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Calrsbad City Attorney Celia Brewer has announced her plans to retire following her Parkinson's diagnosis in 2019.
Calrsbad City Attorney Celia Brewer has announced her plans to retire following her Parkinson's diagnosis in 2019. Courtesy photo
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Carlsbad City Attorney Celia Brewer announces retirement

CARLSBAD — Longtime City Attorney Celia Brewer announced her plans to retire, according to a city press release on April 23.

Brewer, who has spent more than nine years as the city attorney, informed the Carlsbad City Council of her decision, which follows her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 2019. She will remain with the city until July 31, according to Kristina Ray, the city’s director of community and engagement.

The city attorney is one of two positions, along with the city manager, appointed by the council. According to the release, the council will address the issue in the coming weeks.

“I am passionate about public service and have loved every one of my public agency jobs, with the City of Carlsbad being the capstone of my career,” Brewer said in the release. “I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on so many projects that directly benefit the community. But the time has come for me to focus on my own well-being, joining the thousands of other people with Parkinson’s who lead active, healthy lives every day.”

During her tenure as Carlsbad City Attorney, Brewer was a key part of the negotiations with NRG Energy and San Diego Gas & Electric to decommission the Encina Power Station. Today, the above-ground demolition is nearly complete.

The site will eventually be redeveloped. Provisions in the agreement request significant collaboration with the community on its future use, according to the city.

“Celia’s contributions to the City of Carlsbad go far beyond her legal work,” said Mayor Matt Hall. “She has a unique talent in bringing disparate sides together to find common ground for the common good. Her accomplishments here and throughout the region have been transformative and will be enjoyed by residents for generations to come.”

In Carlsbad, Brewer also led the effort from a lawsuit to develop a settlement between a developer and several environmental groups. This agreement resulted in the completion of a long-awaited Poinsettia Lane connection and the repurposing of an abandoned reservoir site into Buena Vista Reservoir Park, which opened late last year – both paid for by a developer.

“Celia is an excellent attorney, but more than that, she is truly a strategic partner,” said City Manager Scott Chadwick. “Where others see conflict, she sees opportunities for creative solutions. It’s a real gift and just one of many reasons why she will be missed, not just by me but our entire city organization.”

Brewer began her public service career in Solana Beach, first as deputy city attorney and eventually as city attorney, where she helped resolve issues related to moving the railroad tracks below street level, a project improving safety and helping to revitalize the city.

In addition to working directly for public agencies, Brewer has worked in private practice representing municipalities, special districts and nonprofit organizations.

In 2007, Brewer joined the San Diego County Water Authority as assistant general counsel. In this role, she developed model conservation ordinances that today serve as the foundation for water district conservation programs throughout San Diego County.

Brewer’s penchant for successfully negotiating complex land use and environmental agreements led her in 2010 to the San Diego Unified Port District. As an assistant and interim port attorney, she helped resolve community concerns about the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, ultimately securing Coastal Commission approval for the 30-year plan to transform what has been called San Diego’s “front porch.”

Brewer’s time at the port also involved the demolition of an old power plant. In this case, Brewer helped develop a strategy to expedite the above-ground demotion of the South Bay Power Plant, something residents wanted for years. Just a month after Brewer left the port for Carlsbad, more than 1,000 people gathered in the early morning hours to watch the plant’s implosion.

Active in her profession, Brewer has served as the president of the California League of Cities City Attorneys Department, and she has been president of the City Attorneys Association of San Diego County twice.

Brewer earned her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and planning from UC San Diego. In addition to her work as a public lawyer, Brewer is the mother of three children, the youngest of whom is graduating from college this spring.

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