San Mateo’s Community Development Director Lisa Grote announced her retirement yesterday after serving the city for three years.
In her role as director, Grote oversaw the city’s Building, Code Enforcement, Economic Development, Neighborhood Improvement and Housing and Planning divisions.
During her tenure, the department approved 660 residential units in six different development projects, approved more than 10,000 building permits, selected a new citywide permit tracking system and oversaw the state-mandated dissolution of the city’s redevelopment agency.
The accomplishments took place during an economic downturn, which resulted in a third of the positions, 17, being cut from the department.
She previously worked for San Mateo County as the director of the Planning and Building Department.
Before joining the county, she spent 11 years with Palo Alto, where she served for six as a zoning administrator and five as the chief planning official.
“She’s a consummate professional and I’m sorry we’re losing her,” said Councilman Jack Matthews, who first worked with Grote more than 25 years ago when she worked for Palo Alto. “She’s very high caliber. She will be difficult to replace.”
Grote is the third retirement in the department in recent months following the departure of planners Lisa Ring and Stephen Scott.
All three played a role in the approval and aftermath of the controversial 7-Eleven on San Mateo Drive that the city erroneously approved and for which it is currently being sued.
Mayor David Lim requested an audit of the Community Development Department back in April following several “gaffes” it had.
“Sadly, the decision to cut 17 staff members in CDD over the past four years has contributed to numerous high-profile gaffes in CDD that have caused the City Council to call for an independent audit of the CDD. This audit is in no way a reflection or indictment on the hard work provided by Ms. Grote or the hard work of the entire CDD staff,” Lim wrote in a statement.
City Manager Susan Loftus said Grote was a “tremendous asset” to the city’s executive team.
“Grote faced many challenges as San Mateo’s Community Development director as she implemented two major staff reductions due to both the huge drop in building activity and the dismantlement of the redevelopment agency. She handled these challenges with professionalism and sensitivity and was able to accomplish a great deal while she was here. Lisa will be missed and we wish her all the best in future endeavors,” Loftus wrote in a statement.
Grote plans to retire Sept. 4.
Monday, the City Council will conduct a special study session to provide direction to staff on what firm to select to complete a management audit of the CDD. The study session is 5:15 p.m., Monday, July 15, City Hall, 330 W. 20th Ave., San Mateo.
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