New City Manager is ‘A Perfect Fit’ for Morro Bay

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

August 25, 2023

Calling her a “perfect fit” for Morro Bay, the Mayor on Aug. 14 swore in a new City Manager, just the second woman to hold the City’s top spot in town history.

A gathering of citizens and City staffers rolled out a welcome mat to new City Manager, Yvonne Kimball, who takes over for former C.M. Scott Collins who left in March to become the Executive Director of the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo. The City Council had brought in Greg Carpenter as interim city manager and he’s been running the City for the past several months, while they searched for a permanent C.M.

The brief ceremony, highlighted by a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Morro Bay High School Choir President, Jocelyn Ocampo Mateo, gave Mayor Carla Wixom a chance to tell residents why they chose Kimball.  

Mayor Wixom said it was “a momentous day in Morro Bay,” and that Kimball, “brings a wealth of experience” to their leadership team. 

The Mayor said Kimball was “the perfect fit for our vibrant community.” Kimball, she said, acknowledges the challenges that lie ahead for the City, as they try to find a balance between “sustainable development and economic growth. We are thrilled to have you join our team.”

Kimball was given Resolutions and certificates suitable for framing from local State legislators’ staff reps. Clint Weirick presented her with a certificate from State Sen. John Laird’s Office; and Andrea Chmelik, a representative of Assemblywoman, Dawn Addis, who is from Morro Bay, presented a certificate from the State Assembly.

Kimball seemed pleased to have gotten the warm welcome. “I really appreciate you,” she said to the crowd of well wishers, “and the staff and Mayor for all you have done for me.

“Now, it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work, that’s all I have to say.”

Before being hired by Morro Bay, Kimball was the City Manager of Jackson, Calif., a small town in the northern foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Kimball had led Jackson’s 5,000 residents since 2017 and has over 15-years of city management experience. 

Kimball was the Town Manager in Dewey-Humboldt, Ariz., from 2012-17, and was City Manager at the City of Bowling Green, Fla., from 2008-11. 

She earned a Master’s of Public Administration Degree with a focus on Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Central Florida. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business English from the Tianjin Institute of Technology in China.

Kimball is just the second female city manager in Morro Bay’s history. Andrea Lueker, who worked her way up in the City hierarchy, held the top job for about 8 years leaving in 2013.

Kimball joins an all-woman City Council — another first for Morro Bay. 

Also, the assistant City Manager, Sarah Johnson-Rios, is a woman, as are the Chief of Police, the City Clerk and Harbor Patrol Chief among others in the City hierarchy.

Kimball comes to Morro Bay having missed the sewer plant controversy, as that mountainous, $170 million project is now completed. 

However, there is another battle on the horizon — Vistra Energy’s proposed Battery Energy Storage System or BESS, a $490 million project to build the largest (at 600 megawatts) battery storage facility in the world. 

But opposition to the BESS is strong and growing. On Aug. 9, the group “Citizens For Estero Bay Preservation” turned in over 1,400 petition signatures of voters supporting a ballot initiative that would require the City Council to seek voter approval for any changes in zoning needed to clear the way for the BESS.

The City is currently in the environmental review stage of the project with a draft EIR expected to come out around the end of this year.

The City is also embarking on a study of road conditions in town with an eye to coming up with a plan to address whatever safety issues the study may identify.

So while it may be the dog days of summer, there is no respite from controversy in this community.

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