Pier: Negin Singh joined the Pier about three years ago. Courtesy photo

Negin Singh recently announced her resignation as Executive Director of the Pier Corporation, and current Deputy Director Jim Harris will step in as interim director in June.

Singh assumed the role three and a half years ago to help reimagine the Twilight Concert Series and said that the current needs of the pier no longer align with her skillset in arts and culture event planning. She looks forward to beginning a new chapter working for a technology start-up centered around small businesses.

“This decision came at the right time for me and my family and where I see my future going and where I think the pier’s future is going,” said Singh. “I think the pier’s challenges are mostly going to be operational in nature, versus why I first came into this work, which is really focused on the programming, culture making and art making.”

Prior to the pandemic, the pier accommodated up to 13 million visitors a year. Moving forward there will be significant challenges in making sure the 111-year-old structure can safely support crowds again.

One long standing priority, according to Singh, is renovating the aging Pier bridge. This construction has been a topic of conversation for the last twenty years and is currently scheduled to be completed for 2027, just in time for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

In the immediate future the most pressing concern is safely navigating the reopening of businesses and services on the pier, while also ensuring that social distancing and Covid-19 safety measures are in place. This past Sunday large crowds prompted the Santa Monica Police Department to limit access to the pier at 7pm.

“It’s really about figuring out how the pier operates in a post and during COVID world, and how we can accommodate as many guests as possible as safely as possible under what I’m sure will be restrictions that will change throughout time, and how we can best serve our tenants in their journeys to economic recovery,” said Singh.

In order to meet these challenges the Pier Corporation Board voted to have Jim Harris step in as Interim Executive Director. Harris has 18 years of experience working for the Pier Corporation and has served as interim director in the past.

Singh will shift to working part-time in May while Harris is transitioning into the role, which he will take over officially on June 1.

“I think with COVID the pier’s priorities have really changed and I think Jim, who prior to now being the interim director was the head of operations, really knows the pier inside and out and is going to do a really great job,” said Singh.

Singh said she was very proud of all that she and her team managed to accomplish during her tenure as Executive Director, which she described as an “incredibly challenging, exciting, and meaningful experience”. Her biggest accomplishment was the successful “right siding” of the Twilight Concert Series, which the City Council considered putting on hiatus in 2018 due to the security risk posed by its overwhelmingly large crowds.

Singh also said that she was proud to serve as one of the only women of color in Santa Monica’s leadership and help promote diverse and inclusive cultural events such as the City’s first Pride celebration.

Clara@smdp.com