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Ex-Del Mar City Manager Takes Post in Seal Beach

Times Staff Writer

The City Council has hired former Del Mar City Manager Robert A. Nelson to take over the reins of city government.

Nelson, 46, held a press conference Tuesday morning and said one of his first tasks will be to oversee the city’s participation in the California Municipal Insurance Corp., a newly formed organization of 27 cities that will pool liability insurance, risk management and losses.

The council Monday night approved Seal Beach’s application for membership in the authority, formed in response to escalating insurance costs and cancellations of many cities’ liability insurance policies.

The new city manager said he became “an insurance expert” while in Del Mar and during his tenure as management services director for the City of Fremont from 1974 to 1978. Rising premiums forced him to “raise the safety consciousness of employees” and to do studies of risk management .

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Nelson, who will earn $56,783 annually and also receive a $250 monthly car allowance and $50,000 life-insurance coverage, sat in on Monday’s meeting but won’t begin his new job until May 1.

Nelson’s wife, Oceanside City Manager Suzanne Foucault, said the couple was looking for a home in Oceanside and planned to settle there. Nelson, she said, will maintain an apartment in Seal Beach for use after late-night meetings during the week.

Nelson is described in a city statement as a “beach person” whose “favorite stress reducer is body surfing.” A graduate of UCLA who grew up in Hermosa Beach, he has two adult sons and a 17-year-old daughter.

He said he is neither for nor against development, stressing that he would judge each project individually. The scope of development in the city is up to the direction of the council, he said, adding only that he is “not hesitant to ask (developers) to give the city a fair return.”

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If there is a regret in his municipal career, he said, it is that he once took a house loan from the city council in Del Mar, an arrangement that later became an issue when a later council asked that he repay the loan and interest--$101,000--immediately after he announced his resignation. Nelson and the council later agreed that he would have to repay $50,000 upon leaving office.


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