City hires community development director

Karen Garner to begin work Dec. 2

The Gilroy City Council agreed Nov. 4 to bring on an experienced planner as the city’s next community development director.

Karen Garner will begin her employment with the city on Dec. 2, filling the position that opened when Kristi Abrams retired in May after more than 20 years with Gilroy.

Garner, who holds a master’s degree in urban planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication from CSU Fullerton, brings more than 20 years of public sector experience after having served in a variety of capacities for the cities of Roseville and Rocklin along with Sacramento County.

According to a city staff report, Garner will be paid a starting salary of $180,000, plus benefits.

“She is excited to join our team and is ready to hit the ground running,” city administrator Gabriel Gonzalez said.

The community development director is responsible for administering the operations of all divisions within the Community Development Department, including planning, code enforcement, economic development and more.

Following Abrams’ retirement, the city entered into a $24,500 contract with Roseville-based recruitment firm Peckham and McKenney to find a replacement. In the meantime, it brought on Greg Larson to fill the community development director position on an interim basis.

The city is also in the hiring process for a deputy city administrator, a new position that will be responsible for furthering Gilroy’s economic development efforts.

According to a recruitment brochure by Peckham and McKenney, the salary will range from $163,944 to $220,176, plus benefits.

“We are all looking forward with anticipation to this new position and the new energy and momentum it brings to our city and economic development efforts,” said City of Gilroy spokesperson Rachelle Bedell.

In other council actions from Nov. 4:

  • The council approved a budget amendment of $1.8 million to fund a planning and environmental analysis for future Gilroy Sports Park construction. The park, located at 5925 Monterey Frontage Road, sits on 79 acres of land with soccer and baseball/softball fields, a jogging track, trails and playgrounds.

The council in May inked a one-year exclusivity agreement with Sharks Sports Entertainment LLC as a first step toward building a recreational ice skating facility in the city. Discussions are still underway on such a proposal, according to city staff.

  • To comply with Senate Bill 998, the council agreed to update the city’s residential water service shutoff policy.

In 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Water Shutoff Protection Act, which, among other things, prevents jurisdictions from shutting off residential water service before a payment is 60 days past due. The law goes into effect Feb. 1.

The city’s current policy sets the duration before water shut-off for nonpayment at 10 days.

  • The council also discussed options for consolidating the Public Art Committee with the Arts and Culture Commission and the Housing Advisory Committee with the Community and Neighborhood Revitalization Committee.

Combining commissions that have similar duties would free up staff time, according to a report to the city council.