110 S. Pine Street, No. 101
Santa Maria, CA 93458

The Community Development Department is responsible for the planning and building divisions functions. Staff reviews all residential, commercial and industrial projects in the City. The Planning Division writes and updates the City's General Plan and Specific Plans including the Downtown Specific Plan. Staff reviews all projects for zoning compliance, processes land division applications, and processes all environmental assessments and reports. The Building Division regulates building and associated construction activities to protect public health, safety and welfare pursuant to uniform construction codes governing land use and code enforcement. The staff's activities include building plan review and inspection during construction.

Reduced Office hours
Due to a reduction in staffing, as approved by the City Council on June 21, 2011, the Community Development Department’s counter hours are 9:00 a.m. - noon and 1:00-4:00 p.m. You may reach us by phone during business hours (8:00 a.m. - noon and 1:00-5:00 p.m.).

Additionally, over-the-counter permits will be processed and ready the following day.

photo of Larry Appel, Director of Community Development LARRY APPEL
Director of Community Development

City Phone: (805) 925-0951 x240
City Fax: (805) 928-7565


  • B.A. Environmental Studies (U.C. Santa Barbara)
  • A.S. Biology (Santa Barbara City College)
  • Certificate of Post-Graduate Education, Supervisory Skills (U.C. Extension)
  • Director, Community Development Department, City of Santa Maria
  • Acting Director, Development Services, El Dorado County
  • Deputy Director, Development Services - Planning, El Dorado County
  • Senior Planner, Planning and Development, County of Santa Barbara
  • Environmental Specialist, Senior Environmental Planner, and Supervising District Planner, County of Santa Barbara
  • Environmental Specialist, Interface Planning, Santa Barbara


  • Member, Allan Hancock College Concert Band
  • Member, Grace Baptist Church
  • Rancho Verde HOA, past Recording Secretary
  • El Camino Jr. High School, PTC past member


  • Marital status: Married 33 years
  • Children: Two
  • General interests: Scuba, long-distance bicycling, music, and photography


The Community Development Department Director is responsible for Current and Advance Planning, maintenance of the General Plan, Specific Plans, and Secretary to the Planning Commission. The Community Development Director is responsible for the Building Division which processes and checks all plans for compliance with the building codes, processes all building permits and inspects all buildings. The Community Development Director is also the "Environmental Officer," "Noise Control Officer," "Secretary to the Planning Commission," and "Zoning Administrator."

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Mission Statement
To plan for the orderly growth of the City, consistent with the goals and objectives of the community's General Plan, to process projects quickly and efficiently consistent with the public's interest and safety in mind, and to provide departmental services in a courteous and responsible manner.

2014-15 Goals/Objectives

  1. Complete the Downtown Specific Plan and Entrada Specific Plan updates to meet the interests and values of the community.
  2. Create a “Developers Advisory Council” to provide feedback and input to the Development Director on departmental policies and procedures that affect the development community.
  3. Evaluate zoning districts and propose amendments to the City Council in order to address current and future needs of the economy to foster job growth.
  4. Ensure that new development projects are of high quality with abundant drought tolerant landscaping, to implement the City Council’s goal of improved community aesthetics.
  5. Serve through the Chamber of Commerce as an active member of the Downtown Merchant’s Association to assist local merchants in drawing more customers to the downtown.
  6. Educate merchants and residents about community aesthetics and City ordinances, by deploying Planners to participate in the Commercial “Walk and Talk” program led by the Code Compliance staff.
  7. Continue to be an active and engaged member of the Santa Maria Valley Economic Development Commission while developing additional public/private partnerships.
  8. Working with the State, ensure that the mobile home maintenance inspection program continues, and distribute the mobile home reference booklet to all mobile home parks within the City.
  9. Assist the Utilities Department by implementing a Storm Water Management Plan adopted by the Regional Water Quality Control Board that will be used for plan check and inspection verification.
  10. Focus training for the three newest Building Inspectors to successfully pass the CASp (accessibility certification) exam so that the City is in full compliance with State regulations.