Preserving Santa Barbara County

Citizens Planning Association is a grassroots organization consisting of general members, committees, a board of directors and a support team.


Membership starts from $50 annually, $25 for a student. As a member you can make a difference in our community by volunteering for projects, committees, and/or special events. You can be involved as much or as little as you’d like or have the time to do so. To join us, please contact us through email or phone: click the Contact page.

Board of Directors

Marell Brooks, President

Marell Brooks recently completed a two-year stint as the 3rd District County Planning Commissioner, Supervisor Joan Hartmann appointment. That was preceded by a term as CPA president. She also served as Supervisor Doreen Farr’s planning commissioner. Marell has also served six years on the board of CPA as the Chair of the North County Land Use Committee, organizing monthly meetings and providing public comment on projects in the Lompoc Valley area. She also attended the EDC Energy Committee meetings as the CPA representative. Marell is a retired high school English teacher who worked in the public school system for 34 years. She and husband Chris have three grown children, one grandson, and recently welcomed a grand daughter to her family!

Betsy R. Cramer, Secretary

A Massachusetts native, a member of the California Bar, Betsy has thought of Santa Barbara as home since the 1960’s. With a BA in geology from Barnard College and graduate work in political science at Boston University, she is a graduate of the University of Santa Clara Law School. She worked as a community mediator in Massachusetts, with training by the Justice Center of Atlanta, Harvard Law School, and the Mass. AG’s office. In Santa Barbara: she was a member of the 1995-96 County Grand Jury; co-developed Santa Barbara City’s Resolution against pre-emptive / preventive war (2002); developed Louise Boucher’s favorite campaign signage blog (2005); co-created the energy awareness effort, Lights Out Santa Barbara (2007). A member of the Santa Barbara Harbor Commission since 2007, she’s been a member of CPA for more than 15 years.

Mary Louise Days, Treasurer

Mary Louise is a native Santa Barbaran and a fifth generation Californian. She has been associated with the Citizens Planning Association since March 1961, when she began employment with the City of Santa Barbara Planning Department. She retired in December 1996, after working in clerical, zoning administration, general plan preparation, Planning Commission case processing, historic ordinances and resources surveys. She is a professional Historian. Mary Louise received an A.A. degree in History from Santa Barbara City College, and a B.A. (1989, highest honors) in History, minor in Architectural History, from UCSB. She has published on local history subjects, including the history of city parks, historic buildings, architects, planning history, etc. Active in the development of El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, she is a board member and life honorary director of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. She is an honorary member of the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects and has received numerous awards.

Mary O’Gorman

Mary is a longtime resident of Santa Barbara and, more recently, the Eastern Goleta Valley [please don’t call it Noleta! ). Mary graduated from UCSB in 1980 and worked in the criminal justice system for many years and served on the City Fire& Police Commission until 2001. Mary served as ED of SBCAN until 2007, when she began a 12-year position as Chief of Staff to then-Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf. Mary oversaw several land use processes on behalf of Supervisor Wolf, including the update of the Eastern Goleta Valley Community Plan, Goleta Beach erosion and managed retreat plans, and a multitude of neighborhood planning and quality of life issues. More recently as a consultant, Mary provided assistance to residents throughout the County who were attempting to navigate the incomparable (and at times incomprehensible) Cannabis land use ordinance. She is currently semi-retired, and recently appointed to the City of Santa Barbara Community Police Review Formation Commission.

Carol Nash, North County Vice-President

Carol has a degree in biology from Newcomb College, Tulane University. She moved to Lompoc in 1961, when her husband opened the NASA office at Point Arguello Naval Facility. Since then she has served on the Fourth District General Plan Advisory Committee and the SB County Planning Commission and was elected to the Vandenberg Village Community Services District in 1992. She chaired the SB County AAUW Interbranch Council that sponsored a county-wide Land Use Workshop and coordinated the first Lompoc Water Forum with city and county hydrologists. In the 1980s, she participated in a state-wide AAUW study on the State Water Project.Carol became a CPA member many years ago after reading about CPA in the newspaper. She was concerned about land use issues and was very impressed with CPA officers’ knowledge of the Lompoc area. After becoming a Board member, she served on the Water, Land Use, and North County Land Use (NCLUC) Committees. She chaired the NCLUC and was CPA’s former North County Vice-President.

Mary Rose, Executive Vice-President

Michael Gray, Honorary Director

A resident of Santa Barbara since 1975, Michael is an attorney. He has been Treasurer of CPA and has participated in the Board’s Outreach and Development Committee, the Nominating Committee and the General Plan Update Committee, as well as on CPA’s Executive Committee. During the 1980′s, he served on the Santa Barbara City Planning Commission for seven years, including as its Chair. Following his appointment to the Planning Commission, he joined the CPA board, including two terms as CPA’s president.

Paul Hernadi, Honorary Director

Paul was born in Budapest, Hungary, and is Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at UCSB. Having received doctorates in history of the theater (University of Vienna) and comparative literature (Yale), he has published numerous books and articles in both fields. Between 1984 and his retirement in 2001, he taught at UCSB and also served as Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts for three years. After his retirement, Paul became increasingly involved with CPA’s advocacy work for sound land use planning and environmental protection. Paul recently retired from being directly involved in the CPA board of directors.

Support Team

Deborah Helmeczi, Accountant / Bookkeeper