March, 13, 2018 – With a long list of accomplishments in a career highlighted by 18 years in public service, San Mateo City Manager Larry Patterson announced today he will retire effective December, 2018.
As city manager, Patterson oversees a $293.5 million budget and an organization comprised of 650 employees across 11 departments that collectively serve a community of nearly 104,000 residents.
“My 18 years serving this community have been the highlight of my career. This has been a wonderful place to work and I truly believe public service has a valuable and lasting impact on the community,” Patterson said. “We have pursued big ideas and I’m proud to have had the support of a strong, forward-thinking Council.”
His departure will mark a 5-year tenure as city manager, which was preceded by 13 years as director of San Mateo’s Public Works Department. The City Council at its March 19 meeting will discuss the next steps for hiring a new city manager.
While truly a difficult decision for an executive who is recognized in the region for his personable leadership skills, Patterson felt it pertinent timing to hand over the reins of City leadership as several department heads are nearing retirement and his departure will allow a new city manager the opportunity to build their own team.
“It is an emotionally difficult decision for me, but I think it’s the right time,” Patterson said. “Adapting to future uncertainties and overcoming social as well as possible economic challenges will be key to assuring San Mateo continues to thrive. I want my replacement to have the opportunity to shape their own team to carry this well-run City forward.”
In reflecting on his career, Patterson found fulfillment in ushering a number of “big ideas” toward fruition. He championed the under-construction Caltrain 25th Avenue Grade Separation Project, which involved nearly two decades of planning and securing $180 million to elevate the rail line above three San Mateo intersections. He also progressed safety improvements at the nearly-completed realignment of the State Route 92 and El Camino interchange.
Patterson led the successful effort to establish a quarter-cent sales tax to fund public safety, recreation and infrastructure improvements. He initiated the $900 million Clean Water Program, which will enhance capacity of the wastewater treatment plant while benefiting the environment.
He helped implement a shared fire services agreement between San Mateo, Belmont and Foster City that saved these neighboring jurisdictions funds while maintaining or improving emergency response. Patterson also implemented a strategic planning process across all City departments and improved the City Council’s priority setting process.
Mayor Rick Bonilla said Patterson’s ability to achieve consensus through fine-tuned communication skills has been an asset.
“Larry is uniquely qualified and his experience enabled him to take the helm of a complex organization. He pulled Council together to get us moving cohesively and in an improved direction,” Bonilla said, before commenting on an upcoming executive recruitment process. “Larry’s going to be a hard act to follow. We need someone who has significant experience with a city that is undergoing change – from the social context of growing in a built environment, to tackling infrastructure projects that help improve our environment.”
Patterson joined San Mateo in 2000 as director of Public Works before being appointed as interim city manager in October 2013. The Council unanimously hired Patterson for the permanent position in March 2014.
Prior to joining the City, Patterson owned his own engineering firm that provided traffic consulting services throughout Northern California. He obtained a Master of Science from the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies, and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.
He has a held a variety of board and committee positions at local, regional and state organizations that focus on issues including transportation, government management, housing and economic development. In 2012, he was awarded the League of California Cities’ James L. Martin Award, an honor for leaders who’ve made valuable contributions to the public works profession. Patterson served on the Half Moon Bay Planning Commission and was elected to two terms on the coastside city’s council.
Councilman Joe Goethals said Patterson is the model of a modern city manager who has the ability to inspire both staff and council.
“Larry embodies the leader whose work ethic inspires a high-performing organization. He is more than a manager, he is a coach who puts every team member in a role that fosters personal success and contributes to the overall success of the team,” Goethals said. “On a personal note, Larry is so much more than a city manager to me. He has counseled me through challenging issues facing our community and done it all for his love of San Mateo and its residents. A truer friend I have never had.”
Patterson, a 67-year-old San Mateo County coastside resident, looks forward to spending more time with his wife, children and seven grandchildren. While unsure he will completely remain out of the workforce, he said he looks forward to having time to pursue hobbies such as learning a musical instrument and taking a creative writing course.
Visit here for Patterson's biography.