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David Martin Named Santa Monica Planning Director  

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By Ann K. Williams
Lookout Staff

September 2, 2011 -- After serving just over two months as Acting Planning Director, David Martin has been named Director of Santa Monica's Planning Department by City Manager Rod Gould.

Martin has worked his way up through the ranks of the city's planning bureacracy since 1987, with one detour to the private sector to help a Los Angeles real estate firm navigate the planning and permitting process for its projects. His appointment follows a nationwide search.

“David Martin has proven himself a skilled manager with a solid track record in municipal planning and land use experience in the City of Santa Monica and in the private sector in the region,” said Gould.

“He brings experience in planning system improvements focusing on service quality and community benefits,” Gould said. “He is known for a high level of team work and group spirit that I prize in the department and with the community.”

Some of Martin's accomplishments during his years in Santa Monica include his work on the Bayside District Specific Plan, the Pico Boulevard Streetscape, and the Downtown Transit Mall, as well helping craft the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).

“I am grateful to be working in Santa Monica as we begin implementing the LUCE and plan for the arrival of the Expo light rail line,” said Martin on the occasion of his promotion.

“I look forward to building on the collaborative relationships formed with our residents and the business community to implement the community's vision through sound land use and transportation decisions,” he said.

As Acting Planning Director – a post he assumed this June – Martin focused on the community benefits that are a key part of development agreements between the city and developers of large projects, benefits like affordable housing and traffic management systems. City officials call his approach to planning and enforcement issues “no-nonsense” and “professional.”

Before becoming Acting Planning Director, Martin served as an ombudsman in the City Manager's office, cutting through red tape and helping applicants navigate their way to successful completion of their projects.

“If someone is doing a project and they run into some kind of log jam or hold up, I can figure out what the problem is and move them forward,” he told The Lookout last April.

Deputy Planning Director from 2009 through early 2011, Martin was responsible for improvements to the department's development review process and the Building and Safety Division's permit review process.

Martin left the public sector for ten years, from 1999 to 2009, when he became Vice President of CIM Group, a Los Angeles real estate firm, where he oversaw the development review process for several mixed-use projects.

But even though he was working for a private firm, Martin stayed active in the Santa Monica scene, sitting on the Bayside District (now Downtown Santa Monica Inc.) Board from 2002-2009, serving as its chairperson from 2007-2009.

Martin first went to work for the City of Santa Monica after graduating from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona with a B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning in 1987. He was an Associate Planner from 1990 to 1995 and a Senior Planner from 1995 to 1999. During this time he also served as Zoning Administrator.

As Santa Monica Planning and Community Development Director, Martin will receive a base salary of $173,712 and will oversee a department that has 103 employees and an annual budget of $15.8 million. Martin and his wife Ann live in Santa Monica.

He steps into a position left vacant by former Planning Director Eileen Fogarty, who stepped down in June.

Known for her ability to forge strong community partnerships, Fogarty's most noteworthy accomplishment was the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) which will direct development in Santa Monica for decades to come.

“There is great talent within the Planning Department...and I believe the transition to new management will be smooth and efficient,” wrote Fogarty when she announced her retirement in March.

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