Telluride Town Manager Frank Bell to Leave
by Karen James
Feb 02, 2010 | 3614 views | 15 15 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Accepts Private Community Manager Job in California TELLURIDE –Town Manager Frank Bell has accepted a position running a private community located along a 10-mile stretch of Northern California’s Sonoma County Coast called The Sea Ranch, he confirmed on Tuesday.

“This opportunity in California is a super way for me to finish my career,” he said. “It’s not so much leaving here as going there.”

As the new Community Manager of The Sea Ranch, which is located about three hours drive north of San Francisco along California’s Highway 1 near Gualala, Bell will oversee a staff of about 45. His tentative start date is March 23.

“It’s a really good move for him,” said Mayor Stu Fraser, who expressed sadness at Bell’s imminent departure, but recognized it as a positive career move for Bell.

“I’m going to miss him a lot, but he’s moving to a job that would be difficult to turn down,” he said.

Conceived in the 1960s as an eco-community, The Sea Ranch maintains its environmental focus with very restrictive development codes, Bell said.

“The entire place is a quite private, high-end community,” he explained. “The homes are built to fit in to the natural landscape and they have a really strong environmental agenda.”

According to The Sea Ranch Association website, the community has approximately 2,288 lots on over 3,500 acres and is at more than three-quarters build-out.

It has its own airstrip, several recreation centers, a privately run lodge, a golf course, a non-denominational chapel, an extensive network of trails, and access to public beaches.

“It’s set up like a municipality, it’s just private,” Bell said.

With no commercial development (Gualala provides the closest commercial services) and “relatively basic infrastructure,” “They have a lot of service delivery challenges and they’re really reaching out to understand what they’re going to look like in 10 years,” he said.

Bell is in the process of putting together a transition plan that he will present to council at its next meeting on February 16.

“We’ll know more after the 16th and what involvement I will have in the greater transition,” he said.

“My hope is to work with council and to have a smooth transition,” said Bell, who indicated that he plans to continue in his position full-time until he departs for California.

Despite the town’s budget woes and council’s dependence on Bell for frequent updates, Fraser did not see the timing of Bell’s pending departure as especially inopportune.

“The budget seems to be getting better,” said Fraser. “Last year at this time would have been very different, but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a skip loader or a train or anything like that.”

“I think the world of Frank,” Fraser said. “The last four years have been tremendous working with a man of his knowledge base. He was amazing; he guided us through some very difficult times.”

Comments
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tea party
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February 04, 2010
Careful what you wish for you just might get it. Mayor Stu has left every budget he's been in controll of in a shambles . The next manager will probably find huge accounting errors that we'll all have to pay for. The town used to contract labor for the building dept,now we have a huge payroll for people who have nothing to do but collect paychecks and benefits, and ski on flex time.

Its time to thin the heard put non essential employees on contract and balance the budget-raising taxes is not the way to do it. Giving 30 percent of our budget to non profits is wasteful. Let the free market rein.
Stephanie Warner
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February 03, 2010
So long my friend. I hope you and Linda have a happy adventure. You were a wonderful boss and friend. You will be missed by many.
John Pryor
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February 03, 2010
I can't say I agreed with everything Frank Bell believed in but one thing for sure, I respected his experience and professionalism. Talk about a difficult job? We hired Frank from a weak pool after searching for 5 months. (I wonder why no one wants to work here?) The previous Manager Jay Harrington quit with frustration after just over 2 years.

Frank was a good public administrator and deserves our thanks for 4 years of dedicated service.

With respect,

Former Mayor John Pryor

ps It is indeed embarrassing as former Mayor to hear un-named cowards mean spirited criticism.
This is a great
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February 03, 2010
opportunity for the Town to get an experienced Town manager who is in sync with the needs and desires of the community -- at last. I agree that FB has been more interested in feathering his own nest than dealing with a serious economic situation in the town -- at the expense of businesses and others. Given the economy, I'll bet the Town gets many applications from qualified candidates. Let's hope that the new manager is required to live in town.
FaceOnMars (nli)
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February 03, 2010
I don't believe Frank explicitly advocated for or against anything in particular ... since I believe he knows how to choose his words carefully.

I believe that he essentially worked as a "staff proxy" to further the agenda of what was once a "pro-development" majority of town council. I don't know if he actually shared the same philosophy, but I do think he realized which way the wind was blowing.

I'm of the opinion that much of what we saw in Frank's policy & actions were much more a direct result of the prior council's position (as far as the appearance of "pushing taxes" and such).
JS Galen
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February 03, 2010
Residents of Sea Ranch are grateful for The Watch and are reading each and every Comment . . . your experience and perspective are appreciated.
Watch Publisher
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February 03, 2010
Yes, TCHPA, the public forum can be unruly, which is why we will monitor it as little as possible. From my perspective Frank did not advocate so much as present options. And the voters decided. And we got what we asked for. For better or worse. But whatever!

SC
THCPA
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February 03, 2010
Hi Seth-

Ad hominem attacks they may be but they do reflect a frustration with Frank's complete divorce from the electorate of Telluride. Simple as that.

Frank Bell, as an architect of public policy, a manager of public policy, and an employee of public funds (his entire career?) exerts considerable influence on the people he serves. Thus, he gets the wine and the aftertaste (expressed by ad hominem attacks).

I agree with you that we have gotten what we asked for in government. Ad hominem attacks are expressions too, guaranteed by the First Amendment, for those unhappy with the status quo. Perhaps not as tasteful as the person who has time to go to the town meeting and read from an index card but ad hominem attacks are an important source of First Amendment expression. (The Boston Tea Party was criticized too!)

Frank would be wise to listen to them (as well as other community leaders listening in).

Yes, entrenched public servants are not serving the electorate (the disease). On a federal level, the Tea Baggers have been slandered as 'ad hominem" and worse but they are bringing real change to the course of events (health care reform-now in limbo-for better or worse); here in Telluride we should encourage all voices to speak out, even the distasteful ones; surely Frank Bell can take this criticism-he was tough enough to ignore the will and voice of the voters in the most formal of communications (three bond measureds he sponsored were not even close) -he should be tough enough to hear a few catcalls from the people he has fed off of all these years.

Watch Publisher
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February 03, 2010
THCPA,

I just want to be clear that in my prior posts it was not my intention to address the policies that Frank Bell administered or to discuss his abilities. My intention was to express my belief that ad hominem attacks are both unfortunate and telling.

Your comments speak to issues and I welcome them. We might or might not agree on those issues, but I hope this website will increasingly be a place where facts can be presented and philosophies and policies debated.

As to your question: At what point will I take a look at the public environment I support? I understand the thrust of your question and as a local resident and occasional columnist I believe I do engage with public issues. While you and others clearly believe our local Telluride government has lived too high on the hog, I tend to believe we have gotten precisely the government we asked for, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

Telluride has long been a place that demands much more of its local government than your average community: restrictive land use codes that require much oversight, lots of open space that requires lots of cash to acquire, generous public services, and so forth.

Not incidentally, for as long as I have lived in Telluride, twenty years, government jobs have been the best and most secure jobs out there: school district, fire district, town government, county government. In my view, this is very definitely symptomatic of a disease. I don't think it is the cause of the disease, however.

Seth Cagin
thcpa
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February 03, 2010
Seth-

Frank Bell never saw a tax increase he didnt like.

Thats a fact.

Frank Bell, in the midst of the largest economic crisis in world history (in sheer dollar values lost) was out beating the drum to repair the Spur at 15mm dollar cost. Consider that the cost to repave Dallas Divide was 3.5 mm in ARRA funds, this was an exceptional expenditure! The election results clearly indicated that Frank was divorced from the thoughts of the residents of Telluride.

Thats a fact.

Here in Telluride a good portion of people are unemployed or underemployed and losing their credit ratings or even homes...and yet Frank pushed two tax increases last election...pushed them hard. Instead of cutting costs. The election results clearly indicated that Frank was not in touch with the people who live in the town he "managed".

Thats a fact.

Here in Telluride, where jobs have vanished like the wind, the best jobs in town are at Town Hall. The cart before the horse. How large a building department do you need when there is no building going on?

At the end of the day, the Telluride Watch continually scoops its local competitor, provides superior editorials and columnists and updates its website the instant news is made. Lets not kid each other on this...this occurs because you and about 3 others working for you work for less than minimum wage 80 hours a week..at what point will you take a hard look at the public environment that you support? 35 hour work weeks, ski passes, full benefits, lifetime employment, guaranteed paychecks...these only exist over at Rebekah hall and not down on Pacific Ave.

Frank has been on the wrong side of the people who work and live here for at least the last three elections (as measured by the election results on issues he trumpeted)...and in so many other ways, too.

This is a great time for the new council to find someone who more represents a sustainable Telluride.

Brian Ahern
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February 03, 2010
Seth ,Thanks for the info and I guess until I see you walking the streets of Telluride or closing a business this time of day, we will have to agree to disagree. I helped found the Marshal's Citizen Advisory Board (CAB) and the HOME SAFE program to provide citizen input on such important issues as public transportation as well as community policing. Sadly the present Mayor and now soon to be former town mgr did their best to muffle that voice.
Watch Publisher
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February 02, 2010
Brickbat: a fragment of brick used as a weapon; blunt criticism.

Brian, I appreciate that you did not attack Frank Bell personally and that you presented a specific criticism and even offered a specific remedy to your complaint. I also appreciate that you signed your comment.

But I have never accepted your argument that the marshal's department is not properly run and that it needs to be reined in.

Seth Cagin
Brian Ahern
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February 02, 2010
No doubt this will be a very tough climate to recruit a new town mgr. Frank Bell did his best and is no doubt a good man. That being said Bell was a cop, and cops take care of cops. He did nothing to reign in the TMO and if anything he made it easier for the TMO to get away with anything they wanted. That is what you get when your Chief of Police is hired and fired by the town mgr instead of by the Mayor and Town Council. I have been here for 10 years and this will now be the 5th town mgr. I hope that Town Council will seize this opportunity to put the selection of hiring and firing the Police Chief back into the publics hands where it should be, instead of in the hands of a temp worker. P.S. Seth I hate anonymous verbal brickbats too, What's a brickbat?
Samantha Samuelson
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February 02, 2010
Right on LINDA!! Best of luck in your new digs! It has been a while since I have been to Sea Ranches, but it is an awesome place and you two will be great assets!! Journey On Safely and Happily!! :-)
Impeach Stu
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February 02, 2010
The project met opposition that led to notable changes in California law. While the County Board of Supervisors initially regarded the developer's offer to dedicate 140 acres (0.57 km2) for public parkland as sufficient, opponents felt more coastal access was necessary. The site, containing 10 miles (16 km) of shore, had been available to the public but would be reserved for private use under the developer's plan. Areas below high tide were and would remain public property, but the plan provided no access through the development. In addition, California's coast at the time was only open to the public along 100 of its 1,300 miles (2,100 km).[5]

Californians Organized to Acquire Access to State Tidelands (COAST) was formed in response to this issue, and their 1968 county ballot initiative attempted to require the development to include public trails to the tidelands. While the initiative did not pass, the California legislature's Dunlap Act did pass that year and required that new coastal development dedicate trails granting public access to the ocean. This episode led to the establishment of the Coastal Alliance, an organization of 100 groups similar to COAST, that placed Proposition 20 on the statewide 1972 ballot. The initiative passed, and it established the California Coastal Commission, which continues to regulate land use on the California coast.[6]

In 2001, an inexplicable controversy arose when a global conglomerate took an interest in the seaside township regarding the use of the article "The" in its name. Apparently, a trademark was filed for "Sea Ranch" with a foreign-based orphanage as the beneficiary. In the ongoing case, the corporation claims that it owns rights to the term "Sea Ranch" and that the township must use "The Sea Ranch" in every reference to itself in order to avoid paying royalties. While a resolution has never been made public, in common practice, residents and neighbors colloquially refer to the township with and without the article in its name