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Planning director settling in


Kaye Simonson had a simple question after moving to Calaveras County about a week ago: "Where can I get some Pad Thai?"

Not in Angels Camp, she soon learned.

She looks forward, however, to tasting what food the city does offer.

Simonson, the city's new planning director, spent yesterday — her first day on the job — reading zoning ordinances from two thick binders in her corner office at the city's Community Development Department on Stanislaus Avenue.

"There's a lot to learn," the 39-year-old North Dakota native said. "The biggest thing is just learning a new place."

Simonson recently left her job in San Francisco's planning department for the $50,000-a-year Angels Camp position. She will conduct planning studies, enforce zoning regulations and make necessary revisions to the city's general plan.

The lack of ethnic cuisine might be a downer, but Simonson said she's relieved to see a lack of traffic.

"It's a grueling 10-minute commute," she said of the drive to work from her rented home, where she lives with her dog, Muttley. "It's much better than two buses and one hour."

That was her commute from Oakland to San Francisco every day.

For the past two years, Simonson has worked on planning projects in northwest San Francisco. Before that, she was a planner in Telluride, Colo., for nine years.

Simonson earned an architecture degree from the University of Nebraska before going to graduate school at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

"I've lived in small towns more than cities," she said.

Simonson said there is much to learn about her new home. Eight maps decorate her office wall and boxes of papers are stacked on the floor.

She's studying Angels Camp's general plan this week with Amy Augustine, the city's former planner. Augustine, who is based in Sonora, will still consult for Angels Camp.

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