The Santa Barbara City Council announced the appointment of Elias Isaacson as Santa Barbara’s new community development director on Tuesday.
Selected in a national recruitment process, Mr. Isaacson currently serves as the planning and land use director for the city of Santa Fe.
In his new role with the city of Santa Barbara, he will oversee planning and development services, building and safety, and housing and human services. He joins 77 city employees in the department with a budget of $16 million.
City Administrator Paul Casey said the city of Santa Barbara was impressed with Mr. Isaacson’s experience of working in a community with similar concerns to those of Santa Barbara: historical preservation, land use, tourism and housing costs. He added that Mr. Isaacson’s experience as an architect and his work in historical preservation bring valuable skills to the job.
Mr. Isaacson joined the city of Santa Fe in 2018 and led its Planning and Land Use Department since 2019. He managed 65 employees and implemented the city’s land use, development and growth management policies. As the planning and land use director, he streamlined internal procedures and adopted innovative practices and policies despite budget constraints.
“Elias will bring the experience and design background that are needed to move the department forward during this pivotal time. I’m confident that he will be a great addition to our leadership team,” Mr. Casey said in a news release.
In addition, Mr. Isaacson served as planning and land use director and interim city manager for the city of Espanola in Mexico, where he managed the drafting and implementation of a new comprehensive plan and land use code revision. Prior to his municipal service, the new director started a real estate development consulting firm, performing work in the U.S. and abroad.
He also has experience working with an architecture firm preparing design and construction documents for the restoration of historic residential properties.
Mr. Isaacson earned his bachelor’s degree in geography at the University of Wisconsin, his master’s in urban design and development at the University of Pennsylvania and his master’s in architecture at the University of New Mexico. He is a member of the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Architects.
Mr. Isaacson said in the news release, “I am very excited to join the great team at the city of Santa Barbara, and I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”