Santa Monica City Council is set to begin the search for a new City Manager, according to Tuesday night’s meeting agenda, which also includes a pair of new items pertaining to housing.
At the request of Mayor Sue Himmelrich, Councilmember Gleam Davis, and Councilmember Oscar de la Torre, staff could be directed to retain Lamont Ewell of Ralph Andersen & Associates to provide executive search services for the position of City Manager for the City of Santa Monica.
Ewell has more than 35 years of experience in the public sector after formerly managing the cities of Santa Monica, San Diego, and Durham, North Carolina, according to the biography on the company’s website. Ewell has also been called upon to serve as Interim City Manager for the cities of Culver City, Oakland, and Compton.
If approved after Tuesday night’s discussion, it’s expected that Ewell will begin searching for the city’s permanent manager since Rick Cole resigned in April 2020, right as the economic impacts of the pandemic were beginning to strain Santa Monica’s revenues from sales, hotel and parking taxes.
Current Interim City Manager Lane Dilg was hired shortly after Cole’s departure, but she announced in December she will be leaving the city in Spring 2021 as her family relocates for public service outside of Santa Monica.
Dilg said in a previous interview she didn’t know how long it will take to find a replacement but she does believe the process should be deliberate and thoughtful.
“When looking for a city manager, I think that we want a city manager for the long-term and we want that person to provide excellence for the community and continuity,” Dilg said, mentioning a search could take as little as four months. “And I want to be sure they have the time they need to do that and do that well.”
On Tuesday, City Councilmembers will discuss authorizing Himmelrich to sign a letter opposing a pair of housing bills that are currently being heard in the California Senate.
Councilmember Phil Brock declined to speak on the matter, citing potential Brown Act Violations, but the agenda states Councilmembers Brock, Christine Parra, and Oscar de la Torre wish to formally oppose SB 9 and SB 10.
SB 9 would override local control over zoning codes, requiring cities to approve, without public input or consideration, two residential units as well as lot splits on all single-family parcels that meet specified criteria.
The law is primarily designed to prevent the demolition of existing affordable housing or displacement of moderate, low, or very-low income families or historic properties but a staff report states the bill would eliminate any currently required community participation and input.
“As drafted, SB 10 would allow, but not require, cities to permit midrise, medium-density housing on sites that are within one-half mile of a major transit stop, on a high-quality bus corridor, or within a jobs-rich, high-opportunity neighborhood close to key job centers without affordability requirements or sensitivity to the character of existing neighborhoods,” the report adds as it details how the bill will undermine local land use authority if enacted.
“Our experience in Santa Monica has been that an increase in market and median rate housing has intensified gentrification that is pushing out long term renters,” de la Torre said Monday. “We are opposing these misguided bills because we want to protect our city’s diversity and find a better path towards creating real affordable housing. SB 9 and SB 10 will create more problems than solutions.”
A full copy of Tuesday’s agenda is available online at http://santamonicacityca.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=1260.