March 2011 home page

  City Works Leader Leaves
Henry Abarbanel | Crest Road


David Scherer. Photo Art Olson


Del Mar’s Public Works Department is literally in everyone’s back yard. They oversee delivery of your water, departure of your used water, repair of your streets, plants overhanging the right of way, cleaning the beach. They are on your street, know your water meter size, and are on call 24/7/365 to repair the sewer pump station, clean up after storms, and generally make life better for each of us. They are Del mar’s largest department, and usually both the most visible and invisible. You see them in your neighborhood, but what better way to put the public to sleep at at City Council meeting than a riotous and lengthy discussion of sewer rates?

Overseeing this department for the last decade has been David Scherer, an intense, thoughtful soft-spoken engineer from Arkansas. David came to Del Mar from the post of City Engineer in Little Rock and when asked about the striking differences between here and there, he commented that “People in Del Mar believe strongly in citizen participation. They are engaged and intellectual about their civic life.” Noting “The residents have over my decade here sought civility in their discussions and have eliminated personal strife though public conversations.” He sees Del Mar as the example par excellence of what many in the 1960s called participatory democracy.

David’s daughter Erin has a PhD in Biochemistry from Oxford University and the Scripps Research Institute, and she presently holds a postdoctoral position at the University of Washington in Seattle. He refused detailed comment on her work until he, too, can get his PhD in Biochemstry—not presently on the horizon. His wife, having worked for some years in San Diego County, recently moved to a responsible position in Santa Barbara County where David will join her on April 2 of this year when he retires. Will he miss being Public Works Director? He says no, but he’ll miss the challenges of, repeating, the engaged and intellectual DM community.

Asked what our major challenges will be in the public works area, he noted: tending to aging City facilities, especially renovating or rebuilding City Hall. He deeply admires the community discussions which will lead to excellent use of the Shores property, and he wishes all of us well, as we do for him in his future endeavors.



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