Don Schmitz

Don Schmitz

President and Principal Planner of Schmitz & Associates, Inc.

Don Schmitz, President

Don Schmitz, AICP, is President and Principal Planner of Schmitz & Associates, Inc., a land use consulting firm specializing in land development entitlements, strategic planning, project management, and government affairs and advocacy. With over 28 years of planning experience, Mr. Schmitz is recognized as one of the State’s preeminent experts in coastal land use planning.



Master of Arts in Geography and Land Use Planning, California State University, Long Beach, 1989 (Long Beach, CA)
Bachelor of Arts in Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1985 (Santa Barbara, CA)


American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)

Professional History

Prior to establishing his own consultancy, Mr. Schmitz served as a California Coastal Commission’s South Coast District principal planner on public and private development projects, and coordinator for access and wetlands matters. He has worked within the coastal communities of Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Dana Point, Avalon, Playa Vista, Venice, Pacific Palisades, Seal Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Carpenteria, unincorporated South Laguna Beach, Irvine Cove, Newport Dunes, Santa Ana River, and Sunset Beach. He has also practiced extensively in many non-coastal jurisdictions including the counties of San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara, and the cities of Los Angeles, Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, Vista, Santa Clarita, and Moorpark. As the founder and President of Schmitz & Associates, Inc., Mr. Schmitz has led the start up, management representation, and successful entitlement of over a thousand land development projects, including retail, office and commercial developments, equestrian centers, resorts, residential subdivisions, lot line adjustments, estate homes, multifamily residences, agricultural uses, shoreline protection devices, infrastructure improvements (including sewer mains and treatment plants), roads and bridges, and restoration projects.

Integrating decades of technical planning skills, a creative and sensitive design approach, and a keen understanding of the regulatory standards, policies, and procedures, Mr. Schmitz oversees and manages a team of talented and experienced planners, architects, biologists, engineers, and geologists on these projects from inception to public hearing and through condition compliance. Schmitz & Associates, Inc.’s track record of successful advocacy of its client’s projects demonstrates Mr. Schmitz’s expansive, cultivated, and effective working relationships with government planners, elected officials, Planning and Coastal Commissioners. Mr. Schmitz is an acknowledged expert on the Coastal Act, California Subdivision Map Act, CEQA/NEPA, fire safety issues, and state Water Code. His work as an expert witness and litigation consultant has been pivotal in numerous landmark legal proceedings, including cases dealing with Coastal Act policies, improper regulatory denial of entitlements, takings damages, prescriptive rights, land use related escrow and contractual disputes, and standard of care disputes.

Long committed to public service, Mr. Schmitz is the founder and president of the Coalition for Fire Safe Communities (CFSC) and the Fifth Amendment Rights Alliance (FARA), was an appointed member and chairman of the City of Malibu Trails Committee, and was the chairman of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce. He is also a founding member of the Recreation and Equestrian Coalition (REC), and a long-term member of the American Planning Association and the California Farm Bureau.

Mr. Schmitz holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of California Santa Barbara, a Master’s degree in Geography with an emphasis in land use planning from the California State University Long Beach, and has taught college courses in these fields as an adjunct professor. He is an accomplished public speaker, and is often invited to make presentations on planning and land use issues in various public forums.

In addition, Mr. Schmitz owns Malibu Solstice Vineyard which produces award winning private reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Wine. The vineyard was planted in 1990’s and is located in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Malibu and the Pacific Ocean.

Professional Experience

President and Principal Planner

Schmitz & Associates, Inc., Malibu, CA

  • 15 years of experience facilitating urban and rural projects through the state, county and city public agencies, including subdivisions, general plan amendments, and discretionary commercial and residential development.
  • Oversee and manage staff of planners, architects and CAD/GIS technicians on all projects from inception to public hearings.
  • Coordinate every aspect of development projects, including organizing requisite sub-contractors and directing their efforts, acting as liaison with public agencies, and presenting projects at public hearings.
  • Serve as retained litigation consultant and expert witness for numerous land use planning cases.

Professor of Geography

California Community Colleges

1990 to 1997

  • Prepared and presented lectures on regional geography, physical geography, land use planning cartography, hydrology, meteorology, cultural geography, industrial development location theory and spatial development pattern prediction.



  • Preside over non-profit corporation for public education on the role of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution in protecting property rights.
  • Prepare and present speeches to conferences, forums and panels; contribute articles to quarterly newsletters; serve as guest on talk radio programs; provide interviews to newspapers and magazines.

Coastal Program Analyst

California Coastal Commission

1987 to 1989

  • Jurisdiction: Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, Avalon, Playa Vista, and unincorporated South Laguna Beach, Irvine Cove, Newport Dunes, Santa Ana River and Sunset Beach.
  • Analyzed applications for proposed development projects and determine conformance with the Coastal Act; conducted analysis of project sites, septic and water quality reports, geology and soils reports, and aerial photo interpretation.
  • Prepared staff reports for Commission review and consideration and coastal development permits for approved projects.
  • Assisted in drafting of coastal community land use plans, implementing ordinances, and violation enforcement processing