Pat West, Long Beach’s city manager, announced on Sunday, Aug. 11, that he will soon resign as the town’s top executive, the post he’s held for 12 years.
His resignation will go into effect Sept. 20, West said.
In making the unexpected announcement, West, 65, said this was a “good time for me to go and allow for new leadership for the city.”
West spent much of Sunday informing Long Beach City Council members and Mayor Robert Garcia of his decision.
“This is all me,” he said in a phone interview. “I have a fantastic relationship with the mayor and the council. I love Long Beach and all we have achieved, but being city manager for 12 years is a long time, and it was just my time to do something else.”
West said he would take a break before “hanging out my shingle” as a private consultant, specializing in government issues and public policies.
West, who came to power in 2007 and spent much of his early years as Long Beach’s top executive helping the city recover from the fallout of the Great Recession, said the timing was good for his departure. When he and Garcia released their proposed $2.8 billion budget, for fiscal year 2019-20, West called Long Beach a city “on the rise.”
The city, in recent years, has boomed. Long Beach…
Has enjoyed massive development, especially in its burgeoning downtown;
Has seen the June sale of Boeing’s former C-17 manufacturing plant — which could soon result in the 93-acre plant, vacant since 2015, becoming a mixed-used development;
Charted unemployment falling to its lowest levels in years;
Christened its new $533 million Civic Center last month;
Celebrated Pacific Visions, a mammoth $53 million expansion of the Aquarium of the Pacific, boasting one-of-a-kind seaside architecture;
Snagged the role of host city for the California Democratic Convention in November.;
Will, when the summer Olympics come to Los Angeles in 2028, likely benefit, too — with multiple events and activities expected to take place here.
“I’m proudest of where Long Beach is today,” West said Sunday.
“The new City Hall and Port of Long Beach building are great and the new Billie Jean King Library will open Sept. 21 with a 3 1/2-acre park opening later,” he continued. “They, along with the spectacular new bridge being built and other construction downtown, are creating a fantastic new skyline for the city.”
West, a Cypress resident, added that he was especially pleased with how the livability of Long Beach has increased during his tenure as city manager.
Long Beach, West said, continues to receive recognition nationally “for our accomplishments, including being named the most walkable city on the West Coast, one of the most bike friendly cities in the nation, having a parks system that has risen to top-21 in the country and being a leader in climate change.”
Long Beach is also the safest it’s been in a generation, has seen $3.5 billion in private investment in all parts of the city — from downtown to Bixby Knolls, from Belmont Shore to North Long Beach — and been a leader in innovating with new technology.
West, however, will leave the top post with several challenges remaining — though the city has worked to tackle those recently:
Homelessness remains a problem, though Long Beach’s most recent count of those on the street showed the population remained relatively flat over the last two years, something the rest of Los Angeles County, generally, can’t say.
Long Beach, like the rest of California, also has a housing crisis; the City Council, earlier this year, approved a relocation-assistance ordinance — which went into effect Aug. 1 — to help renters who receive no-fault evictions.
Who will replace West? No announcement had been made as of Sunday evening, but the City Council will likely discuss the next steps during a closed-session meeting, possibly as soon as Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Assistant City Manager Tom Modica, currently the No. 2 executive in Long Beach, could become the interim city manager, based on the line of succession. The council could eventually vote on a permanent successor.
West, meanwhile, will be well-suited to become a private-sector consultant. This year marks his 39th as a public official.
West went from being the assistant director of UCLA’s recreational instructional program to a 25-year career with the city of Paramount, where he worked as parks and recreation director, community development director, executive director of the redevelopment agency and, finally, city manager.
In 2005, he came to Long Beach and was appointed the director of community development and executive director of the redevelopment agency. He became Long Beach city manager in September 2007, when Bob Foster was mayor.
Three months later, the Great Recession began.
“I’ve been through just about everything and anything that can be thrown at a city,” West said. “I’ve been through boom and bust, civil unrest and finding solutions to homelessness and affordable housing.”