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David Martin Helps Grease the Wheels  

By Gene Williams
Staff Writer

April 20, 2011 -- With all of Santa Monica’s boards, commissions, departments and a slew of rules and regulations covering just about everything, David Martin knows that navigating City Hall can be an intimidating process.

That’s why he’s there to help. An assistant to the City Manager and a former Bayside District board member (predecessor of Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.), Martin is the person Downtown business people can turn to when they find themselves getting wrapped up in red tape.

“My role is to be an ombudsman to the community.” Martin says. “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.”

Working for City Manager Rod Gould gives him the ability to do just that. As Santa Monica’s Chief Executive Officer, the City Manager oversees 14 departments and has authority over everything from building and safety to public relations.

Gould’s management team keeps the engine of municipal government rolling and greases the wheels when it’s not, Martin says.

“At the City Manager’s office, we work with all the various departments, so when we see a pattern of problems emerging, we can take steps to correct it,” Martin says.

Because the job encompasses so many different areas, “you never know what’s going to come up,” Martin adds. “It’s different every day.”

Although Martin has only been in the position since January, he’s no stranger to Santa Monica and has 23 years of expertise as a facilitator in both the public and private sectors.

After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in urban and regional planning, Martin went to work for the City of Santa Monica in 1987. He helped plan projects including the Pico Streetscape and the Downtown Transit Mall and worked his way up to the position of Senior Planner before leaving the job in 1999.

Over the next decade, Martin worked for CIM Group – a private real estate development and management firm based in Hollywood – helping the company navigate the planning and permitting process for numerous projects from West Hollywood to Orange County.

At the same time, Martin served seven years as a Bayside District board member during discussions that led to the formation of Downtown’s Property Based Assessment District.

He returned to the City’s planning department in 2009 when staff was busy wrapping up the recent Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) which will serve as the blueprint to guide development and traffic management for the next 20 years. He helped put some finishing touches on the document before moving to the City Manager’s office in January 2011.

Having watched Santa Monica change over the past three decades, Martin says Downtown is in better shape than ever.

“I think it seems really strong,” Martin says. “We now have a very successful Promenade and Santa Monica Place, and it’s great that Downtown has stayed as healthy as it has. Not all cities have downtowns that are doing as well as ours.”

And with major projects such as the Expo Rail, Colorado Esplanade, the Village, Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square in the planning pipeline, the future looks even brighter, he says.

“What’s exciting is that we have a lot of projects coming up in the next few years that will create an even better connection between Downtown, Santa Monica Place and the Civic Center,” Martin says. “Everything is working together.”

Business people having problems navigating the City permitting process can contact Martin at


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