City Manager Doug Schmitz announced in a letter to the Los Altos City Council members that he was stepping down in March 2012 to end his 30-year career in running cities.
"Next month will mark the conclusion of my 30th year as a city manager, Schmitz wrote.
"I am leaving a municipal organization that has an outstanding staff, is in excellent financial condition and has plethora of long range plans to implement in the years ahead."
The City Council released Schmitz' remarks in a news release Thursday evening. Schmitz was not available for comment but said in his statement, "These past four years have been personally fulfilling and professionally satisfying. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve the community of Los Altos.”
Mayor Ron Packard had praise for Schmitz. "Doug has consistently exceeded the City Council's high expectations of him," Packard said, in the same news release.
"He has been exactly who the city needed to address the challenges and the opportunities before us."
Beyond the number of years he's worked, there was no further indication of why Schmitz is retiring in the fourth year of a five-year contract, Mayor Pro Tem Val Carpenter told Patch Thursday night.
"I think he was just ready to step away," Carpenter said, adding that she had not spoken with the city manager yet.
With Schmitz providing a seven-month lead, the city should be able to successfully search for a new city manager by March. And she expects that he will be flexible if they need more time to settle on a candidate.
Schmitz was hired away from the city of Lake Oswego, OR, in 2007 and given the task of moving the city ahead on a big wish-list of municipal aspirations. Prior to that, he had been city manager in Carmel, some of it while Clint Eastwood was mayor.
What Schmitz has done in those four years has been amazing, Carpenter said. He immediately set up strong communication channels with the council, reorganized his staff and made great hires, like Police Chief Tuck Younis and Finance Director Russ Morreale, she said. She ticked off the infrastructure projects, including the work on San Antonio Road, downtown intersection beautification, First Street undergrounding of utilities, the Loyola Corners improvements. She added the civic center plan, the downtown opportunity study, the bicycle master plan coming to completion and several more.
While some may complain about the rain and delays that have made downtown construction work seem interminable, the four years with Schmitz at the helm has been very productive, she said.
"He's just gotten a huge amount of stuff done that will benefit Los Altans for decades," she said.
Carpenter had been part of the search committee that had found Schmitz. When she and then-Councilman Lou Becker and others flew to Lake Oswego to check his references, she remember that city's mayor getting teary-eyed at the prospect of Schmitz leaving, she said.
"She didn't want Doug to leave," Carpenter said. "I kind of feel the same way."