The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved creation of a new Department of City Planning & Development.

Councilmembers Mitchell Englander and Paul Krekorian first proposed consolidating the planning department with building and safety in January. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa brought up the idea again during his budget message last month.

The new department also is expected to take over certain planning and permitting functions now handled by other departments, such as transportation and housing. City staff will spend the next six months studying how to do the consolidation, with goal of having the new department operational by January. Selection of its head is expected to be made by Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti after he takes office next month.

“In survey after survey, year after year, the City of Los Angeles has been described as the region's ‘least business friendly city,’” Englander said in a statement. “It is imperative that we restructure our building process to promote growth and job creation.”

The council also gave initial approval to a $7.7 billion city budget, which with an increase in revenue will restore several services cut during the recession, such as returning city libraries to seven-day service, tree trimming and fixing several hundred miles of pavement throughout the city.