City taps Garden Grove city manager to fill same role here

Pending a City Council vote, Scott Stiles will take over the role from Teresa Gallavan, the assistant city manager who had been serving as interim city manager following Justin Clifton’s departure last September.
Scott Stiles, currently city manager of Garden Grove, will become the new Palm Springs city manager, pending a vote by the City Council next week.

Scott Stiles, the current city manager of Garden Grove, has been selected by the Palm Springs City Council to fill the same role here, the city announced in a news release Friday morning.

Stiles has been in Garden Grove, population 170,000, for the past seven years and oversees the day-to-day operations of nine city departments with 640 employees. He will have similar responsibilities here, overseeing roughly 650 employees and taking over for Teresa Gallavan, the assistant city manager who had been filling in as interim city manager since Justin Clifton departed last September.

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In 2021, Stiles earned a base pay of $276,000 and total compensation of $437,500 with benefits in Garden Grove. His total compensation offer in Palm Springs has not yet been released. Clifton earned $275,000 base pay in 2021, with total compensation of $300,000.

“With decades of experience in city administration, he brings a wealth of expert knowledge and a desire to improve systems, mentor staff as they advance in their careers, and collaborate with residents and stakeholders to move Palm Springs forward,” said Mayor Grace Garner. “Scott will be an outstanding leader and we are excited to welcome him to the Palm Springs community.”

Elected officials had been inching closer to a decision in recent weeks, interviewing candidates before voting 5-0 on Jan. 13 to extend the offer to Stiles. Gallavan, who was not a candidate, was serving in an interim role. Clifton, the former city manager in Sedona, Ariz., had been in the role for 15 months when he announced his resignation in July. He replaced David Ready, who spent 20 years in the position.

Stiles came to Garden Grove from Cincinnati in 2015. He spent 27 years with that Midwest city, beginning in the Human Resources Department as a personnel analyst in 1987 and moving his way up to the city’s Law Department as an assistant legal administrator and then real estate manager before being promoted to assistant to the city manager in July of 2002.

The 64-year-old holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and geography from South Dakota State University and a master of community planning from the University of Cincinnati. While he dreamed of becoming a sportswriter at a metropolitan media outlet, he eventually became interested in city planning.

While in Garden Grove, he helped establish a continuum care strategy related to homelessness that involved the rollout of a mobile mental health program, the city’s first permanent supportive housing program, and a regional effort to open an 85-bed homeless navigation center. That experience should prove valuable as Palm Springs grapples with a spike in unhoused residents.

“The city of Palm Springs is one of the most vibrant, welcoming and diverse communities in the nation and I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead this dynamic city and resort destination as it moves into the future,” Stiles said in a written statement. “I look forward to collaborating with the City Council, community and staff and I am incredibly excited about this next step in my career.”

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