Longtime San Rafael City Manager Jim Schutz says he plans to retire effective July 1.
Schutz, 54, took the top administrative role in 2015 after eight years as assistant city manager. At retirement, he will have spent eight years as city manager and more than 16 years total in San Rafael.
Schutz said he decided in the summer of 2021 that he would retire in two years.
“I wanted to see the city through to the other side of the pandemic,” Schutz said, “although we haven’t emerged entirely.”
“Also, that would give me eight years as city manager, which I thought was a good run,” he said.
Schutz has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and city planning from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has a sustainable practices certificate from the business school at Dominican University of California in San Rafael.
Under his tenure, Schutz has led the city through both the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic; worked to get the city’s public safety center funded and built through a voter-approved measure; and completed several capital improvement projects, including the new Grand Avenue Bridge.
“Once arriving in San Rafael, I never looked at another opportunity,” he said. “This is the place I chose to make the most important part of my career, to make it a hometown for my kids and family. I have a deep affection for San Rafael and I am so honored to have been able to spend over 16 years here.”
In addition to the Great Recession and the pandemic, the city has faced other challenges and criticisms over its homelessness efforts and a violent arrest that injured a man in the Canal area this summer. Two officers have been placed on leave pending investigations.
“There are always challenges,” Schutz said. “Homelessness, racial equity issues, climate change, these are huge national issues that we’re trying to have a positive impact on at the local level. It’s very complex, which makes the work so meaningful.”
By contract, Schutz is required to give a six-months’ notice, but he is giving eight to help ease the transition, he said. City officials will soon begin a nationwide search to find a successor.
Schutz has an annual salary of $273,072.
“Jim has been an incredible city manager and a leader,” said Mayor Kate Colin, noting that he created a work culture that inspired innovative work by the employees.
“He also has a rare ability to really connect and engage with the community,” Colin said.
Joanne Webster, chief executive officer of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, agreed.
“He’s been incredibly responsive to the business community, and has had the ability to make quick decisions that impacted us all in a very positive way,” Webster said, pointing to the city’s outdoor dining program as an example. “Over the years, I’ve gotten to know him as a person, too, and he is a wonderful person who has integrity and is genuine.”
Schutz said he is looking forward to writing in his retirement as well as teaching and coaching. He said he enjoys volunteering as a guest lecturer at colleges to give talks about public administration.
“I’d love to do more of that,” he said. “Now is a good time to explore other things.”
Colin said that while the city will embark on a nationwide search to find a replacement, Schutz has built an excellent staff.
“I’m hopeful to have an internal candidate compete for the job,” Colin said.
Assistant City Manager Cristine Alilovich, who was hired in 2015 after working as assistant director of finance for the county, said she plans to apply for the post.
“I love San Rafael, and I’ve loved working with Jim,” said Alilovich, 49. “He’s been a great mentor, and I learned a lot from him the last seven years. It would be a great honor to serve as the next city manager.”