Former mayor now city planner

By From page A1 | July 08, 2013


PIERRE RIVAS chats with the Mountain Democrat at ZIa's on Main Street. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

He’s b-a-a-a-a-ck. At the June 11 Placerville City Council meeting, City Manager Cleve Morris announced that Placerville’s new community development director would be former Placerville mayor Pierre Rivas. Rivas, a principal planner for El Dorado County, left Placerville’s City Council in 2010 after serving two four-year terms on the council and one four-year term as a Placerville Planning Commissioner. He begins his new duties on July 1.

Rivas, 55, said he wasn’t looking for a new job after  23 years of working for the county, but ,”It’s the timing. The position opened up and I thought maybe a new direction would be a good step at this time in my life.

“This is a very unique situation. I’ve been in all the different areas and walked in their shoes, so I hope to facilitate communication between all the groups and better understanding, “said Rivas.  That includes his new department at the city which combines the services of the former planning and engineering departments and is involved with all new construction, including the Western Placerville Interchanges Project.

“My experience with  the county suturing together all kinds of different agencies will help me facilitate the combination of these departments,” said Rivas. “El Dorado County merged and demerged departments and we went through a similar situation between planning and engineering.”

The previous community development director, Mike Webb, had goals to pull the two departments into one cohesive team working on one floor of City Hall and to streamline customer service – goals that Rivas also supports. “I want to complete the plans to move the team and make the permit process streamlined for the customer,” said Rivas. “Time is money and we want to help people get from shovel to dirt in as timely manner as possible.”

Some of the projects Rivas was involved with as a planning commissioner and a city councilman, like the Cedar Ravine-Clay Street-Main Street Realignment Project and the Western Placerville Interchanges Project, are still in process and Rivas wants to help them move forward.

“Whatever is decided, there should be an apples-to-apples comparison for the benefits and limitations of each alternative so it can be looked at objectively and the decision based on factual information. My former positions with the city gave me a very broad vision of issues rather than the more narrow vision you might have working in a department.”

One challenge in his new job is the Hangtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant. “People have to have specialized skills to work there and earn certification,” said Rivas. “I want to get up to speed as soon as possible.”

Rivas plans meetings with former directors Mike Webb, Randy Pesses and Steve Calfee as well as all city staff to get the whole picture and find out what’s working and what is not.

Rivas likes challenges. In 2010, as Rivas wrapped up his year as mayor of Placerville, he wanted to use his newly acquired free time to climb more of the highest points in all 58 California’s counties. “I’d done 45 of them by 2010 and I’ve added San Jacinto Peak, San Gorgornio and Mount Stakes since then, “said Rivas. “I also climbed Mt. Vesuvius.”

After three weeks of wrapping up emails at his county job and a pie fest good-bye party featuring Rivas’ favorite pies à la mode, he is ready to start. “The county has a proactive focus on providing managerial training and I’ve been fortunate to have benefitted from it. I want to take those skills and make a difference for the city,” said Rivas.  “This is a great challenge and a good time to do this.”

Wendy Schultz

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