San Luis Obispo hires first city sustainability manager

San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The city of San Luis Obispo has hired its first sustainability manager.

Chris Read, a former San Luis Obispo County senior sustainability and energy program coordinator, was introduced to the City Council on Tuesday.

Read will be responsible for the administration, development and management of environmental sustainability and climate action policies and programs.

"I cherish the opportunity to think how we operate, to think about how can become more resilient and to think about how we can thrive despite a changing climate," Read said.

Read’s annual salary is $91,598 per year, said Human Resources Director Monica Irons.

Climate action is one of the city's four major city goals (along with housing, multi-modal transportation and fiscal responsibility). The new position was prioritized as part of that goal.

"This role was created to support the city’s top major city goal and was determined to be critical to achieving council-adopted objectives," City Manager Derek Johnson said.

To add Read, the city "repurposed an existing position rather than a net add new position," said City Manager Derek Johnson.

The city has faced budget constraints due to rising pensions costs and has a "hiring chill" in effect, meaning it evaluates each and every job opening and analyzes whether opportunities exist to postpone filling positions or reorganizing for efficiency, Johnson said.

Read, who has a Master's degree from Cal Poly in city and regional planning, has worked on climate action plans, general plan elements and hazard mitigation plans for many communities statewide while a senior sustainability planner at the firm Michael Baker International, according to Robert Hill, San Luis Obispo's natural resources manager.

Read also was a lead author on a successful $3 million grant to help fund improvements on the the city's California to Pepper street railroad safety trail, Hill said.

"I think you will find Chris to be thoughtful, engaged and possessing a high degree of experience and passion for planning and local government in the field of sustainability," Hill told the City Council.

Nick Wilson: 805-781-7922, @NickWilsonTrib
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