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René Bobadilla will not become Santa Monica’s new city manager after informing the Council he will not move forward with contract negotiations. 

“Today, my Council colleagues and I received a letter from René Bobadilla announcing that he will not move forward with contract negotiations to be Santa Monica’s next city manager. Mr. Bobadilla has made the decision to continue his public service with the City of Montebello,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. 

“We will take up this matter at our next Council meeting and remain confident that we will hire an exceptional, energetic leader for our world-class organization.”

Several Montebello councilmembers said they wanted to retain him following Santa Monica’s announcement of his possible departure and the Montebello Council approved a new contract with Bobadilla at their June 9 meeting by a 4-1 vote.

Montebello Councilman David Torres praised Bobadilla but opposed the compensation package approved to retain him. 

“I really have to give it to my colleagues for tangling with Santa Monica, with their $700 million operating budget and 1900 employees compared to our $60 million dollar operating budget and 400 employees,” said Torres. 

Torres said the scale of the package approved to keep Bobadilla was out of step with other city employees despite his accomplishments.

“I myself am very much in favor of you continuing to work with the city. I don’t think that anyone can dispute that there definitely have been bright points in what you brought to Montebello and, you know, as Montebello deserves the best, at the same time I believe that we have to be realistic and think if we can afford it, and unfortunately Madam Mayor, I can’t support the package this extravagant.”

Councilman Salvador Melendez said a good city manager can save the city thousands of dollars and Bobadilla’s work on several projects justified his retention. 

“So, you know, we have to do everything we can to keep the city manager. And I believe that we’re not overcompensating or not doing anything, you know, extraordinary,” he said. “I think we’re doing what’s fair, what’s reasonable and, you know, I hope that we can keep our city manager here.”

Bobadilla said he was happy to stay.

“It is with a great deal of humility and gratitude that I’ve decided to remain with the City of Montebello,” said Bobadilla. “The support and confidence expressed to me by all members of our current City council for the hard work and results our staff and leadership have contributed to put this City on positive footing have provided the assurance that we can continue to build on our momentum. We have and will continue to do good things for the City and its residents.”

Bobadilla said he was grateful for the opportunity in Santa Monica but expressed regret for this matter becoming public 

“While this was a very difficult decision meant to be private until appropriate, I sincerely appreciate the vote of confidence and support the Montebello Council has made and the terms of their offer demonstrate their desire to continue building on the collaboration and cooperation we’ve been able to establish,” he said. “This is the right decision for me and my family at this stage of my career and I genuinely thank the Council for their commitment and backing as we enhance our partnership for the benefit of our residents and the community.”

Bobadilla was chosen from among 62 applicants for the position just a day before Montebello voted to retain him. Under his new contract, he will make $318,500, receive lifetime medical benefits and an enhanced severance package. 

Santa Monica Councilwoman Gleam Davis was the lone “no” vote on trying to hire Bobadilla with Council met on Tuesday. She declined to explain her opposition and ultimately changed her vote to support negotiations in an effort to show a united council supported his success.

The city has been without a permanent chief executive since Rick Cole resigned in April 2020. Santa Monica has hired former City Manager John Jalili to serve as interim city manager when current interim City Manager Lane Dilg leaves on June 22.