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County leaders choose a new top planner 

After a rigorous search, San Luis Obispo County has chosen a new director for the Planning and Building Department.

Jim Bergman was offered the job after a seven-month search that had decision-makers sifting through about 100 candidates, according to Ken Tasseff, a personnel analyst in the county’s human resources department.

Bergman received a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Cal Poly and then worked for eight years in the city of Arroyo Grande’s planning department. Bergman left Arroyo Grande to become planning and building director of the town of Windsor in Sonoma County. He’s currently the same town’s community development director.

The previous director left in April, and Assistant Planning Director Kami Griffin has been filling in as acting director since then.

Bergman has already worked with one sitting county supervisor. Fourth District County Supervisor Caren Ray worked with him while Ray sat on Arroyo Grande’s planning commission and City Council.

“He was not just a planner, he was so deeply ingrained in our community, that it’s not like he was just sitting behind a desk the whole time,” Ray told New Times. “He was out working with service groups and out in the community in a very visible way.”

“His genuine love for this county and this community will just shine right through. It will be a boon to the department,” Ray said, adding that Bergman also has a particularly “deep understanding and appreciation for agriculture,” something that will be helpful in the county’s dynamic governmental landscape.

Bergman is expected to take the post sometime around the end of January.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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