Santa Barbara City Attorney Ariel Calonne has been placed on paid administrative leave after an undisclosed incident with another attorney inside the City Attorney’s Office, multiple sources told Noozhawk.

City Administrator Rebecca Bjork confirmed that Calonne was on leave, but said she could not discuss any details.

“The city attorney is currently on a leave of absence,” Bjork said. “I am not at liberty to disclose personnel details. This extends to privacy around leave, and the type of leave.”

The City Council held a sudden closed session meeting at 9:30 a.m. on July 25, a Monday, when Calonne was placed on administrative leave.

Multiple sources told Noozhawk that the interaction between Calonne and the other attorney was heated and argumentative. The incident, observed by others, was reported to the city Human Resources Department.

Assistant City Attorney Sarah Knecht appeared in Calonne’s place at the previous two City Council meetings.

Santa Barbara City Attorney Ariel Calonne

Santa Barbara City Attorney Ariel Calonne, seen here in a 2019 City Council meeting, has been placed on paid administrative leave.  (Noozhawk file photo)

Members of the City Council declined to comment on the incident.

The city attorney is one of two staff positions the City Council directly hires and oversees, along with the city administrator.  

Calonne was hired in 2014, and earns about $280,000 a year. He previously worked as the city attorney in Ventura. 

Under Calonne, the city slowly beefed up enforcement and hired several prosecutors to enforce zoning laws.

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

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com.