Changes at the Top : Palos Verdes Estates Chief Executive Quits

Times Staff Writer

Tom Devereux, 40, city manager during a period of controversy over city taxes and lawsuits over alleged storm drain damage, resigned this week.

The City Council accepted his resignation Tuesday "with regret." Devereux's resignation is effective Feb. 28, but he will stay on as a consultant at his current salary of $3,792 a month until no later than June 30.

Assistant City Manager Bill Fawell, 37, has been appointed interim city manager until the council recruits a replacement for Devereux, who has been city manager for 4 1/2 years.

In his letter of resignation, Devereux said he is leaving Palos Verdes Estates "to seek new administrative challenges in line with my career goals." He said that with the expected resolutions of lawsuits, the city "should enter a new period of relative peace and tranquility and attention can be focused on internal reorganization and transition."

Palos Verdes Estates has been hit by a series of lawsuits by Bluff Cove residents alleging property damage because of city negligence in designing storm drains.

Three suits have been resolved, with the most recent involving an out-of-court settlement last week in which the city agreed to pay nearly $1.7 million for an ocean-view home that was undermined by escaping water from a faulty city storm drain. Eight more suits, seeking about $2 million each, are pending.

Hard-hit by Proposition 13 in 1978, the city has relied on a series of temporary taxes to pay for police, paramedics and maintenance of streets, parks and public property. The council also passed a utility tax to pay for capital improvements. Two general tax proposals have been turned down, one in 1979 and another in 1984. The city is now studying a new tax that would replace the temporary taxes, which must be renewed every four years.

The city said a number of things were accomplished during Devereux's administration, among them development of the capital improvement program and reorganization of city departments, including consolidation of police, fire and paramedic services.

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