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Community Development


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

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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.

Office hours

The Community Development Department office is staffed weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with counter hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. weekdays.

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

Community Development Links:

CommunityDevelopmentLARRY APPEL
Director of Community Development

City Phone: (805) 925-0951 ext. 2240
City Fax: (805) 928-7565

Education & Employment:

  • 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

Community Involvement:

  • 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 37 years
  • Children: Two
  • General interests: Scuba, long-distance bicycling, music, and photography

Description Of Responsibilities:

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."

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.

2015-16 Goals/Objectives


1. Finalize and implement updates to the Downtown Specific Plan as directed by the City Council, with a focus on reducing the complexity of permit processing to better assist landlords and merchants with priority processing for projects within the downtown area.
2. Utilizing the Director’s Development Advisory Council, work with members to address issues that impede development-related public service.
3. Restore public counter hours for the Planning and Building divisions back to the pre-recession hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. after staffing vacancies are backfilled in an effort to better serve the public.
4. Continue to process zoning ordinance amendments, including correcting and verifying the City’s zoning map in order to improve readability and to simplify rules and regulations.
5. Institute a new procedure to track approved development agreements and provide annual reports to the City Council, to ensure the development is in compliance with all agreement requirements.
6. Improve customer service in the Building Division by extending office hours, developing a mini conference/plan review space away from the public counter, and cross-train Building Inspectors with Permit Technicians to provide continuity of service.
7. Enhance customer service by providing an on-call Building Inspector or Plans Examiner for all hours that the public counter is open.
8. Continue to be an active and engaged member of the Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Commission while developing additional public and private partnerships.
9. Increase user-friendliness by continuing to improve the Department’s various electronic data collection tools, and improve public access to planning reports and other documents.
10. Expand upon the existing application-via-facsimile program to include online/e-mail permitting and processing, as well as identify methods to allow for inspection requests and field entry of inspection data.