‘I would like to think I’m a pretty good listener … ‘ — Scott Stiles
PALM SPRINGS — Chosen from a field of 68 applicants, following a nationwide search, Scott Stiles is settling into his new role as city manager. He officially began duties March 6, replacing the short-lived stint of Justin Clifton.
Before coming to Palm Springs, Stiles was employed as the city manager for Garden Grove in Orange County. Prior to that role, which he accepted in 2015, he was the interim and assistant city manager in Cincinnati. He spent a total of 27 years working for the city of Cincinnati in roles including personnel analyst and real estate manager.
He earned unanimous from the five-member City Council. His contract includes a salary of $325,000 per year for four years. According to the Jan. 26 minutes, his contract additionally includes:
- Auto Allowance: $500/month
- Retirement: Per PERS contract: 2% @ 62
Paid Time Off: 10 hrs. vacation/month, with 40 hours of admin. leave/year
- Severance: 12 months, reducing over the term of the agreement
- Moving/Housing Expenses: $12,000
- Temporary Housing Allowance: $3,000/month for six (6) months
To help the community get better acquainted with Stiles, Uken Report (UR) posed a series of questions to the new leader of this international tourist destination. Following are his responses.
UR: Why did you want this job?
Scott Stiles: Three reasons:
- Coming out of the pandemic, I knew the City Administrative staff had gone through a tremendous amount of change. I felt I could bring some stability to help the team focus on the priorities of our City Council and the community.
- I was excited to engage, and become involved, with such an iconic, diverse, and vibrant community.
- Just like everyone else, my family and I have always loved spending time out in this wonderful part of the world.
UR: What attracted you specifically to Palm Springs?
Scott Stiles: In Cincinnati, where I worked for 27 years before my time in Orange County, there was a robust network of 52 community councils. It was quite ironic to learn that Palm Springs also has 52 recognized community organizations. I’m looking forward to interacting with them all!
UR: You no doubt studied the city while preparing for the interview. What in your mind are the biggest challenges and what do you plan to do to address them?
Scott Stiles: Like many cities in California, addressing issues of homelessness are very important. Affordable housing and support of our vibrant hospitality and small business sectors also comes right to mind. Specifically, regarding homelessness, there’s no one-size fits all approach. My experience is that a comprehensive continuum of care strategy that includes temporary and permanent supportive housing, compassionate mental health services, and enforcement/apprehensive of those individuals committing crimes is all part of the solution. Also, political boundaries do not perfectly comport with the needs of homeless individuals. Regional solutions are important.
UR: How will you go about introducing yourself to the community and getting acquainted with residents?
Scott Stiles: It’s been a busy first week on the job. Councilmembers and City staff are quickly getting me introduced to important neighborhood, business, and non-profit stakeholders who are leaders in the community. In some cases, I also have some prior relationships to people in the greater Palm Springs area who have been helpful to me. For my entire career, I’ve always lived, and immersed myself in the community where I work. That’s how I’m wired. There’s no doubt that commitment will help me connect more quickly and personally with those whom I serve.
UR: What should Palm Springs be doing differently?
Scott Stiles: I have a lot more listening and learning to do, from a wide array of community perspectives, before presuming to make many judgements. I am quickly working with our talented City staff to analyze internal operations that might help us enhance service delivery.
UR: What are your greatest strengths in the workplace?
Scott Stiles: I would like to think I’m a pretty good listener, who can take the creative, problem-solving suggestions from others, and get them implemented.
UR: Tell us about yourself. Family? Children?
Scott Stiles: My wife and I have two daughters. The oldest is an aspiring, young cinematographer in the terrific film and media arts program at Chapman University, and the youngest is a junior in high school who is beginning to think about furthering her education at the next level.
UR: What are your hobbies?
Scott Stiles: I work way too much. As a City Manager, the idea of separating my personal and professional life just doesn’t work too well. I enjoy the many enriching activities that come along with the job. I will play a round of golf on occasion and go scuba diving off the shores of Avalon on even rarer occasions. I’m also curious to explore the many cultural institutions wherever I might be.
UR: Tell readers something that is not on your resume.
Scott Stiles: I grew up in a small South Dakota town on the shores of the Missouri River. I’ve tried to maintain an internal compass of curiosity that has taken me on a journey from there, and on to Cincinnati, Garden Grove, and now Palm Springs, which is where I hope to remain for a long time.
UR: Is Palm Springs more alike or different from Garden Grove? In what way?
Scott Stiles: Certainly, every city has their own personality. Both cities celebrate diversity in very unique but different ways, they understand the importance of the hospitality industry to their economies, and they both talk about the weather a lot! However, I must conclude by saying, Palm Springs is “like no place else.”
- Scott Stiles: City of Palm Springs
- Scott Stiles and Mayor Grace Garner: City of Palm Springs