Eileen Fogarty, the director of planning and zoning for the city of Alexandria, Virginia and who also previously held a similar position in Santa Cruz, will return to California as the new director of planning and community development for the City of Santa Monica.

Fogarty, who has served in Alexandria since 2000, will assume her new position in Santa Monica Monday, September 25th.

She will replace the city’s interim planning and community development director Andy Agle, who has held the position since former director Suzanne Frick stepped down in March of last year to take a similar job in Long Beach.

While Fogarty acknowledged that it is “a huge move” to come to Santa Monica, she is excited about the opportunity and challenge that her new position will offer.

“I look forward to the opportunity to come to a city like Santa Monica where inclusiveness is valued and there is an established tradition of community involvement and commitment to livability and quality of life,” Fogarty said.

Serving as the director of planning and zoning in Alexandria has been a “great experience” with many challenges for Fogarty, but the new job in Santa Monica “seemed to be a very good fit,” she said.

Fogarty has 23 years of planning director experience working in the cities of Alexandria, Santa Cruz and Annapolis, Maryland.

With her position in Santa Monica, she will direct a staff of 114 with an annual budget of $20.3 million. In addition to planning and zoning issues, Fogarty’s responsibilities will include transportation and traffic, building permits and inspections, and historic preservation.

Fogarty is considered a “turn-around specialist” with a proven track record in community outreach, resolving conflicts and building consensus, Santa Monica city officials said.

She was selected for the Santa Monica job from a nationwide search conducted by the Mills Group, the same firm that helped select city manager Lamont Ewell.

“I am very impressed with Ms. Fogarty’s success in redesigning processes and in bringing together the residential and development communities in each city she’s worked in,” Ewell said. “She brings a wealth of knowledge in areas of real concern to Santa Monica, including smart growth, green technology, comprehensive planning, preservation and affordable housing.”

Alexandria city officials also praised Fogarty for her contributions during her tenure.

“Eileen’s strong commitment to building community partnerships has set a new standard for leadership in the critical field of planning for our unique city,” Alexandria Mayor William Euille said. “Alexandria will be forever appreciative of the many contributions she made in reforming our planning process and reshaping our city.”

The historic city of Alexandria is near Washington, D.C. and — with a population of about 138,000 — is a larger city than Santa Monica, but Fogarty said the two cities are alike in many ways.

“They’re both highly desirable places to live and in each case they are the jewel in a larger metropolitan area,” she said.

While in Alexandria, Fogarty primarily handled issues related to development, planning, zoning and community outreach.

But a main difference in Santa Monica is that the planning director job ties land use and transportation together, she said.

Fogarty said her immediate goals as Santa Monica’s new planning director will be to meet with residents and businesses in the community to learn what their expectations are of the department and city.

She also plans to meet with planning and community development department staff to determine their needs.

Fogarty is an American Planning Association (APA) award winner in California, Maryland and Virginia. She won the APA Virginia Chapter Award of Excellence in 2003 and the APA Greater Washington Chapter Award for Housing Choice in 2005.

Aside from her professional goals, Fogarty, who enjoys the outdoors, says she is excited to be back in California where she earlier spent 11 years.