Public Works Head Resigns to Assume Key Energy Post
By Jorge Casuso
January 28 -- Craig Perkins, who helped make Santa Monica
a capitol of sustainability and a leader in the use of alternative
energy resigned his post as Director of Environmental and Public
Works Management Thursday.
After 15 years overseeing the department that maintains and improves
Santa Monica’s infrastructure – from removing graffiti
and improving street lighting to making sure the sewers flow and
the garbage is picked up – Perkins will take his skills and
expertise to a bigger arena.
|Perkins conducts bus tour
of City projects in 2005 (Photo by Gene Williams)
Perkins, whose last day on the job will be March 14, will take
over as executive director of the Energy Coalition, a non profit
organization based in Irvine, California that helps cities reduce
energy demand and greenhouse gas pollution.
“This is perhaps the most important policy challenge that
confronts us, and cities will play a key role in the solutions that
must be implemented over the next decade,” Perkins wrote in
his resignation letter dated Thursday.
“Over the past 25 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity
to create programs that have set the example for other governments
to follow,” Perkins wrote. “It is now the right time
for me, however, to transition to a new and different phase in my
“This decision has been very difficult for me both because
of the critical importance of the many EPWM projects and programs
that are currently underway and the close and productive professional
relationships that I have been able to develop with my colleagues
over many years,” Perkins wrote.
Perkins’ ambitious vision of making Santa Monica energy efficient
and self-sufficient spurred his department to seek ways to help
the environment while encouraging everyone else in the city to do
Under Perkins’ stewardship, Santa Monica was named one of
the five most sustainable cities in the country, and could have
ranked higher, if it weren’t for regional problems, such as
air pollution and lack of public transit, City officials said.
“Craig has put Santa Monica on the map by creating a number
of cutting edge Environmental Programs that are highly regarded
and have been replicated throughout the Country,” City Manager
Lamont Ewell wrote in a letter to City staff Thursday.
“While I am sorry to see Craig leave Santa Monica, I recognize
nonetheless that this is a great opportunity for him and the many
communities that will benefit from his leadership in energy reduction
demands and gas house gases,” Ewell wrote.
Overseeing a nearly $71.7 million budget and 388 employees, Perkins
was known for thinking big, as well as small.
He replaced the conventional light bulbs around the Promenade with
energy-and-maintenance-saving LED lights and oversaw the constructon
of what is likely the nation’s first sustainable solar-powered
And he foresaw a day when the entire community could slice two-thirds
of its energy demand by encouraging residents and businesses to
be more efficient and by giving them incentives to install thousands
of solar electric panels on rooftops across the city.
“You put those together, and Santa Monica, within its boundaries,
on a yearly basis, could come pretty close to providing all its
own electricity needs,” Perkins predicted in an interview
posted on The Lookout in August 2006. (see
Ewell said he would advise staff on how he plans to fill the key