After 16 years in local government across Santa Cruz County, Scotts Valley City Manager Tina Friend is leaving her post to start a new job in Coronado in September, the city announced Wednesday.
“This community has given me more gifts than I could have ever imagined,” Friend said in a press release. “My hope is that in my 16 years of public service in Santa Cruz County I was able to repay a small part of those gifts.”
Friend took over as city manager in 2019. Before that, she served as assistant city manager in Santa Cruz for several years. During her tenure with Scotts Valley, Friend led the city through the Covid-19 pandemic and the CZU Lightning Complex fires, which threatened Scotts Valley. Friend also worked to enhance the city’s fiscal sustainability, support post-pandemic economic recovery and improve community services.
The city, as many others across the nation did, struggled during the pandemic, particularly when it came to one of its biggest revenue sources—money from people staying at local hotels. In 2018-19 it pulled in $1.9 million from the tax and expected $2.3 million the next year. But it came up short with just $1.5 million in 2019-20.
Friend, along with the mayor and council, had to make some tough financial decisions because of the pandemic and ended up laying off the entire recreation department. But, recently, Scotts Valley started rebuilding, moving forward with new rec initiatives (like re-seeding the grass at Skypark), and doing a slew of hiring.
They’ve been looking for a full-time public works director to replace Scott Hamby, a longtime administrator who came out of retirement to do the job on an interim basis. Now, as the city’s back on track toward fiscal health, they’ll have one more, very important position to hire for—a new city manager.
“Tina is an invaluable member of the Scotts Valley family and her leadership was critical to our city,” Mayor Derek Timm said in a press release. “She helped stabilize our city finances, navigate the myriad challenges of the pandemic and steward our city through evacuations during the fires. She set our City up for long-term success, and her contributions are significant and long-lasting. Although we will miss her dearly, we are excited for her to embark on this new chapter in Coronado. We are proud of all that she has accomplished here and excited to see what she will accomplish in the future.”
Friend, according to the Coronado Times, was appointed Tuesday. Her annual salary will be $250,000.
Friend is married to Santa Cruz County Second District Supervisor Zach Friend, and together they have a 6-year-old son, Elliott. Zach Friend, a San Diego native, in a statement to this newspaper said he was “exceptionally proud and supportive of my remarkable wife.”
“To be selected to manage another storied community while giving our son an opportunity to spend more time with his grandparents as they age just speaks to who she is as a person,” the statement read. “Many families have carved a path for us on how to strike a balance between service and family, especially when distance and two professional careers are involved. My career isn’t more important than hers and I am committed to finding the balance in actively representing my district while also traveling regularly down there to ensure I am deeply present for Tina and our son.”