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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.

2016-17 Goals/Objectives

  1. Ensure that the development of Enos Ranchos remains the Department’s highest priority project for review and approval of discretionary and ministerial permits, because upon completion, property and sales tax revenues for the City will be enhanced.
  2. Work with County agencies to assist with the development of H-2A housing on properties located within the County and near the City, and closer to the areas being farmed.
  3. Utilize a $20,000 grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation to conduct a Public Spaces workshop followed by implementation of the recommendations, and as part of the program, determine how the Santa Maria Arts Council can participate in providing public art.
  4. Utilize the Department’s involvement with the Chamber and Economic Development Commission to identify ways to improve the local economy and attract higher paying jobs.
  5. Ensure that the recently-adopted landscape conservation ordinance, pertaining to landscaping and irrigation, is implemented in consultation with other departments to achieve improved water conservation Citywide while maintaining desired aesthetics.
  6. Train Permit Tech staff on the administration/fee input portions of computer based permitting software (TRAKiT).  Cross train plans examiners to use software to calculate permit fees to speed up backend processing of permits, and to back fill counter staff as needed to serve the public.
  7. Introduce building codes on electronic media via tablets or another portable device to eliminate the need for carrying up to 15 code books per vehicle/inspector, subject to availability of funds.
  8. Lead an interdepartmental team in using stencils to paint addresses at selected commercial properties to proactively improve public safety responses.
  9. Seek and secure new grants and outside funding sources to address public safety, neighborhood revitalization and youth development needs in the community, including the need for more soccer facilities.
  10. In conjunction with Public Works and Recreation and Parks, identify City projects that could be assisted with CDBG capital funding.