Long Beach, California, city manager makes his exit
After 39 years in public service, Long Beach, California’s city manager has announced he will resign and shift to the private sector.
Pat West, 65, who made the announcement last week, said his last day will be Sept. 20.
“What better time to make an exit then after the christening of the Civic Center and my 13th budget,” West said.
Calling Long Beach a city on the rise, West ticked off several projects that are completed or on solid ground including the recent delivery of a $2.8 billion balanced budget to the council.
The city pioneered in 2016 a public-private financing method rarely used in the United States outside of transportation in the $533 million project to build a new city hall, port headquarters, library and park. Called the Civic Center project, it opened July 23 and the new 93,000-square-foot Billie Jean King Library will open September 21. The final piece will be a four-acre park.
Instead of the city paying upfront to build the facilities and then paying for operating costs over time, those expenses, along with design and construction costs, are all wrapped into "availability payments" the city and Port of Long Beach will make over a 40-year period.
Developer Plenary-Edgemoor Civic Partners designed and built the project and will now operate and maintain it for 40 years in return for the availability payments. Plenary plans to tear down the old city hall and build residential towers there.
“The new City Hall and Port of Long Beach building are great and the new Billy Jean King Library will open Sept. 21 with a 3 1/2-acre park opening later,” he continued. “Those projects, along with the spectacular new bridge being built and other construction downtown, are creating a fantastic new skyline for the city.”
The Civic Center project sparked development in downtown, but West said new projects are occurring all over the city.
With 39 years in, West had enough credits to retire 10 years ago at 55.
“I love this business, so I’m not retiring,” West said.
He plans to take a break after leaving the city before forming a limited liability corporation. West wants to help cities attract private investment using vehicles like opportunity zones.
The opportunity zone program was created through the federal tax bill approved by Congress in December 2017. It’s supposed to direct money to spur development in impoverished areas, in order to encourage businesses to create jobs.
The states had to designate census tracts as opportunity zones where investors can plow capital gains into projects and receive a tax break. Long Beach has nine.
“I am not jumping off just to work on opportunity zones, but they are one of the hottest things happening,” West said.
West started his career as assistant director to University of California, Los Angeles’ recreational instructional program after earning his master’s degree in recreation from California State Los Angeles.
He then shifted to the city of Paramount in 1980 where he stayed for 25 years working as parks and recreation director, community development director, executive director of the redevelopment agency and utlimately city manager in 1994.
In 2005, he was appointed the director of community development and executive director of the redevelopment agency in Long Beach. He became Long Beach city manager in September 2007.