Business / Economy

San Juan Bautista City Council Hires Interim City Manager

The interim city manager will also help council members find and hire a permanent replacement.
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San Juan Bautista City Council Members hired an interim city manager at the Sept.19 meeting. Morgan Hill resident Ed Tewes will be serving as the city manager until a permanent replacement is found. 

Former city manager Roger Grimsley resigned in late August after concerns arose over possible mishandling of the Rancho Vista housing development, which is still under construction. Grimsley, also served as the city engineer. Community Development Director Matt Orbach was appointed the city manager position while the ad hoc committee, made up of Mayor Chris Martorana and Councilman John Freeman, continued their search for a permanent replacement.  

Tewes became aware of the position after Gilroy City Clerk Shawna Freels let him know about the situation in San Juan Bautista and his name was passed on to Martorana. 

"I was approached with the opportunity to help you, to help the staff. It's clear there's no shortage of projects or issues. I'm looking forward to working with you and answering your questions," Tewes said. 

Tewes has been retired for the past four and a half years and has 40 years of experience. He started his career in the city of Pasadena. Later moving on to serve as the assistant city manager in Long Beach. 

"I was the city manager in the city of Clovis. City manager of Modesto and before I retired I was the city manager of Morgan Hill," he added. He also served as interim city manager for the cities of Gilroy and Guadalupe in Santa Barbra county. 

He will be working 32 hours for four days a week at $50 an hour for the next two to three weeks. "After that you sit down and you figure out what you think it's going to take to run the city," said Vice Mayor Jim West. 

City Engineer

Council Members also approved a contract for engineering services with 4Leaf, Inc. 

Founded in 2001, the Bay Area company specializes in civil engineering projects and services such as: building inspections, electrical and plumbing inspections, environmental consulting, and construction Management "

During discussion Dan De Vries voiced his concerns over not including a "not to exceed amount" in the contract. 

"What we don’t need is for 4leaf to turn in a bill that will shock everyone's conscience including Mr. Tewes… what's to stop them from turning in 600 hours?," he said.  

Tewes responded, "This is demand related, so people submit plans and pay fees. The fees are established on an average… the actual contract is not going to be on average, it will be the amount of hours required. It is the responsibility of the city manager to manage that contract but I think we need to match up the demand with the supply. As people demand services they’re going to be paying fees and we need to match up those fees with these costs so I think it would be appropriate to report back to you on how we are doing."  

Matt Orbach to Leave his Role as Community Development Director 

In other council news, council members announced Orbach will be leaving his position as Community Development Director.  

It was the first time many residents had heard about Orbach's departure. 

"This is also the first I've heard that Matt Orbach is leaving us and I'm very disappointed to hear that. I think he's been a wonderful everything. I'm sure it''ll be good for his career and I wish him the very best," said Cara Vonk. 

Orbach will be moving on to work in the city of Capitola where he currently resides.  

"We just want to thank you for all of your years of service to the city of San Juan Bautista. All that you've done, all the hard work and I wish you nothing but huge success over there in Capitola," said De Vries.  

Orbach said, "Thank you for letting me come back here for a second time and letting me work a little bit more on a crazy variety of projects. It's been a great experience and thank you for giving that opportunity."

Traffic Concerns of Fourth Street 

Council members will be taking a look at traffic issues on fourth street at next month's city council meeting after it was brought up by resident Rachel Ponce. During public comment, Ponce said she was almost hit by a speeding car as she was crossing the street prompting others to voice their concerns over speeding cars.  

Jackie Morris Lopez along with others in the audience suggested the council look at installing speed bumps. 

Councilman Dan De Vries agreed with residents saying, "I absolutely agree that something has to be done and I do like the idea of speed bumps… Here's what we're doing about it. The city council has already instructed the planning commission to study the issue of traffic here in San Juan, From Second street here to fourth."  

Councilman Tony Boch also agreed that there needed to be speed bumps of Fourth street adding that the problem couldn't be blamed on people from out of town. "When you talk about tourists or whatever, I can identify at least six cars in this town that sped up and down on that street."

Laura Romero

Laura Romero has been a reporter and handled marketing/social media for BenitoLink. She has covered education and city government. Formerly, she worked as an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assisted with press outreach, event coordination, and social media planning. With her PR skills, she has helped to implement social media strategies and develop online giving campaigns for BenitoLink. Laura continues to contribute to BenitoLink on a freelance basis.