Deputy City Manager Rob de Geus, a City Hall veteran who has been temporarily leading the Palo Alto's new Department of Transportation, will be stepping down at the end of February to start a new job as city manager of Westlake Village in Los Angeles County.
De Geus, who joined the city in 2000, had spent most of his tenure in the Community Services Department where he started out as recreation coordinator. He was promoted to director of community services in 2015 and spent two years in the department's top position before transitioning to the city manager's office.
Since then, he has been leading the city's various community engagement efforts and assisting with various infrastructure projects, including the renovation of the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course, which reopened last year under the aegis of Baylands Golf Links, and the renovation of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, a project that is now being constructed, mostly with private funding.
He has also been heavily active in Project Safety Net, a collaborative effort between the city, the Palo Alto school district and the broader community that was formed after a cluster of teen suicides and that focuses on youth well-being. He has also been heavily involved in the city's recent efforts to lower costs for its animal services and its swimming program at Rinconada Pool, which culminated in public-private partnerships with Pets In Need and Team Sheeper, respectively, in December.
Most recently, de Geus had seen his portfolio expand even further to include transportation. He has been the public face of the city's effort to redesign the city's four rail crossings, a project often referred to as the largest infrastructure project in Palo Alto's history. He has also been managing the city's newly formed Office of Transportation, which has been short-staffed since last August, when the city's Chief Transportation Officer Joshuah Mello resigned to become a district transportation lead at Google.
City Manager Ed Shikada announced de Geus' resignation on Friday. He said de Geus will remain with Palo Alto through February to assist with transitioning the work that he oversees.
"The recruitment of Rob to the next level as a city manager is testament to the high caliber of our employees who are sought after by other cities," Shikada said in a statement. "Rob has been with Palo Alto for nearly two decades, and this is a great opportunity for him both professionally and personally. We appreciate Rob's long service and dedication to this community, and thank him for his many contributions to improving the quality of life for our residents."
In the announcement, Shikada added that the city has not yet made a decision about recruitment for the deputy city manager position (one of two such positions in the city manager's office). That will be part of the city's ongoing organizational assessment about how best to prioritize resources and personnel across the city, Shikada said.
De Geus' impending departure is the latest in the series of executive-level openings at City Hall. City Auditor Harriett Richardson also plans to retire on Feb. 15. The city's Fire Department has a temporary leader in Geo Blackshire, who will be filling in until a permanent chief is selected to succeed Eric Nickel, who started working as chief of the Santa Barbara Fire Department earlier this month.
The city is also searching for a planning director, chief financial officer, chief information officer, development services director and community services director, a job de Geus previously served before becoming deputy city manager in 2017.