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City of Sonoma hires new Community Development Director 

Posted on June 9, 2023 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The City of Sonoma has appointment of Jennifer M. Gates, AICP as Community Development Director, a new management position that will oversee planning, building, sustainability, housing and code enforcement.

Gates brings over 18 years of diverse government experience with a focus on planning and  historic preservation. Most recently, she was the County of Marin’s strategic projects manager where she worked to implement  performance management measures, a new electronic agenda management system and a comprehensive fee update. 

Also on the resume: Planning Manager of Policy and Housing at the City of Encinitas, where she was responsible for the development of implementation policy including SB 9, objective design standards, expedited permit process  for housing developments, cannabis regulations, and short-term rental regulations. She also coordinated the development of the City of Encinitas’ Sixth Cycle Housing Element, which is now being implemented.

“We are thrilled  to have Jennifer Gates join our team,” said City Manager David Guhin. “Her impressive background and expertise will be instrumental in guiding our city’s growth and development in a creative, inclusive and  sustainable manner. We look forward to working with her to realize the goals for a bright future in the City of  Sonoma.”

Gates assumes her new role on June 22 at an annual salary of $162,076.

She is charged with unifying several departments under the Community Development umbrella. The new structure aims to streamline operations and services for the public and the development community, while strengthening communication with staff across her departments. She will build and shape this newly formed department and oversee a budget of  approximately $1.8 million

“I am fortunate to live in Sonoma and am grateful and excited for the opportunity to serve in  this new role,” Gates said. “I’m eager to collaborate with staff, residents, businesses, and local organizations to ensure  responsible and community-driven development practices that preserve the city’s unique historic character while meeting the evolving needs of our community.” 

Gates earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, before completing two master’s degrees in City Planning and Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. She is a certified planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners. 

Gates relocated to Sonoma last year. She enjoys exploring new hiking trails with her dog Gatsby and visiting the historic sites and wineries in the area. 




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