By LB Indy Staff
City Manager John Pietig, after two decades of service to the City of Laguna Beach, has announced he will retire in June. Over the past 20 years, Pietig has managed the City through the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, various floods and landslides. During his tenure, the City achieved historically low crime rates, addressed homelessness and navigated recessions while remaining in sound financial condition. Pietig also worked with the City team to improve transit and parking systems, increase fire prevention programs, enhance communication with the community, and address long-range planning needs through the Downtown Specific Plan, historic preservation programs and short-term lodging.
“All of these challenges could not have been addressed without support from past and present City Council members willing to take the actions necessary to overcome them, along with numerous members of the community who donated their time to serve on boards, commissions, committees and other volunteer programs,” Pietig said, noting that he is especially appreciative of Mayor Bob Whalen’s collaboration over the last couple of years to address the challenges facing the community.
“Laguna Beach has benefitted tremendously from John’s years of experience, his technical expertise, his work ethic, his understanding of our community and his steady hand in challenging times,” said Whalen. “John also is an excellent judge of talent. While he will be missed greatly, he will leave behind a motivated and experienced group of professionals who will keep us moving forward.”
Pietig said he is particularly proud of the City’s current management team. “This team is performing cutting-edge work in pandemic response, wildfire prevention, crime reduction, transit and parking management, land use planning, virtual City meetings, Leadership Laguna programs, and community dialogue,” Pietig said. “Our City team has exhibited an incredible commitment to serving the public on the front lines of the pandemic. Serving alongside these dedicated public employees has been a highlight of my career.”
Councilman Peter Blake said Pietig has been “an incredible manager of this community. In the two years I’ve been a councilman, so much of the groundbreaking work we’ve done with downtown, the response to COVID-19 and controversial issues we’ve had to tackle have all been managed by John. I’ve given him many cringeworthy moments, and he’s been able to manage me, somehow.”
Pietig has taken leadership roles in numerous large-scale public improvements, including completion of the Village Entrance project, retaining Mission Hospital and its emergency room in the City, renovating Heisler Park, completing a walking and biking trail to the fire road between Top of the World and Arch Beach Heights, and construction of a new Lifeguard Headquarters facility at Main Beach.
“The City of Laguna Beach is an extraordinary place,” Pietig said. “Our community is involved, aware and very engaged. Together, with the City Council and the City team, we have worked hard to preserve what makes this City so special while also moving forward and acting fiscally responsible in both good and challenging times. It is truly an honor and privilege to serve this special community!”