Carlsbad city manager resigns following year of transition

City Hall building

Carlsbad City Manager John W. Coates announced today that he is resigning his position following a productive year focused on completing several key City Council priorities.

“John was called to serve at a critical time of transition for our city organization,” said Mayor Matt Hall.  “During the past 12 months, he has accomplished an ambitious agenda, leaving us well positioned to continue on our path of becoming a truly world class city.”

Hall said the City Council asked Coates to increase the city’s focus on collaboration, innovation and organizational efficiency, as well as oversee the successful implementation of several high priority initiatives.

Among the accomplishments cited by Hall are a consolidation of city departments and creation of more cross functional teams that resulted in a $1 million annual savings to Carlsbad taxpayers.  Coates also oversaw the creation of a new technology plan for the city, the construction launch for the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere, and the development of the city’s most environmentally and economically sustainable park.  During his tenure, the city also became the first in the region to implement a “pay for performance” plan for city employees, creating a more business-like approach to employee compensation.

Coates joined the City of Carlsbad Jan. 4, 2010, as director of the Parks & Recreation Department and was named assistant city manager July 19 that same year.  He was named interim city manager last October, and the City Council appointed him city manager in March.

“This has been one of the most exciting professional challenges of my career,” said Coates.  “The City Council laid out a very ambitious 12 month agenda, and I am proud of the work we did together.  Now is an ideal time for the city to consider its future needs while I prepare for my next professional adventure.”

Coates has more than 30 years of professional experience, including serving as the director of community services for the City of Santee; director of parks and recreation for the City of Roanoke, Va.; the superintendent of recreation maintenance for the City of Norfolk, Va.; and a parks district supervisor for the City of Virginia Beach, Va.  He also has worked as a regional manager for a national consulting firm providing strategic counsel to local government agencies, including resource management plans, business plans, marketing plans, capital improvement assessments and organizational analyses.

City of Carlsbad Fire Chief Kevin Crawford has been appointed by the City Council to serve as interim city manager.  Following its annual goal setting session in January, the City Council will develop a strategy for filling the position long-term.

City media contact
Kristina Ray, communications manager, 760-434-2957 or



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