San Juan Bautista official abruptly resigns

City manager came under fire over housing development

San Juan Bautista City Manager Roger Grimsely abruptly resigned Tuesday during closed session at the city council meeting.

Grimsely, who was also the city engineer, announced last year his intention to retire.

While the city council in March said it would start the recruitment process, Tuesday’s action left city leaders grappling for a replacement and they appointed Matt Orbach, the city’s community development director, as the temporary city manager.

The council said it would hire a separate city engineer.  

Grimsely came under fire from residents who live near the Rancho Vista housing development currently under construction.

Neighbors felt Grimsely, as the city engineer, turned a blind eye to substantial alterations that were being made to a section of the 99-unit housing development project.

The city council Tuesday said they were not aware of the alterations, which they called significant, until a few days previously when they started getting letters from lawyers of nearby residents.

“In our view that does not meet the standard to an automatic approval. It needs to be brought forward in a public meeting,” said Mayor Chris Martorana. “Alteration to that section of the map was not appropriate.”

Earlier in the meeting, Martorana said it was “not a happy day” but called the city manager’s resignation “the best course.”

Grimsley was involved in local politics for more than 40 years. He was city manager and public works director for Hollister in the 1970s.

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