Search for Laguna Beach city manager continues as Sean Joyce’s time in town ends

Gavin Curran will serve as acting city manager of Laguna Beach.
Gavin Curran will serve as acting city manager of Laguna Beach. Interim City Manager Sean Joyce’s last day on the job will be Friday.
(Courtesy of the city of Laguna Beach)

Laguna Beach will experience more reorganization of city leadership, as interim City Manager Sean Joyce participated in his final regular meeting of the City Council on Tuesday.

Joyce, who retired as the city manager of Irvine in 2018, was brought in to fill the role on Sept. 7. The hire took place following the exit of former City Manager Shohreh Dupuis, who reached a separation agreement with the city on Aug. 24.

Recruitment to find the next permanent city manager in Laguna Beach is still ongoing.

“The City Council has appointed Gavin Curran, the assistant city manager, to serve as the acting city manager following the interim city manager’s departure this Friday, when he turns into a pumpkin,” City Atty. Megan Garibaldi said when she reported out of the closed session proceedings.


Joyce received a round of applause, and a standing ovation from some members of the audience, upon delivering his closing remarks from the dais.

Sean Joyce, pictured, began serving as Laguna Beach's interim city manager on Sept. 7.
Sean Joyce, seen speaking during a Huntington Beach City Council meeting, began serving as Laguna Beach’s interim city manager on Sept. 7.
(File Photo)

“Thank you for having me,” Joyce said. “I appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed every day of it, and thanks to the staff for tolerating me, and thank you to the community for allowing me to be here for seven months and serve you. It’s been compelling but a joy and just reinvigorating, as well.”

In the aftermath of an apparent “Zoom bombing” incident during the City Council meeting on Feb. 13, Joyce made the call to have public testimony made in person or via email. A group of remote participants had used the online meeting platform to make offensive and hateful comments, leading to the decision to move on from audible public comment online.

“It’s been fun to work with him for seven months, and we got a lot done, a lot accomplished, and obviously from the reception there, I think a lot of people in the community appreciate your efforts,” Councilman Bob Whalen said. “Thank you. Wish we could have stretched it out a little more.”

Under state guidelines, Joyce was able to serve in the role for a maximum of 960 hours within the fiscal year. Joyce has also spent time as an interim city manager for Huntington Beach, San Clemente and South Pasadena. Before retiring, he served as city manager of Irvine, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.

Laguna Beach had three city managers in four decades prior to the transitional period overseen by Joyce. Ken Frank held the top job from September 1979 to December 2010, followed by John Pietig until June 2021. Dupuis succeeded Pietig.

Council considers adjustment to campaign contribution limit

The City Council was asked to weigh in on whether the campaign contribution limit should be adjusted to reflect the total change in the consumer price index.

Council members George Weiss and Whalen, both of whom are in the final year of their respective terms, recused themselves from the item.

The balance of the council voted unanimously to have an ordinance prepared that will adjust the campaign contribution limit amount from $440 to $520. Council members also directed the city clerk and city attorney to come back with an ordinance that would allow for automatic adjustment to the campaign contribution limit based on the consumer price index.