Costa Mesa is under the control of a new city manager.
Lori Ann Farrell Harrison was sworn in Monday as the city’s top appointed official and sat in on her first City Council meeting the next day. She is Costa Mesa’s eighth city manager since the city was incorporated in 1953 and the first woman permanently appointed to the position.
Farrell Harrison comes to Costa Mesa from neighboring Huntington Beach, where she had been the assistant city manager since 2017 and the chief financial officer for seven years before that.
She replaces Tamara Letourneau, who filled in after Tom Hatch’s departure in November. Letourneau will resume her role as assistant city manager.
Farrell Harrison will receive a starting salary of $260,000 per year, with an additional $141,185 in annual benefits. The council picked her in May after a four-month search.
“Ms. Farrell Harrison’s extensive background working in government and the private sector prepared her for the challenges ahead to ensure Costa Mesa plans for a fiscally sustainable future, with quality services and facilities for the community,” Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with her to restore our neighborhoods and parks, make our community safer, develop plans for economic stability and environmental sustainability and increase community engagement.”
Farrell Harrison said at Tuesday’s council meeting that she looks forward to working alongside the council, staff, residents and businesses to take “the city to its greatest heights.”
“Welcome to the jungle — no, I’m just teasing,” Mayor Pro Tem John Stephens said in reference to the city’s reputation for rough-and-tumble politics. “You will love Costa Mesa like we all do. You’ve already impressed me in less than 48 hours.”
Farrell Harrison comes to the city with 28 years of experience in the public and private sectors. Prior to Huntington Beach, she served as city controller and chief financial officer for the city of Long Beach. She has also worked for the state and city of New York.
She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University.