San Luis Obispo City Attorney Jonathan Lowell, who is also the incoming president of the League of California Cities City Attorney Department, will succeed Michael Roush as City Attorney for Pleasanton starting Jan. 1, it was announced Tuesday.
The announcement by Mayor Jennifer Hosterman comes after an extensive regional search for Roush's replacement. Roush, city attorney here since 1988, officially retired early last month although he has remained at his desk on a consulting basis ever since. It's expected that he will continue to represent Pleasanton as its attorney until Lowell takes over.
Lowell has been city attorney in San Luis Obispo, a city with a population of 43,000, since 2003. At one time he was the assistant city attorney in both Livermore and Hayward and the city attorney for San Bruno. He was also in private practice with the San Francisco law firm of Curiale, Dellaverson, Hirschfield, Kraemer & Sloan.
He received his law degree from UC Hastings College of Law and holds a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley.
"After a comprehensive search to fill this vital position, we are confident that Jonathan Lowell exceeds the rigorous criteria for the position of City Attorney," Hosterman said. "He is well versed in land use issues, negotiations, CEQA (the California Environmental Quality Act) actions, and the full range of legal and administrative proceedings that we are presented with in Pleasanton."
"Jonathan brings the additional benefit of a statewide overview of the legal challenges facing California cities in his role as the incoming 2011 President of the League of California Cities City Attorney Department", she added.
In his role as Pleasanton's City Attorney, Lowell will provide advice and counsel to the City Council, City Manager Nelson Fialho and city staff. He will manage a legal department that handles the city's contractual, regulatory, and litigation matters that typically include open meeting and public records laws; conflicts of interest; land use and environmental laws; claims and litigation; municipal elections; employment and labor relations; code enforcement, and other legal matters.
Both the city manager's and city attorney's positions report directly to the City Council.
"I look forward to working with my peers in the city of Pleasanton, which has an excellent reputation as a well managed city," Lowell said in accepting the position. "I was drawn to the collaborative approach that the city takes to community issues and look forward to becoming a part of that effort."
Lowell was born and raised in Alameda County, where his parents and others in his family live. He currently resides in San Luis Obispo and plans to relocate to the area. He told the San Luis Obispo Tribune yesterday that he and his partner will be able to move closer to their elderly parents "who are all getting to where they need me close by."
Over the weekend, Lowell advised San Luis Obispo Mayor Dave Romero and the City Council of his decision to take the Pleasanton city attorney's job and that he would step down at the end of the year. Since becoming San Luis Obispo's city attorney six years ago, he has hired an entirely new office staff, including Assistant City Attorney Christine Dietrick, who is expected to apply for his position. The pay range for city attorney in San Luis Obispo is $140,000 to $175,000.
Although Lowell's starting salary in Pleasanton has not yet been disclosed, Roush's base pay as of his retirement date was $191,380.
Roush will receive a pension from the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) based on his final year's base pay for each year of service to a maximum of 90 percent, which Roush will be entitled to receive. He also received a cost of living increase this year which will be added to his 2009 base pay, but accrued vacation and any other financial benefits are not part of the base pay formula that CalPERS uses.
Pleasanton will be responsible for a pension payout formula for the 21 years Roush worked for the city with the other 11 years the responsibility of the city of Vallejo, where Roush first worked.