Planning and Community Development

The Planning and Community Development Department provides networking opportunities and fosters professional development for department members through Cal Cities' educational and communication tools. It also serves as a technical and advisory resource to Cal Cities through its policy committee representatives. 

Subscribe to the Planning and Community Development Listserv to receive the latest updates and information.


Department Goals and Activities

Hone your skills as a planner or planning commissioner by participating in specially designed educational training, including the annual Planning Commissioners Academy, which includes sessions for both new and advanced commissioners and planning staff; professional-development focused webinars; and sessions on city issues at Cal Cities’ Annual Conference. Our members also engage in:


  • Work with Cal Cities as it advocates for the interest of cities on statewide issues that affect city planning matters by: 
  • Keeping abreast of breaking legislative developments through the CA Cities Advocate email newsletter, Western City magazine, legislative briefings and the Housing, Community and Economic Development Listserv.  
  • Join a policy committee; 
  • Participating in monthly department conference calls; and 
  • Working with your city manager and city council to respond to calls to action on planning-related legislation. 


  • Connect with your colleagues from throughout California to: 
  • Build professional relationships; 
  • Tap into planning trends and resources; 
  • Exchange best practices through the HCED Listserv; and 
  • Partner with professionals and other elected officials across other departments to improve local government. 
Department Officers
President - Joel Rojas, Development Services Director, San Juan Capistrano 
First Vice President - Debbie Chamberlain, Community Development Director, San Ramon
Second Vice President - Carlos Gomez Jr., Planning Commissioner, Pomona
Department Director* - Eric Nelson, Planning Commissioner, Dana Point
Immediate Past President - Ernie Schmidt, Planning Commissioner, Redwood City

*Department Director serves for a two-year term, beginning in even years.
Policy Committee Representatives

Appointed by the department president, each department has at least one representative on each of Cal Cities seven standing policy committees that can provide technical information to the committee as a whole to ensure that the department has a voice in the decision-making process, and make recommendations to the board of directors on legislative and policy issues.

Policy Committee Representatives

  • Community Services - Michael Smith, Principal Planner, Rancho Cucamonga
  • Environmental Quality - Eric Nelson, Planning Commissioner, Dana Point
  • Governance, Transparency, and Labor Relations - Gary Alpert, Planning Commissioner, San Ramon
  • Housing, Community, and Economic Development - Debbie Chamberlain, Community Dev. Director, San Ramon
  • Public Safety - Ernest Schmidt, Planning Commissioner, Redwood City
  • Revenue and Taxation - Joel Rojas, Dev. Services , San Juan Capistrano
  • Transportation, Communication, and Public Works - Omar Dadabhoy, Development Services Director, Aliso Viejo

For more information about the appointment process, please contact Meg Desmond.

Managing the Workforce During COVID Roundtable

October 21, 2021 11:00 AM


COVID-19 and its implications on the workforce continue to have troubling affects for many cities throughout California. From labor shortages, protecting workers, vaccine mandates, telework and return to work, navigating these challenges is creating a workforce that’s even more complex to manage. Human Resources Practitioners and all city leaders are being called upon to help support an agile work force that can continue to serve the community. 

Join us and your city colleagues for a Roundtable Discussion on Managing the Workforce during COVID-19 on Thursday, October 21 at 11 a.m. This is a great opportunity for you to discuss the issues you are facing with your peers.

Topics for discussion will include:

  • Addressing Labor Shortages
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates and Testing

Moderated by: LaTanya Bellow; Interim Deputy City Manager, City of Berkeley; Department Director and Immediate Past President, Cal Cities Personnel and Employee Relations Department

Roundtable conversations are member-driven. If you have topics or questions you’d like to discuss at this roundtable, let us know here

Roundtable Discussions are available as an exclusive member benefit and are open to Cal Cities member cities only. Discussions are member-driven and will not be recorded. For more information on Roundtable Discussions, please email Meghan McKelvey. For questions specific to registration, please contact Cal Cities’ Registrar, Megan Dunn.

Contact Staff

McKelvey, Meghan
Meghan McKelvey
Department and Member Services Manager
(916) 658-8253

Seals, Zach
Zachary Seals
Administrative Associate, Member Services
(916) 658-8204

Join a Listserv

Listservs are an easy way to share resources and information with other city officials about specific subject areas. Listservs are open to all Cal Cities member cities.