COSTA MESA — City Manager Allan Roeder announced his retirement Wednesday, ending a 36-year career with the city that started with an internship in the mid-1970s.
Since then, Roeder managed to move up the ranks of the administration, first working in the Public Works Department, then as assistant city manager and then finally as city manager.
To ensure a smooth transition, he plans to retire in March.
"It is humbling to have been part of such a dedicated and talented team," Roeder said in a statement. "With the guidance and leadership of the current council and the many former city councils, we have together worked with the community to achieve numerous successes that are now part of the fabric of Costa Mesa."
Councilman Gary Monahan, upon hearing the news, commended Roeder for his hard work, noting that he "kind of saw it coming."
"I think he probably made the decision a while ago," Monahan said. "He's been phenomenal for the last 25 years. Sometimes, it's just time to move on. I appreciate everything he's done. Between the fairgrounds and the budget-union contracts, he's been a real trooper and a fantastic manager, but everyone knows when it's their time, and this is Allan's time."
Monahan said that he expects Roeder to stick around Costa Mesa after he retires.
"He lives and breathes Costa Mesa, so he's not going far," Monahan said.
After growing up in different parts of Orange County, Roeder was studying political science and history at Cal State Fullerton in 1974 when he heard about an internship with Costa Mesa.
He managed to get an interview, and a girlfriend he had at the time had coached him on the history of the city.
He didn't think he did well in the interview, but he still got the internship.
"Allan has been the cornerstone for the foundation that is our city government in Costa Mesa," Mayor Allan Mansoor said in a statement. "His leadership knowledge and truly dedicated service is appreciated so deeply by all of Costa Mesa."
The accolades began pouring in shortly after the announcement.
"He's done a great job, especially over the last couple of years between the city budget crisis and the fairgrounds issue," said Police Chief Christopher Shawkey, who's worked with Roeder since 2007. "It's rare to find a city manager so devoted to his community. He'll be sorely missed."
The City Council on Tuesday honored Roeder as the employee of the month, a surprise that brought him to tears as everyone in the audience stood to clap for him.
Roeder thanked everyone for their kind gestures. His emotions overflew when he began talking about his wife, Christie, whom without, he couldn't do what he does.
Joseph Serna and Mona Shadia contributed to this report.