Palm Springs city manager submits resignation effective in 60 days
Palm Springs City Manager Justin Clifton informed city officials Sunday evening he would resign after 15 months on the job. (Photo: City of Palm Springs)

Palm Springs city manager submits resignation effective in 60 days

During Justin Clifton's tenure, the city first grappled with economic uncertainty brought on by the battle against COVID-19 — leading to job cuts at City Hall — then saw a rebound as visitors flocked to local hotels and vacation rentals.

Palm Springs City Manager Justin Clifton has submitted his letter of resignation. His last day in the role will be Sept. 16.

Assistant City Manager Teresa Gallavan confirmed early Monday that Clifton planned to tell city staff about his decision at a morning meeting and that a statement would be issued shortly afterward. The statement was issued just after Noon.

“I feel good about the work we have done together the last 15 months,” Clifton wrote in an email to city employees. “There are numerous important initiatives and projects that I look forward to seeing you complete. I’ve loved seeing numerous teams lean-in to building great workplace culture and know that you will continue that journey beyond my transition.

“I also feel good that there is a very strong administrative team in place to continue to steer the organization forward. I will work hard in the coming weeks to prepare for a seamless transition.”

Clifton is believed to be leaving to take a job in the private sector after 15 months in Palm Springs. He plans to honor the terms of his contract and remain in place for 60 days in order to help provide a smooth transition.

Clifton, who is paid $275,000 annually, came to Palm Springs in April 2021 after serving as city manager in Sedona, Ariz., for six years. His arrival ushered in the first change in the city manager role in two decades. David Ready, who retired in December 2020 but remained as city manager until Clifton arrived, began in 2000 and served under five separate mayors. Ready was often credited with shepherding the city through an economic resurgence.

During Clifton’s tenure, the city first grappled with economic uncertainty brought on by the battle against COVID-19 — leading to job cuts at City Hall — then saw a rebound as visitors flocked to local hotels and vacation rentals. The city’s recently adopted budget shows healthy growth and Clifton was sure to build in a safety net in anticipation of a possible recession.

Clifton was also instrumental in the city’s biggest effort yet to address the homelessness crisis that is consistently mentioned as the most pressing issue by residents: The city is moving quickly to build out a homeless services center on 3.6 acres it purchased earlier this year off McCarthy Road.

It was unclear what may have led to Clifton’s decision, but behind the scenes there were reports of friction as he tried to introduce new ways of conducting business to elected and appointed officials long used to working with Ready. Clifton is not expected to address his decision further.

Who, exactly, will replace Clifton remains to be seen. One possible candidate is Gallavan, who could serve in an interim role if a new city manager is not hired by the time Clifton departs.

Gallavan served as city manager in Selma, Calif., from 2018 to 2021. She resigned in May 2021 after a 3-2 vote by the Selma City Council to terminate her from her position. It is not known what led to that vote as it was made in closed session.


Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect comments from Clifton following a meeting with city staff.

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