Council Appoints New Interim City Manager



Laguna Beach City Council unanimously appointed Sean Joyce as the interim city manager during a special meeting on Tuesday. Photo/Sean Joyce

The Laguna Beach City Council unanimously appointed Sean Joyce as Interim Laguna Beach City Manager in a special meeting held Tuesday, Sept. 5, at City Hall.

“Mr. Joyce has a wealth of experience as a city manager and is the right person to serve as our interim city manager during this time of transition for our community and city staff,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. “We look forward to working with him over the next several months as we undertake the process to recruit and select our next city manager.”

Joyce, who has more than 35 years of municipal government experience and retired as Irvine City Manager in February 2018, will temporarily fill the role of city manager while the city distributes a request for proposals for an executive recruitment consultant to lead a candidate search for the permanent position, made empty by Shoreh Depuis, who officially retired on Sept. 1 after serving a little more than two years as Laguna’s city manager.

The hiring process will incorporate opportunities for public input and is estimated to take around four to six months. The city expects to hire a permanent city manager by early 2024.

Joyce will be limited to a total of 960 working hours in a fiscal year and receive $143 an hour in compensation.

Human Resources and Risk Manager Aggie Nesh told members of city council that the interim role is vital to retaining a high level of service to the city residents and ongoing leadership for city staff.

“Mr. Joyce has served California for more than 28 years, most recently serving as Irvine’s city manager between 2005 and 2018,” Nesh said. “Since retiring in 2018, he’s served as the interim city manager for South Pasadena, Huntington Beach and San Clemente.”

During public comment, Village Laguna President Anne Caenn urged the councilmembers to use caution when selecting a permanent city manager.

“We hope that when you move forward in the process, you provide a vehicle for residents’ input, perhaps a town hall meeting or study session of some type so that residents are involved,” she said.

In addition to serving as Irvine City Manager, Joyce also held the role of city manager for South Pasadena and Sierra Madre.

“I am honored to be asked to serve the city of Laguna Beach as interim city manager,” said Joyce, who has a master’s degree from California State University of Fullerton in public administration. “I will work closely with the city council and executive leadership during these next few months to ensure a seamless transition and continued forward momentum for city staff, city council initiatives and current and future projects.”

Joyce will start his new role as interim city manager on Sept. 7.

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  1. So why wasn’t a City Manager with equal credentials and experience selected last time around?

    You might want to ask Bob Whalen, Sue Kempf and Peter Blake that question, they’re the ones who pressured for and championed Shohreh Dupuis’ appointment despite her lack of experience, credentials, academic background and diplomatic management style – and despite the surely better qualified candidates who applied for the position.

    We’ve been paying for their decision ever since and will be continuing to pay for it until her remaining seven-year City-paid house allowance expires.

    Looking forward to this fresh start – someone without insider allegiances, political debts and old baggage. Wishing Mr. Joyce and all the residents of Laguna the best results from this appointment.

  2. It used to be an honor to be appointed to something. This is mischaracterized, and should have read Laguna Hired a New City Manager. He’s getting paid to do a job.


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