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Longtime Santa Maria Planning Commissioner Rodger Brown Honored After Resigning

Retired educator spent 18 years on the panel; applicants sought to fill vacancy

Rodger Brown was honored earlier this month for his many years of service on the Santa Maria Planning Commission. He stepped down after 18 years on the panel.
Rodger Brown was honored earlier this month for his many years of service on the Santa Maria Planning Commission. He stepped down after 18 years on the panel. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A longtime member of the Santa Maria Planning Commission was recognized for his service to the city following his resignation after spending nearly two decades on the panel.

Rodger Brown, 78, stepped down after 18 years on the panel, and the City Council recently honored him for his role, which spanned the city's greatest period of growth.

When he joined the commission in 1997, the community had a population of 72,400. The current population tops 102,080.

“It’s been a great place to live, and it’s been really interesting to see all the things that have happened,” he said during a City Council meeting earlier this month.

He moved to Santa Maria nearly 60 years ago when the city had 12,000 residents.

“Now, with 102,000, it just seems like an entirely different town, but it’s great place to live, and I want to thank all of you,” he added.

Brown retired in 1999 after 33 years teaching and coaching at Righetti High School where he also served as athletic director.

After retirement, he remained active in education as he was named athletic director to help start Pioneer Valley High School and create the stadium with artificial turf. 

Then-Councilman Larry Lavagnino suggested Brown considered serving on the Planning Commission as the future mayor’s nominee.

Lavagnino had one piece of advice: “Just don’t do anything to embarrass me,” Brown told Noozhawk.

“And I said, ‘Larry, I’ve never seen anybody embarrass you,” Brown added with a laugh.

After approximately two months off the panel, Brown was nominated by Councilman Bob Orach to serve from April 2013 until his resignation Nov. 18, 2015. 

Brown said his health prompted him to resign this fall with one year left on his term. He said he had missed more meetings in the past six months than he had in the previous years on the panel. 

“It was a very good experience,” he said. “I enjoyed it.”

The council adopted a resolution in honor of Brown’s more than 18 years of “devoted service," noting his "wise counsel has guided the development of numerous specific plans, annexations and updates to the General Plan."

Councilwoman Etta Waterfield formerly served on the Planning Commission for nine years, and said she enjoyed the time sitting alongside Brown.

Commission Chairman Robert Dickerson was joined by the remaining four members at the council meeting to show their support for Brown.

“I, and the other planning commissioners who are here this evening as well, just want to express our deep respect and what a pleasure it was to serve with Commissioner Brown,” Dickerson said. “His depth of knowledge, his good humor, he was never small, he was always someone you could look to for guidance. He was just been wonderful to work with.”

Brown’s length of time living Santa Maria meant he brought vital history to matters the commission considered, Dickerson said.

“He will truly be missed,” Dickerson added.

The city is taking applications through 5 p.m. Jan. 4 from people interested in serving on the Planning Commission, with applications available here

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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