Community Development Director

City of Santa Barbara, CA | Full-time


The Community

Santa Barbara is an international tourist and resort destination acclaimed for its idyllic year-round climate, renowned golf course, picturesque beaches, eclectic shops and boutiques, and rich Spanish colonial heritage. Known as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is situated between the Pacific Ocean and the scenic Santa Ynez Mountains. With an abundance of activities that will please the most discerning outdoor and indoor enthusiasts, the City of Santa Barbara is one of California’s best places to work and call home.

The community boasts unparalleled outdoor recreation opportunities, from sea kayaking through caves in the Channel Islands and whale watching in the nutrient-rich Pacific Ocean to hiking through the Santa Ynez Mountains. Located only 20 miles offshore, the Channel Islands and the surrounding marine sanctuary are home to hundreds of endemic plant and animal species. With more than six miles of beach and 1,800 acres of park land, it’s no wonder Santa Barbara is consistently lauded for its exceptional quality of life.

Visited by millions each year, Santa Barbara offers world-class wineries, dining, and accommodations. The City, known as a great destination for the entire family, is home to the Santa Barbara Zoo, Old Mission Santa Barbara, and the world-famous Stearns Wharf. The Santa Ynez Valley, with its breath-taking vistas, includes such notable attractions as Solvang and the Chumash Reservation. Santa Barbara is a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles or a short hop from any corner of the world via the Santa Barbara airport.

The community is well-educated, with nearly half of all residents over the age of 25 possessing a bachelor’s degree or higher. The University of California, Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College are among the nation’s top four-year universities and community colleges, respectively. Additionally, the Santa Barbara Unified School District is highly rated.

The Organization

The City of Santa Barbara operates under the council-manager form of government, wherein the elected City Council appoints a City Administrator to oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization. City Council is composed of a Mayor and six Council members, all of whom are elected to serve four-year terms in nonpartisan elections. Each member of Council is elected from one of the City’s six districts, while the Mayor is elected at-large.

Robust City services are provided by 14 departments, including Airport, City Administrator, City Attorney, Community Development, Finance, Fire, Human Resources, Information Technology, Library, Parks and Recreation, Police, Public Works, Sustainability and Resiliency, and Waterfront. Santa Barbara’s FY 2021 Operating Budget is approximately $139.6 million.

The Community Development Department

The Community Development Department is responsible for planning, building and safety, housing and human services, and related administrative functions for the City of Santa Barbara. The Planning Division manages long-range planning, zoning plan review, design review, development review, and zoning enforcement. The Building and Safety Division has three workgroups, including building inspections and enforcement, records and archives, and plan check and counter services. The Housing and Human Services Division is responsible for affordable housing preservation and development, homelessness initiatives, CDBG administration and other human services grants, rental housing mediation, and fair housing enforcement. The Department has 70 employees and an operations budget of approximately $15.6 million.

In response to recommendations on economic vitality, several improvement measures have been put forward to address various aspects of the City’s land development and construction business practices. These range from communications, permit facilitation, predictability, consistency, and various aspects of the plan review process. A consultant study looking at the internal approaches to the permitting process was completed and presented to City leadership.

On June 23, 2020, City Council established a Land Development Team (LDT) Oversight Subcommittee composed of three Council members. The purpose of the subcommittee is to work with the City’s Land Development Team staff to implement the recommended process improvements.

The Position

The Community Development Director reports to the City Administrator and plans, organizes, and oversees the programs, services, and operations of the Community Development Department, including planning, building, zoning, redevelopment, housing, and neighborhood preservation. The Director provides the vision and strategic leadership to improve organizational effectiveness while ensuring that all development meets established design, zoning, environmental, and building safety requirements.

The Community Development Director is an active member of the Executive Management leadership team. The Director leads the development and administration of the departmental budget, reviews budget proposals of division heads, and directs the preparation of reports on the budgetary and staffing requirements of proposed policies and projects.

The Director represents the Community Development Department before the City Council, commissions, and other governmental bodies on extremely controversial items. This person routinely presents Community Development policies, programs, and procedures to public officials and private agencies, community groups, and the general public. The Community Development Director consistently solicits community involvement in programs and initiatives. Keeping an eye to the community, the Director creates partnerships and engages with neighborhood organizations, architects, contractors, developers, and property owners. The Director also coordinates departmental activities and serves as liaison with federal, county, and local agencies that govern community development activities.

The Community Development Director formulates long-range strategic plans, develops departmental goals and performance measures, and effectively leads staff in the implementation of projects and programs. Through division managers, the Director oversees a wide variety of redevelopment programs and policies that meet community economic, demographic, and developmental needs. Leading by example, this key leader provides exemplary customer service to all individuals by demonstrating a willingness to be attentive, understanding, responsive, fair, courteous, and respectful and actively participates in maintaining a customer-focused environment.

The Priorities

  • Make the necessary time and effort to form and maintain excellent working relationships throughout the City, both internally and externally. Develop positive relationships and partnerships that embrace public participation and engagement.
  • Be a vocal advocate for all City staff, establish trust, and encourage collaboration to prioritize and execute identified goals.
  • Develop a unified vision and ensure divisional alignment. Through a commitment to continuous improvement, create a culture and environment that embraces change and customer service to meet the needs of the community.
  • Create and successfully implement a communications strategy. Provide clear and consistent information, update access to information, and develop tools for customers to successfully navigate processes with a strong emphasis on customer service and respect.
  • Encourage and set the tone for greater collaboration, identify opportunities for cross-divisional collaboration, and leverage the knowledge and power of the group to bring greater impact to initiatives.
  • Lead the effort to further develop the long-term vision for the State Street Promenade. Successfully collaborate to realize the possibilities and understand the interconnectedness while balancing the needs of the community.
  • Prioritize planning for recognized deficiencies in housing. Partner with the Housing Authority, City Council, and others to actively identify and determine the most effective opportunities to integrate a variety of housing options.

The Successful Candidate

With a strong commitment to innovation and service excellence, the Community Development Director is eager to lead the Department through this time of change and transformation. As a strategic thinker, the Director understands the big picture and clearly articulates a vision while honoring the legacy of Santa Barbara.

The successful candidate is a person of exceptional character, confident yet humble, and recognizes the importance of relationships and partnerships at all levels. As a diplomatic leader, the Community Development Director navigates political relationships with ease. This individual values diversity of thought, establishes a high level of trust, and enjoys being involved with an active and engaged community. Considered an excellent communicator, the Community Development Director is known for being open, honest, and transparent in all interactions. The ideal candidate maintains an understanding of the issues affecting the community and leverages that knowledge to drive decisions.

The Community Development Director possesses strong executive leadership skills necessary for managing a complex environment. The successful candidate demonstrates proven expertise in change management and has a reputation for implementing numerous process and system improvements that result in greater efficiencies, enhanced capacities, and improved service delivery. This person embraces technology and uses data to inform decision making. The Director brings a fresh yet experienced voice to Santa Barbara with a balanced approach to development. The ideal candidate has robust planning knowledge, prior experience in a coastal community, and appreciates our environment.

The Community Development Director genuinely encourages and supports collaboration and employs a leadership style that invites participation. This person creates opportunities and empowers staff to share information that provides a clear understanding of departmental programs and initiatives. The ideal candidate is fair, establishes clear expectations, and holds others accountable. An approachable leader, the Director sets the tone for the organization and promotes an environment where communication and customer service are highly valued.


Minimum requirements are a bachelor’s degree in public administration, civil engineering, or a related field and eight or more years of increasingly responsible experience in related planning, housing, redevelopment, building inspection, code enforcement, and related community services, including five years of supervisory and management experience. A master’s degree in urban planning, public administration, or a related field is preferred.

Applicants must also possess or obtain a valid Class C California driver’s license.


The salary range is $168,106 to $204,334, depending on qualifications. Benefits offered include the following:

  • Medical, dental, vision, life, short- and long-term disability insurance
  • Holiday, vacation, personal, sick, and management leave
  • Defined benefit pension plan through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS)
  • Monthly car allowance
  • Deferred Compensation (457) Savings Plan
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Flex work/telecommuting
  • The City is a member of the Coastal Housing Partnership which offers home loan assistance and rental reductions
  • The City will assist with a portion of the moving expenses and housing if the candidate needs to relocate to the Santa Barbara/South Coast region
  • Medical and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts
  • $1000 Annual Tuition Assistance

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. Please apply by November 1, 2020. 


Please direct questions to Heather Gantz at

Download Recruitment Brochure