Rebecca Bjork, Santa Barbara’s new city administrator, selected Tuesday by the City Council.
Rebecca Bjork is Santa Barbara’s new city administrator, selected Tuesday by the City Council. She has been the acting city administrator since September. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

It’s official.

Longtime Public Works Director Rebecca Bjork will replace Paul Casey as the city of Santa Barbara’s top manager.

The Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday voted to appoint Bjork as city administrator.

She will earn $282,877 per year, plus benefits, according to the council agenda report. 

In recent years, Bjork had stepped in to rescue several ailing departments. Most recently she was the acting city administrator, selected in September.

Prior to that, she served as an assistant city administrator and interim community development director. She spent most of her years with the city as public works director.

“We are pleased to appoint Rebecca Bjork to the role of city administrator,” said Mayor Randy Rowse. “Her performance in the interim capacity has been accomplished and progressive, and we have every confidence that her experience, management skills, and dedication will continue to be an asset to the city of Santa Barbara.”

Bjork has worked for the city for more than 33 years.

According to a news release, she initiated work to simplify the land development process, and was instrumental in addressing homelessness and homeless encampments during the pandemic.

Prior to that, she spent five years as public works director overseeing the largest city department — with seven divisions, nearly 300 employees, and a budget totaling $138 million.

Among her accomplishments, she directed staff in the implementation and execution of the Measure C Capital Improvement Program for Infrastructure, according to the release. 

She also served as water resources manager with responsibility for water and wastewater utilities, which included the operation and maintenance of the Cater Water Treatment Plant and the El Estero Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Throughout her tenure, she has been instrumental in various renewal and replacement projects for water and wastewater mains, street infrastructure, and major facilities to extend the life of the city’s essential infrastructure, according to a news release. 

Bjork has a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental studies from Grinnell College in Iowa, and a master’s degree in public administration from Cal State University, Northridge. 

“It’s an honor to continue to serve the community in the role of city administrator,” Bjork said. “We have exciting opportunities and challenges facing us in the coming years. I’m very fortunate to be supported by city employees who provide the public with exemplary service, on all levels.

The City Administrator’s Office has been in a state of change for the past few months.

Bjork last year hired Rene Eyerly, former environmental services manager, as assistant city administrator. Matt Fore, senior assistant to the city administrator, left for a management job in Goleta.

Nina Johnson, the former senior assistant to the city administrator, ran for City Council in November, and has not returned to City Hall. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.