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John Coates has worked for the City of Carlsbad since 2010. Photo courtesy of the City of Carlsbad
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Updated: Carlsbad City Manager resigns without explanation

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad City Manager John Coates resigned from his position for undisclosed reasons in an announcement on Wednesday night.


City Council decided to place Coates on paid leave and selected Fire Chief Kevin Crawford as acting City Manager in an unannounced meeting held on Oct. 31.

Following news reports of his leave, the city issued a statement on Wednesday night announcing his resignation.

Coates will remain on paid leave until March 12, 2014 so he can assist with unspecified city litigation and support the transition of the new city manger, according to city Communications Manager Kristina Ray.

“John was called to serve at a critical time of transition for our city organization,” said Mayor Matt Hall in the statement. “During the past 12 months, he has accomplished an ambitious agenda, leaving us well positioned to continue on our path of becoming a truly world class city.”

Coates was appointed to the city manager position in February after serving as the interim city manager since Lisa Hildabrand retired from the position in November 2012. Originally hired as the Parks and Recreation Director in 2010, Coates was earning $220,500 annual salary along with additional compensation at the time of his resignation.

Mayor Matt Hall stated that Crawford was the only candidate considered to temporarily fill the position and was voted in with a 4-1 vote. He would not state who opposed Crawford’s selection or why Assistant City Manager Gary Barberio was not considered.

City Council met again on Tuesday in closed session and officially appointed Crawford as the interim city manager. Crawford will serve in the position until the city has completed its annual goal setting session in January, at which time City Council will determine how it will fill the position long-term.

During Tuesday’s closed session, City Council also discussed and considered the evaluation of City Attorney Celia Brewer. No action was reported based on this discussion.

“The City Council laid out a very ambitious 12 month agenda, and I am proud of the work we did together.  Now is an ideal time for the city to consider its future needs while I prepare for my next professional adventure,” said Coates in the city’s statement.

The press release noted Coates’ accomplishments as city manager, including consolidating city departments to save taxpayers $1 million annually and overseeing the city’s creation of a “pay-for-performance” plan for city employees.

Prior to being hired by the city, Coates worked professionally for more than 30 years for the city of Santee, multiple cities in Virginia, and a national consulting agency.

Update 11/6/13: This story was updated to reflect new information provided by the City of Carlsbad’s statement that was released on Wednesday night. The SDG&E litigation claim that was originally mentioned in this article has been removed for a separate story in light of new information from SDG&E. The new story can be found at

Update 11/7/13: This story was updated to include the information about Coates staying on paid leave provided by Kristina Ray on Thursday morning.