnson's annual salary range as planning director is $41,472 to $58,032, according to the city's Human Resource Management Office. His appointment is not subject to the advice and consent of the City Council.

Johnson has more than 24 years planning experience in Salt Lake City, serving as Deputy Planning Director from 1978 until his appointment as acting director in 1987.

As a city planner from 1972 to 1978, Johnson said he supervised the city's first long-range planning office. In 1973 Johnson prepared the city's three-year planning program which made the city eligible for federal funding, he said.

Johnson was also a planning technician for the city after graduating from the University of Utah with a bachelor's and master's degree in geography/urban studies.

A review panel selected four finalists for the post in mid-August. DePaulis and the city Planning Commission interviewed the final candidates before the mayor announced his decision.