City of SLO hires new employees after retirements

Two new faces are taking over high-profile positions within the city of San Luis Obispo as veteran employees retire.

Bob Hill, the former executive director of the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, has been hired as the city’s natural resources manager. He succeeds Neil Havlik, who retired in June after nearly 17 years in that post.

Also hired is Joseph Lease as the city’s chief building official. Lease, who most recently held the same title in San Bernardino, will start Nov. 26. He replaces Tim Girvin, who is retiring after 27 years.

Hill, making $90,166 annually, will oversee more than 6,000 acres of city-owned open space and manage an additional 3,000 acres of farm and ranch land protected through conservation and agricultural easements. City open space includes Johnson Ranch, Froom Ranch, Bishop Peak and South Hills.

A Cal Poly graduate, Hill has a master’s degree in city and regional planning. He has also worked with the city in the past on land preservation and habitat restoration projects, including acquiring Froom Ranch. He will join the city Dec. 3.

Lease, making $105,104 annually, will oversee the city’s building and safety division which includes issuing construction permits, plan reviews and compliance with storm water regulations. Lease, who has more than 28 years of experience working in local government, will also oversee the city’s Neighborhood Wellness programs and building and zoning code enforcement.

Lease was hired from a candidate pool of 56 applicants. His first day will be Nov. 26.

Girvin worked his way through the city ranks as a building inspector and in the utility department in wastewater collection and water conservation before assuming the duties of chief building official in December 2006. His last day will be Dec. 11.

The city has one more top position to fill — that of public works director. Jay Walter, who previously held that post, left the city in July after a decade for a similar job in San Mateo.

Fifty-five applicants have been whittled down to six candidates. The job is expected to be filled by the end of this year.