Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

8.1.14 City Manager Rod Gould Announces Retirement


July 28, 2014

City of Santa Monica NEWS


Below, please find a copy of the letter that City Manager Rod Gould presented to City Council announcing his retirement.

August 1, 2014

Dear Mayor and City Council,

I plan to retire from service as Santa Monica's City Manager at the end of January 2015. I have relished my time with the City of Santa Monica and view it as the capstone to my 35-year career in public service. Santa Monica is a truly progressive, pluralistic and incredibly active world-class beach city. I continue to marvel daily at its vibrancy, breadth of services, activities and ambitious goals, highly sophisticated residents and multiplicity of citizen community interest groups, all engaged in perfecting Santa Monica.

I have thought deeply about this decision and began discussing it with my family and my two closest colleagues early this year. I've concluded that after 29 years of city management in five cities, it's time to reset my work-life balance. The next phase of my career will involve more teaching, consulting, volunteering, and service to my profession and less night, weekend, holiday and vacation work.

It is thrilling to help lead and manage a city that not only provides excellent traditional municipal services, but also aims even higher for leadership in sustainability, mobility, technology, affordable housing, aid for education, human services, support for youth and homeless persons, arts and culture and soon community-wide wellbeing. It is an exhilarating, engrossing, at times exhausting, and altogether wonderful place.

Santa Monica has a reputation as being one of the more challenging cities to manage and administer in California. That is part of what attracted me to apply for this position. I seek challenges. There have been many and grappling with them has made my job in Santa Monica both exceptionally fulfilling and all-consuming. Now it is time to recalibrate my work-life.

At the time of my hiring in late 2009, I made a five-year commitment to Santa Monica. By setting my retirement date in January, I will fulfill that commitment and allow the City Council plenty of time to consider a process for the selection of my successor.

There are a number of accomplishments since January of 2010 of which the Council, community and City staff can all be proud. Every department of the City, led by an especially strong and collegial management team, improved service levels based on objective metrics. This group of senior managers has overcome serious challenges together and is poised to meet those in the future with equal determination and dispatch. Though I have been able to build some strong teams in previous cities, there is none finer than this one.

An abbreviated list of accomplishments include:

· Enhanced financial management through two year expenditure control budgeting, surgical cost-cutting, Measure Y approval, strengthened reserves, $25 million pay down of pension liability, and maintenance of the City's AAA bond rating despite the loss of redevelopment.

· Unparalleled financial support for local schools and excellent working relations with SMMUSD and SMC.

· Careful stewardship of a diverse and powerful local economy in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce, Santa Monica Alliance, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., and Convention and Visitors Bureau.

· Major strides and numerous accolades in sustainability, including the Zero Waste program (currently 77% diversion of waste from landfills), over 40% reduction of imported water on the way to water self-sufficiency, plastic bag and leaf blower bans, and emissions reductions through Solar Santa Monica, electric vehicle chargers and LED lighting conversions.

· Human service goal attainment: 5 Star rating for Library system, 20% reduction in homeless in five years, expanded senior services, Glow in 2010 & 2013, Youth Report Cards in 2012 & 2014 document progress, Early Childhood Education Center soon under construction, and $1 million Bloomberg prize for Wellbeing Project.

· Award winning capital projects: Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, beach restrooms, Parking Structure 6, Pico Branch Library, Ocean Park Green Street, universally accessible playground, Pier structural improvements, Charnock Water Treatment Plant, BBB maintenance facility and administration building, and 75% completion of Phase 2 Expo from Culver City to Santa Monica.

· Enhanced public safety through crime reduction to lowest levels since early 1950s, Fire Department achieved an Insurance Service Office (ISO) Class 1 status, Office of Emergency Management established with state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center, swift and effective response to June 7 mass shooting incident, progress toward consolidated dispatch and advanced seismic safety program.

· Substantially improved infrastructure maintenance including streets, sidewalks, alleys, lights, water and sewer mains, storm water drains, beach, parks, facilities, fleet, Pier, Cemetery, Airport, and urban forest.

· Improved response times to citizen requests for service with an average of five workdays to close out 6,302 Government Outreach requests annually.

· Heightened use of technology via nationally recognized super-fast CityNet broadband service and rapidly growing free WiFi service, 90% of traffic signals synchronized, substantial website improvements and social media presence, e-government like Santa Monica Government Outreach, ParkMe mobile app and Santa Monica Alerts and over 350 internal technology systems. Santa Monica became Silicon Beach in 2011.

· Award winning land use planning with adoption of the LUCE, Bike Action Plan, Bergamot Area Plan, Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway, and Housing Element, and drafts of the Zoning Ordinance and Downtown Specific Plan. Only city in the region to receive a perfect score for historic preservation from the L.A. Conservancy.

· Completion of Santa Monica Place, Civic Center Village, Shore Hotel, Agensys, and St. Monica's. Approvals of OTO and 710 Wilshire hotels, ArcLight Theaters, and Colorado Creative Studios, and property acquisition and choice of development partner for 4th and 5th & Arizona.

· Added 729 affordable housing units since 2009.

· Improved mobility through over 32 miles of bike lanes, 1,200 bike racks and bike center yielding a 50% increase in bike commuting since adoption of the Bike Action Plan, state-of-the-art Transportation Management Center, 100% alternative fueled BBB has 11 million riders per year, better bus maintenance and reliability, plans for BBB integration with EXPO, commitment to bike and car sharing, 500 renewed crosswalks and pedestrian safety improvements. Average vehicle ridership (AVR) hit 1.67 in 2012 and remains substantially above the Sustainable City Plan target of 1.5.

· Major investments in internal training and organizational development including the Santa Monica Institute and supervisory training, coupled with commitment to new ways of promoting civic engagement, such as the People's Academy.

In the coming years, Santa Monica will make decisions regarding the future of Santa Monica Airport, Civic Auditorium, Bergamot arts center, and three major hotel applications. These long term decisions will influence the evolution of the City and involve challenges, opportunities and trade-offs. I am confident that those decisions will be carefully considered and wisely made. Santa Monica can be a highly contentious polity, but out of the crucible of intense civic discourse springs the best results.

You have my sincere thanks for your confidence and support during my tenure as city manager. That extends to former Mayors Richard Bloom and Bobby Shriver, who were also highly supportive. I am particularly indebted to Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek and City Attorney Marsha Moutrie for their excellent guidance and encouragement along the way.

Moreover, the Santa Monica community is fortunate to have the dedicated work of hundreds of exceptional City employees, who impress daily with their skills, service ethic and commitment. I will greatly miss working with the fine people who comprise your City workforce and many unforgettable community leaders.

Please know of my deep gratitude for the opportunity to serve Santa Monica at this dynamic time. To live and work in this fair city is a rare privilege.


Rod Gould

City Manager


Reader Comments

Beachy writes:

What a shame to have him go. He was a voice of reason among sometimes voices of craziness. Calm, fair and unbiased I can only pray our next city manager isn't a puppet of the special interest who are trying to hijack this city.


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