New City Engineer Hired

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.

April 19, 2024

Cindy Cecil has been hired as Morro Bay’s new City Engineer. Submitted photo

Morro Bay has a new City Engineer, filling a key position in the Public Works Department.

Public Works Director, Greg Kwolek, announced the hiring of Cindy Cecil to replace former engineer Eric Riddiough, who left Morro Bay to work for Caltrans, including on the Highway 46/41 “Y” interchange project.

Cecil was chosen out of three applicants, Kwolek said in a news release. The candidates underwent a thorough interview process, including interviews with a panel of City staff. Though she started her new job on April Fool’s Day (April 1), the job is no joke. She’s well qualified.

“Cindy,” Kwolek said, “brings a wealth of engineering and project experience to the City, and I’m excited for her to lead up our engineering team. One of our City Council’s main priorities is implementation of our capital projects, and Cindy’s 40-years of experience as a leader and a project manager make her well poised to help the City improve and maintain our critical infrastructure, such as our harbor, roads, and utility systems. 

“Her positivity and even-keeled spirit matches the Department’s way of doing business. I am thrilled for Cindy to come on board to develop a vision for City infrastructure in collaboration with the City Council, Public Works Advisory Board, and the Morro Bay community.” 

A licensed civil and structural engineer, Cecil holds a degree in Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly and her work experience includes some 25 years in the private sector, “working as a structural engineer with private consulting firms designing municipal, commercial, industrial, marine, utility, military, educational and residential projects,” Kwolek said. “Additionally, Cindy worked for San Diego Gas and Electric Company as a civil/structural engineering team lead, for the County of San Diego in Development Services and for the County of San Luis Obispo in Public Works.”

She’s got one problem licked that newcomers to the city have, finding housing. That’s because she already lives in Morro Bay.

“As a Morro Bay resident,” Cecil said, “I’m excited to have the opportunity to use my engineering and management background to help maintain existing City facilities and implement current and future infrastructure projects that will benefit our city. I’m looking forward to working with the City staff on several challenging projects, including the Embarcadero seawall and revetment improvements and the Highway 1/41 intersection improvements.” 

Her experience with marine issues should come in handy in the not-too-distant future, as the City prepares potentially accommodate the needs of offshore floating wind farms that are in the works. 

It’s unclear at this point how much the Harbor Facilities will need upgrading, however, the State and Federal Governments, who are championing these projects, appear ready with an open checkbook to help accommodate them. 

Already, Congress has appropriated $1.5 million for the North T-pier, funding a project of repairs and upgrades that hasn’t actually been created yet.

However, at least one State study estimated it could cost upwards of $50 million to do all that might be needed to accommodate what will be large boats for this small harbor. 

The City Engineer could be expected to play an important role in all this.

Cecil heads-up the City’s Engineering Department, which is a division under Public Works, and has four other full time employees. The Engineering Department manages traffic issues, encroachment permits, development reviews, and over three dozen active capital projects, including, water and sewer projects, pavement management, sidewalk repairs, Highway 1/41 intersection improvements, EV charging stations, and others. Cecil will also be finalizing an update to the City’s engineering standards as well as development of long-term capital planning, Kwolek said.

The announcement didn’t reveal what Cecil’s salary would be but the City’s current salary schedule (adopted for FY 2022/23) lists the City Engineer as a management position that pays from $113,000 a year at the starting level, to $137,000 a year on the top end plus a full compliment of insurance benefits and retirement. Someone with Cecil’s experience, would likely start at or near the top of the salary range.

The new hire continues the reboot of some of the City’s key positions. Previously, former Senior Planner Nancy Hubbard retired last December and was replaced in February by Kim Fowler. 

She was hired by former Community Development Director, Scot Graham, who also recently left Morro Bay after nearly a decade here.

Graham left to become Community Development Director in Pismo Beach, the same town he left to come to Morro Bay some 9½ years ago.

City Manager Yvonne Kimball temporarily filled Graham’s job with Michael Codron, a retired former community development director and planner with the City of SLO. Codron had been Pismo’s interim community development director, so he and Graham basically switched places.

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