Local news- Press Release
Westminster California - Get To Know Your City Leaders Interim Assistant City Manager Adolfo Ozaeta 20 May 2022 ( news )
Westminster , state California ( By Press Release office)
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By trade , Westminster’s Interim Assistant City Manager Adolfo Ozaeta is a civil engineer and a traffic engineer , holding state professional licenses in both fields of engineering . But since March 2020 , Ozaeta has been working in the City Manager’s Office to bring people together to face challenges ahead , both with the waning COVID - 19 pandemic and financial crisis looming with the sunset of the City’s Measure SS sales tax .
Having worked for the City of Westminster for 17 years , Ozaeta is known around City Hall for his work ethic , dedication , and calming demeanor . His experience as the Transportation Manager and prior to that as the City Traffic Engineer has helped him bring a unique understanding of city projects and priorities as the organization’s second top executive .
“I’ve earned a reputation as a hard worker and effective city liaison , ” he says , “bringing people together and ensuring the ground is laid for success among the community’s stakeholders . ”
Over the years , Ozaeta has focused more on special projects for the city’s administration and city council , and he considers his move to the city manager’s team a natural progression .
“The two are similar , ” Ozaeta says of traffic engineering and city management . “We interact with many people with differing priorities on a daily basis , develop relationships with colleagues and agency partners , and work together on common solutions . ”
From Traffic Control to City Administration Amid the COVID - 19 Pandemic
Ozaeta was tapped to fill in a critical role in the City Manager’s Office in March 2020 after the retirement of City Manager Eddie Manfro and the departure of Assistant City Manager Chet Simmons to neighboring Los Alamitos .
“Then - Interim City Manager Sherry Johnson saw something in me and gave me an opportunity that deviated from transportation and public works , ” said Ozaeta , who filled the double role of Interim Assistant to the City Manager/Transportation Manager .
Days after his appointment , the COVID - 19 pandemic hit and everything began shutting down , including city facilities .
Ozaeta recalls that early in the pandemic , as worried residents confronted the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus , a small but dedicated group of city leaders and staff continued to come to City Hall every day . The skeleton group wanted to ensure that the city kept running smoothly no matter what .
“Our team is exceptional , ” Ozaeta said . “A core group of us stayed , providing rental assistance , COVID - 19 testing , meals to our seniors , and other much - needed services . Police and Fire personnel continued to respond to our community’s needs . Public Works provided ongoing maintenance of the city’s critical infrastructure . Our constant presence is something that I feel helped the community get through the pandemic . I’m so proud of our staff and their dedication to community service , especially during the peak of the pandemic . ”
Ozaeta continued his dual role through 2020 and most of 2021 until he was appointed to Interim Assistant City Manager in November 2021 by current Interim City Manager Christine Cordon .
“The organization was experiencing a leadership vacuum and instability , ” recalls Ozaeta . “Interim City Manager Cordon represents our fourth city manager in less than two years , and in this role , I look forward to supporting staff and the Council as we move forward in this critical time in our city’s history . ”
As the interim assistant city manager , he works closely with Cordon to plan and implement policies and programs adopted by the City Council , as well as lead and guide city departments as they deliver services to residents .
Westminster is not a quiet city , Ozaeta says , but one of the busiest in the state thanks in large part to its burgeoning commercial development and the Vietnamese American community hub of Little Saigon .
“Our diverse city continues to improve every year as residents from different cultures coexist in harmony , ” he says . “We are here to make it happen — providing a conduit for funding , and laying out our vision for the city . ”
Ozaeta was zoned to attend high school in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles , but instead attended South Gate High School . Each summer , he stayed at his family’s ranch in rural northern Mexico in the State of Durango . This is where he learned the value of hard work . “On a ranch , there is no end to the workday , you work constantly around the clock , ” he said .
Visiting the region over the years , he noticed how new infrastructure such as paved roads , bridges , electricity , and running water , transformed the region , improved peoples’ lives , and saved lives as well .
“My admiration for the engineers responsible for the new critical infrastructure and improvements was my inspiration for becoming a civil engineer , ” he said .
Although he grew up in one of Los Angeles’ most socioeconomically challenged communities , Ozaeta was accepted to and attended the University of California , Irvine , on a full - ride scholarship and majored in civil engineering .
Prior to joining the City of Westminster , he worked at a private firm that provided transportation services for various cities and agencies throughout the nation .
“I was always excited about the projects , ” he said , “but it was frustrating to work on them , move on to a different project in another area , and never see the original project come to fruition . City government seemed like an environment where I could provide the most direct impact . ”
Paving the Way for the Future of Westminster
As an engineer , Ozaeta was able to see projects through the entire process from planning to delivery .
Since joining the city , Ozaeta worked to secure grant funding for many city projects . Either directly or in collaboration , he is responsible for more than $65 million in improvements coming to Westminster .
In addition , Ozaeta plays a key role in the San Diego ( 405 ) Freeway improvement project — the largest infrastructure project in the state; he leads the city’s project team and has overseen planning and construction efforts for the freeway project within the City of Westminster . He notes that the project , in addition to the freeway improvements , includes improvements to bridges that connect communities within Westminster , as well as street paving , park development , and improvements to bicycle trails and to pedestrian access .
Another project he’s proud of is obtaining funding for the new park monument recognizing the 1947 federal Westminster v . Mendez case that challenged Mexican remedial schools and ended the forced segregation of Mexican American students in local public schools .
The Mendez Tribute Monument Park is planned to be officially dedicated during the year of the 75
anniversary of the appellate court’s decision in the Mendez case . The space will be one of the first parks to include augmented reality in the form of interactive exhibits through the park accessed through visitors’ cell phones . In addition , the Mendez Freedom Trail , an extension of the park , will begin construction next year .
“It’s not your traditional engineering project , ” he says , “but it’s something I’m very proud of . As we move ahead not only in project design , but also in the overall vision of the city , it’s exciting to consider the possibilities . ”
As Ozaeta notices a family enjoying the Sunken Garden outside his office window at the Civic Center , he says with positivity: “It’s time to finally give the community what they have always deserved . ”
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