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Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 37  |  May 7, 2021


Council unanimously selects Shohreh Dupuis as next city manager

By SARA HALL

Following a nationwide search, three resident listening sessions, and several closed session City Council candidate interviews, a new city manager has been chosen.

Council unanimously selected current Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis as the next top city staffer. Council members voted 5-0 on Tuesday during a special closed session held in a conference room at city hall.

An employment contract for Dupuis will be presented to council for consideration and approval at its regular meeting on May 4. If approved, Dupuis will begin work in her new role effective June 12.

She’s excited and grateful to be selected, Dupuis said in an email with Stu News Laguna on Wednesday. She is completely ready to hit the ground running, she said.

“I love Laguna Beach and pledge to work tirelessly with the City Council, residents, and the business community to address quality of life issues for our residents, advance our economic recovery, make responsible budget decisions, and take steps to protect the unique character of our community,” she said.

She’s looking forward to collaborating with all the voices in the city.

Council unanimously Shohreh Dupuis 1

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Courtesy of City of LB

Current Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis was selected as the next city manager for Laguna Beach

Dupuis has more than three decades of experience in municipal government in Orange County, including management level positions with the cities of Irvine and Anaheim, the consulting firm of Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Orange County Transportation Authority, and County of Orange.

She brings strong, experienced leadership to the city during a critical time, Mayor Bob Whalen said in the statement. Issues related to quality of life, economic recovery, and responsible budget decisions need to be addressed in order to protect the unique character of Laguna Beach.

She has a great background in transportation and infrastructure, Whalen said in an email to Stu News Laguna on Wednesday.

“We have big issues to tackle with upgrading our sewer system, adding parking and sidewalks, and improving some of our aging fire stations so she will bring a lot of background to that discussion,” Whalen said.

She also has worked with the Coastal Commission on a number of issues, and we will benefit from her experience there, he added.

There are certain issues Dupuis feels ready to tackle right away, as she’s already up to speed on several specific challenges the city is facing. 

In an email on Wednesday, Dupuis specifically pointed out several:

--Implementing all the recommendations from the Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Report. These actions will mitigate the risk of a wildfire occurring in the city and minimize the impact should one occur.   

--Address quality of life issues for our residents caused by visitors such as trash, graffiti, and nuisance and criminal activities.

--Making the Promenade permanent.

--Develop new solutions to minimize the parking impacts to our residential neighborhoods.

--Assist the business community to fill the empty stores and help our city recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19.

--Continue to streamline the process for entitlement and development review. 

--Present a balanced, well thought City budget for City Council review and approval.

--Help the art festivals to reopen this summer safely.

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Courtesy of the City of LB

Shorhreh Dupuis accepting Innovative Transportation Solutions Award 

There was an extensive search to find the right person for the role.

“The city manager’s selection process was comprehensive, fair, and thorough,” Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf said in the statement.

Current City Manager John Pietig announced earlier this year that he planned to retire in June after two decades with the city. Prior to his current position as Laguna Beach’s top administrator, Pietig was assistant city manager for 10 years.

Executive recruiting firm Bob Murray & Associates was contracted to conduct a comprehensive nationwide search as part of the hiring process. The company held three public listening sessions and gathered resident feedback from an online survey. The council interviewed six candidates, according to the statement from the city.

The listening sessions emphasized several key issues in the city, including the division or opposing factions in town, listening and working with citizens, and creating a positive work environment at city hall. 

Dupuis will be addressing these concerns in her new role. She plans on conducting an employee engagement survey and a community survey in her first year as city manager, Dupuis confirmed in an email.

“I will work with all the groups in town and will listen to all the voices of our community,” she said. “I believe that feedback creates an opportunity for continuous improvement, enhancement of services, and setting priorities.”

Kempf also listened to all the comments from more than two dozen people that spoke during the listening sessions, she said in an email to Stu News Laguna on Tuesday.

With a population of about 23,000, it’s important to remember that the city manager is always focused on quality of life issues for the residents, she noted. Dupuis is very aware of the predominant issues in town, including tourist impacts, parking, traffic, neighborhood concerns, etc., Kempf explained in the email.

“(She) has been working in a very productive fashion to address these challenges in her current role as assistant city manager,” Kempf said. “So the fact that she lives and works here as well gives her a big head start as she assumes the role of city manager.”

Dupuis is not only the best candidate for the position, but will also ensure a seamless transition as the city recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining the focus on the quality of life for residents, Kempf said.

“In addition to being a dedicated and hardworking city employee, she is also very creative in her approach to problem-solving. Of course, none of us expected to be faced with the complexities of dealing with a global pandemic,” Kempf said. “When times are tough, the real leaders emerge.”

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Courtesy of the City of LB

(L-R) Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis, Mayor Bob Whalen, The Den Barbershop Owner Brandon Ferguson (LB CARES Grant Program recipient), and Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf

While the city was addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, Dupuis was instrumental in blunting the rapidly evolving effects of the pandemic in town, she said. 

“I think we are now well positioned to rebound nicely in the second half of this year,” Kempf said in the email.

She will provide good leadership on reviving our downtown and other commercial areas, Whalen agreed.

Kempf said she is looking forward to working with Dupuis in a collaborative fashion in the coming months and years. 

“We need to work together to make Laguna Beach the best city for all of us,” she said.

Dupuis has a “strong understanding of public agency administration and finance along with leadership skills and a big-picture perspective to successfully manage and operate the activities of a city,” officials wrote in the prepared statement. 

“I am very much looking forward to working with Shohreh and the rest of the Council as we work on behalf of residents to address local needs,” Whalen said in the email.

Over the last five years, she has played a pivotal role within the city in her current role and as director of public works. 

In addition to her efforts with the city’s COVID-19 response, Dupuis also worked on the development of the Laguna Beach CARES program that provided grant funding to the community and subsequent resiliency efforts, such as the Forest Promenade and working with the festivals to resume their programs safely. 

She led key council projects and programs, including the Village Entrance Project, development of the Wildfire Safety and Mitigation Plan, the resident-serving Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan, and citywide transit and parking programs.

“She was the main architect of our Neighborhood Protection Program and will continue to help us find ways to lessen the impacts of visitors on our residents,” Whalen said. 

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Courtesy of the City of LB

Shorhreh Dupuis with her family, husband Farzad and daughter Sunnyjoy

Dupuis immigrated to the United States from Iran in 1984. She and her husband, Farzad, live in South Laguna. Her daughter, Sunnyjoy, is a doctoral student in microbiology at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Dupuis holds a Bachelor of Science in applied mathematics from UC Irvine. She is also the recipient of several awards for her dedication to teamwork, customer service, and outstanding performance, and has been recognized as the Woman of the Year for her contributions to the transportation industry in Orange County. She was recently recognized as a leader by the National Iranian American Women’s Foundation.

 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

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