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Karen Brust
Encinitas City Manager Karen Brust will leave her position effective June 12. Courtesy photo
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City Manager Karen Brust resigns in the midst of local emergency

ENCINITAS — As the city grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, residents and local officials find themselves confronted with a different challenge — finding a new city manager.

Earlier this morning, City Manager Karen Brust submitted her letter of resignation effective June 12, according to an internal city email received by The Coast News.

Brust, who was first hired to the position in 2015, was named the Director of Emergency Services after the Encinitas City Council issued a Proclamation of Local Emergency on March 16, activating its Emergency Operations Center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the director of emergency services, Brust is responsible for addressing the impacts and conditions caused by COVID-19, in addition to obtaining assistance from local, county, state and federal agencies.

Assistant City Manager Mark Delin will serve as interim director until Brust’s replacement is chosen.

“Karen has been a fantastic city manager for nearly five years,” said Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “She’ll be sorely missed. We wish her many happy years in retirement.”

It remains unclear if there are currently any candidates to permanently fill the vacancy left by Brust, who served as city manager for the cities of Del Mar and San Juan Capistrano.

Over the next 60 days, Brust will be “preparing a transition plan to ensure that the City Council’s vision and continuity of operations continue to move forward with minimal interruption,” according to the email.

“My respect and appreciation deepen as I witness the exemplary customer service that all of you are providing to our residents and businesses,” Brust wrote.  “Weathering through these uncertain times has been difficult due to the physical and emotional constraints placed upon us in business and in our personal lives.  Yet, I watch in awe how everyone is seamlessly working together; supporting each other; and acting responsibly in the face of all the demands that have been placed upon us.”

Shortly before Brust came to work for Encinitas, Larry Watt, who served on the Olivenhain Municipal Water District board, was named interim city manager after former City Manager Gus Vina announced his resignation. Brust was eventually hired to replace Watt in 2015.

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7 comments

Joanne C Imperial MD April 17, 2020 at 8:07 am

I would like to know why the coast rail trail and the walkway on HIghway 1 along Cardiff beach are now closed ? I am an MD and very conscious of the rultes around social distancing. I have been impressed with how responsible our community residents have been. I was on the trail on Easter Sunday and everyone had a mask and was practicing distancing. We need some outlets and this is a very unfair policy which I hope will be reversed. Why not just have law enforcement patrol and be sure that the rules are followed, and give us all a chance to show you how responsible and considerate the members of this community are?

Craig Nelson April 16, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Insanely overpaid.

Lynn Marr April 16, 2020 at 1:15 pm

I am curious to know what her pension will be upon retirement. I feel that City Managers, including ours, are making a huge amount of money when they retire. Our unfunded pension liability is growing. CALPERS, California Public Employees Retirement System will NOT be able to realize a 7% income from Stock Market investments for years to come. We are now in a recession/depression. Cities, including the City of Encinitas, will have to make up the difference, taking money from our so-called Capital Improvement Funds.

Encinitas Capital Improvement Projects, including unfunded road maintenance are not sustainable under new market conditions. The writing is on the wall. We should NOT be borrowing more money, particularly without a public vote, which would be required through General Obligation Bonds. The planned North 101 Streetscape Project should be shelved during this emergency. Most people, when polled, do not want to eliminate another lane on our public highway for motorists and install four roundabouts with no throughway cross-streets, when the speed limit has already been slowed to 30 MPH with new signage and speed cushions.

Now is the perfect time for Karen Brust to retire. She will not have to “face the music,” regarding our City’s out of balance debt to incoming revenue levels. Our City is dependent on property taxes. In the midst of a recession/depression, those will not continue at the same level. Real Estate sales will slow down. Our City will also receive less money from sales taxes. Also, far less people will be able to remodel or do home improvements. The City will be collecting far less in development fees, which are a kind of hidden tax.

Casandra April 16, 2020 at 10:06 am

She is 60 which is a good age to retire early if she wants to be done working. She gave 2 months notice so it sounds like she will make some sort of effort at cleaning things up before she leaves. Let’s hope for the best. For Karen Brust & the City of Encinitas.

Kathleen Lees April 16, 2020 at 9:25 am

I consider this a very sad day for Encinitas. In my opinion, Ms Brust is the best City Manager we’ve ever had. A real professional. Encinitas was a ‘good old boy’ town for too long. Karen is strong and knows her business, she has great integrity and she is not a quitter. I am with Kevin, there must be something going on in her personal life that is making this necessary. My great thanks and appreciation go to her and her family.

Sandra Jones April 15, 2020 at 11:09 pm

Why did she resign in the midst of this crisis? Had she been planning to retire before this?

alison April 15, 2020 at 9:07 pm

Yay! One of the worst City Managers the City of Encinitas has ever had. Karen had quite a reputation for not listening or responding to residents. Anyone who worked with her, truly knows how two faced she was. Karen Brust will be missed by Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, but we all know why that is. All we need to do now is get rid of Mayor Blakespear, Kellie Shay Hinze and Tony the “phony” Kranz

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