After 15 months of interim city managers, Council has successfully hired current Berkeley Deputy City Manager David White and cemented his terms of employment.

On July 27, council members unanimously approved White’s city manager contract, which includes a $340,000 salary, sevens months of $3,000 monthly rental assistance, and nine months of severance pay under specified conditions.

White, who will begin his position on Oct. 11, declined to speak with the Daily Press, citing a packed schedule finishing his job in Berkeley and preparing to move with his wife.

White’s salary is similar to the salary held by previous City Manager Rick Cole. Starting in July 2022, White’s salary will be annually adjusted in the same percentage of salary increases granted to participants in the Executive Pay Plan for that fiscal year.

In addition to rental assistance and moving expenses, White will be eligible for a $1.5 million home loan from the City with a 3.5 percent fixed interest rate. White is not required to live in Santa Monica, but the employment agreement states that this is both his and Council’s preference. White will receive CalPERS retirement benefits.

Councilmember Phil Brock asked staff whether White’s contract salary is on par with that of city managers in similarly sized cities. Interim City Attorney George Cardona confirmed that it is and no further comments or questions were raised by council.

In a statement released on July 22, Mayor Sue Himmelrich said, “David has a keen understanding of the central issues our like-minded cities face and has demonstrated that he has the experience and spirit of can-do inclusion we need to lead Santa Monica at this critical time. We are thrilled to have found a candidate so aligned with our community’s values and impatiently await his arrival so we may begin our collective work.”

Prior to starting his role as deputy manager in Berkeley in 2019, White served as the city manager of Fairfield for five years. Both cities have similar population sizes to Santa Monica.

White has a background in finance as an investment banker and as Fairfield’s finance director. He is expected to play a key role in leading Santa Monica’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

White is a native Angeleno and holds a UCLA bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology and an MIT master’s degree in city planning.

As City Manager, White will oversee a total budget of $705.5 million and a workforce of 1,923.

The approval of White’s contract marks the end of a six month process to fill the city manager position, which received 64 applications. Council initially selected Montebello City Manager Rene Bobadilla, however Montebello City Council caught wind of this via a press leak and enticed Bobadilla to stay with a $68,500 raise.

John Jalili took over as interim city manager following Interim City Manager Lane Dilg’s departure on June 24. Jalili will continue to serve in this position until White begins his permanent role on Oct. 11.

Clara@smdp.com