Del Mar City Council honors outgoing city manager

Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland presented outgoing City Manager Scott Huth with a proclamation during his last meeting on Feb. 3.

The Del Mar City Council honored retiring City Manager Scott Huth, who served his last meeting on Feb. 3, in front of an audience that included Huth’s family and former council members who were part of the decision to hire him.

Huth announced last June that he planned to retire in February.

“It’s been a great situation working both for Coronado and my last eight years here in Del Mar,” Huth said at the meeting earlier this week, referring to his time as public services director in Coronado. “Del Mar has been special. Very unique community, great group of people, very engaged community.”

Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland presented the outgoing city manager with a proclamation recognizing his “many contributions to the city.” She mentioned some of the city’s notable achievements during Huth’s tenure, including the completion of the civic center, lifeguard department headquarters at 17th Street and a portion of the river path trail along the San Dieguito Lagoon.

Huth also weathered a controversy in 2018 when he called for an independent investigation of Pat Vergne, the city’s former chief lifeguard and public services director, over accusations that Vergne waived or discounted rental fees for city facilities. Vergne was fired in 2017; no charges were ever brought against him. Two claims he filed against the city for wrongful termination and defamation were dismissed in court.

Many residents supported Vergne, who spent 37 years working for the city, and called for Huth’s firing. But the council in 2018 extended his contract with a raise and bonus.

“Many people in the community are very grateful for your leadership,” Terry Sinnott, a former Del Mar mayor and councilman, said during public comment.

“We have 4,300 or so individuals in Del Mar, they all have unique opinions, they’re all well-informed, and none of the opinions agree,” Don Mosier, another former councilman, said. “I think that’s true and that’s part of the challenge of being a city manager in Del Mar.”

Huth said he will continue to spend time in Del Mar, possibly surfing or volunteering.

“I really love Del Mar, and I like the community, and I think it’s an exceptional community,” he said.

After a five-month search that began last summer, the council hired Laguna Beach Assistant City Manager Christa L. Johnson to be the new Del Mar city manager. The first day of her three-year, $240,000 per year term will be Feb. 12.