City Recruiting Manager, Environmental Sustainability Director

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Days after City Manager Jim Thorsen announced his retirement at the Monday, Feb. 8, City Council meeting, it was announced that Vic Peterson, the longtime Environmental Sustainability Director, had vacated his position with the city.

Now, the city is searching for replacements for both men.

The two positions now open with the city are some of the highest-ranking staff positions among the 65 full-time staffers employed by the City of Malibu. Thorsen’s replacement will oversee the entire city staff, while Peterson’s will be in charge of over a dozen staffers in the Environmental Sustainability Department (ESD), a department comparable in size to the Planning Department.

The search for Thorsen’s replacement is underway, with the city manager expecting to vacate the office in May.

“Appointed by the City Council, the city manager is the chief executive officer for the city, which includes 65 full-time employees, organized into six departments,” the job description on the City of Malibu website explains. “The ideal candidate will possess superior interpersonal and communication skills. The city values its small town, rural residential atmosphere. A strong understanding of land use planning and public works is desirable.”

When speaking to The Malibu Times on Feb. 9, the day after announcing his retirement, Thorsen said a future city manager may have a slightly smoother road than he did, starting out a decade ago.

“I think the nice thing about Malibu is [that it] used to be known as a very tough place for city managers, [but] it’s gotten a lot more stable, and I think it’s a  great position for any future city manager,” Thorsen said. “I think anybody who comes here will be challenged and rewarded all at the same time.”

The position is recruiting qualified candidates until Friday, March 25. Interested parties should email a resume, five work-related references and a salary history to City Attorney Christi Hogin and include “Malibu City Manager” as the subject. The position pays $210,000 per year, “plus an excellent benefits package,” the website reads.

Current Assistant City Manager Reva Feldman is one candidate for the position, which is being advertised in a broad recruitment campaign. Feldman declined to speak about the process or her desire to fill Thorsen’s shoes, saying only, “I’ve been with the city for 11 years. I’m very interested in staying with the city.”

Feldman has received acclaim for a consistently balanced city budget.

Since Peterson vacated his position, 20-year City of Malibu veteran deputy building official and environmental sustainability manager Craig George has taken over on an interim basis.

George, one of — if not the — longest-serving employee of the city, is also interested in trying his hand at Peterson’s job long-term, recruitment for which should begin soon.

According to the City of Malibu’s official department description, the ESD “brings focus and a defined purpose to the City’s commitment to the protection and sustainable use of the natural and built environment through the development and enforcement of reasonable and effective ordinances, practices and policies, as well as fostering an aggressive component of public outreach, education, and cooperation with internal and external agencies, community and business groups, and environmental organizations.”

That mouthful basically means the ESD has a wide scope of responsibilities within the city, including water quality testing, building permitting inspections, renewable energy development and promoting water conservation, among many other things, George explained.

A director of the department would need “management skills, obviously to be able to best guide the people in the department,” George said. Also important is “an understanding of who the staff is and what their capabilities are, and trying to enhance those capabilities.”

As for whether he would stay with the city were he not selected as new ESD director, George said he would.

“My plan is to stay; I’m currently the manager of the department,” George said. “If the opportunity didn’t avail itself to me, then I would certainly stay with the city and assist whoever is selected as the director, but I am very hopeful that I will be selected as director.”

Applications for the position are not yet being accepted.