The Coast News Group

Watt selected as interim City Manager

ENCINITAS — The City Council has selected longtime Encinitas resident and former city public works director Larry Watt to serve as interim city manager.

Watt, who currently serves as a board member of the Olivenhain Water District, will replace Gus Vina, who was recently hired as City Manager of Brentwood after three years in Encinitas.

Watt was selected during a closed session meeting Thursday morning. The council selected him from a group of three finalists that were nominated by a council subcomittee of Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear.

The council will formally hire Watt at its Jan. 21 meeting, at which time the details of his salary and contract will be disclosed.

Council members said his experience and understanding of local issues made him an ideal candidate for the interim post, as the city has a number of projects underway that will require the city manager to hit the ground running, such as the ongoing Housing Element update discussions and the upcoming capital budget talks.

Watt does not have to step down from his board post at Olivenhain, but said he would not participate in San Dieguito Water District meetings to avoid a conflict of interest. The City Council serves as the San Dieguito Water District.

The council also at the meeting chose the recruiting firm Avery and Associates to head its search for a permanent city manager, a position that Watt says he has no interest in applying for. The firm anticipates the entire process will take 14-18 weeks (3 1/2 to 4 1/2 months) to complete.