SLO’s top manager is leaving the city after 12 years

The city manager of San Luis Obispo is going after 12 years to take on a bigger job for the County of Marin. A news release released Thursday said that Derek Johnson, who is City Manager of SLO, will leave near the end of April to become CEO of Marin County. The release says that Johnson will be in charge of a group with more than 2,500 workers and a budget of close to $1 billion in his new job.

According to the news release, Johnson, who grew up in Marin County, said, “SLO will always be in my heart. The chance to return to my hometown in this brand-new role was just a perfect fit for where I am professionally and personally at this stage of life.” “That doesn’t mean the choice was simple.” “I am so proud of what our city team has done and how it has brought the City Council, city staff, and community together as a team.”

The city says the departing boss helped get money for new projects and developments.

The release says that Johnson started working for the city in 2011 as the head of community development. One of his main tasks was to help update San Luis Obispo’s land-use plans to meet housing and economic needs. The release says that Johnson was in charge of a team of more than 400 people and a budget of about $240 million after becoming city manager in 2017.

A press release says that Johnson worked to ensure the city’s long-term financial stability by creating a Fiscal Health Response Plan that included “improving the efficiency of city operations, renegotiating labor agreements, decreasing the City’s pension debt, and bringing in significant new sources of revenue.”

This contributed to significant infrastructure advancements in the city, such as the establishment of the downtown cultural arts district, new Mission Plaza facilities, bike and pedestrian safety enhancements, and new parks and trails, as stated in the release.

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Throughout his tenure with the city, he has focused on securing funding for supportive housing, implementing San Luis Obispo’s initial homelessness response strategic plan, and introducing new roles to oversee diversity, equity, inclusion, environmental sustainability, and communication and engagement initiatives, as stated in the release.

Johnson mentioned that the City Council had established a clear and ambitious roadmap. “They also gave me the freedom to be creative and take charge, resulting in a culture of innovation and productivity among city staff.”

What’s the next plan for the city?

Mayor Erica A. Stewart announced that the city will develop a transition plan to maintain momentum on its key objectives and priorities following Johnson’s departure. She expressed gratitude for Derek’s leadership in the city, according to the statement. “Derek’s leadership and financial management have set the city on a strong path, with a capable team ready to continue the city’s important work.”

The city and council are excited to collaborate with staff on creating a temporary plan and a long-term strategy for filling the city manager position. The City Council plans to hold a closed session soon to talk about interim appointments and recruitment plans, as stated in the release. Additional details will be shared by the city once they are ready.

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