Planning and Community Development Director Joseph Smith Resigns

Joseph Smith, AICP has announced that he is leaving his position as Planning and Community Development Director effective January 2022. Smith indicates in his resignation letter that he plans to pursue private consulting after 13 years in government positions. He added:


“I thank the City Council very much for the opportunity to have served as your Planning Director for the last couple of years. It has been quite the journey and honestly feels like a decade since I stepped back into City Hall. I’m also certain my hairline is receding at a rapid pace. But it was well worth it and I am very proud to have been part of your staff through the challenges we faced in 2020 and 2021.”


Smith also indicated that he will continue to work on finishing the 6th Cycle Housing Element and business parking plans while he remains in his position. The city has posted a recruitment advertisement for his position on



Sandpiper note: Del Mar has historically been able to attract strong professional staff, and Joseph Smith has been an excellent example of that pattern. We would note, however, that the city’s professional staff has been under serious strain this year. Normally, the Council meets twice a month in public sessions (usually 24 public meetings per year, or one less because of an August “recess,”) with a closed session beforehand when needed. This calendar year, under Mayor Gaasterland, the Council has already had (as of Oct. 20) 26 regular and special public meetings, generally held from 4:30 to 8:30 or even later; and 28 closed sessions.

These public and closed sessions have often involved housing issues, which have required many hours of advance work and meeting attendance by planning staff. In notable instances, the Council majority has not been willing to follow the professional staff’s recommendations on housing, generating additional work to implement the Council’s directions. Those who followed the Council’s tortuous and torturous path to eventual compliance with the 5th Cycle Housing Element and completion of the 6th Cycle Element could see the huge additional burden this placed on our professional staff this year. And a significant amount of work remains to get the 6th Cycle Element approved by the State. It is easy to understand why the private sector looks appealing.

The Sandpiper extends its thanks to Joseph Smith for his excellent work on behalf of our City, and wishes him all the best in his future endeavors. And we hope that our City can continue to attract professional staff of his caliber.