Santa Paula: New City Manager Michael Rock

By Sheryl Hamlin

Michael Rock, Santa Paula’s New City Manager

Mr. Rock’s most recent municipal tenure was Banning, California. Note the similarities between Santa Paula and Banning, California.

In terms of finance, the fiscal year 2015/2016 for Banning shows the following:

General Fund Starting Balance $2,858,705
Adjusted Revenue $14,150,397
Adjusted Expenditures $14,280,764
Projected Loss ($130,367)
Projected General Balance $2,728,338


Santa Paula’s Fiscal Year (FY) 15/16 General Fund revenue budget was about $14 million. Read details here. Santa Pauls’s FY 15/16 was only balanced by a previous year carryover, while FY 16/17 is projected to end in a deficit.


Santa Paula’s population is around 30,000 and stable, while Banning’s population was last measured at 29,603. Source:


Santa Paula’s history is steeped in agriculture, while Banning is known for horses and carriage stops. Banning’s major annual tourist event is called Stage Coach Days.

Located near the San Gorgonio Pass, the weather is usually pleasant and the city is known these days for its numerous golf courses popular with retirees.


The housing stock is generally much less expensive that than of Santa Paula with Redfin showing the median list price of $251,000 with a per square foot price of $171 for Banning with $459,000 and $326 per square foot in Santa Paula.


Like Santa Paula, Banning has pinned its hope on a huge development called Rancho San Gorgonia, an 831 acre master planned community to the south of Banning. The homes shown look much like those shown in the recent proposal by William Homes for the Hardison property. In more parallels to Santa Paula, the city was divided over this development with the pro-growth sector approving and long-time locals asking why the project did not have an equestrian theme to relate to the city’s history?

Banning Website

Many details can be found here about the city:

Banning Courthouse and Jail

Banning is also known for its county courthouse and jail located in town, which had an $80 million expansion in 2010 with plans for more expansion.

This is also shows a parallel to Santa Paula in that the Todd Road Jail will be expanding, though not within the city’s boundaries.

Mr. Rock’s Path to Santa Paula

Prior to Banning, Mr. Rock was in Lomita. Some articles are listed below:

Prior to Lomita, Mr. Rock was in Fairfax, California for four and a half years.

Selection Process

According to City Attorney John Cotti, the selection committee members were: Jose Melgar, Harold Edwards, Dennis Shaw, Carlos Juarez, Calla Dominguez, David Garcia, Connie Tushla, Bob Carson, Lorenzo Moraza. Cotti said that these were not appointed, but suggested by the council.

Vice Mayor Gherardi reports as follows:

… the council selected the individuals at a meeting with Gary Phillips, the consultant, and then he and John Cotti followed up setting up the meeting. The council, as a whole, made sure it was representative and diverse….

This is a multi-part report on the May 15, 2017 Santa Paula City Council Meeting. The first installment may be read here.


For more information about the author visit Sheryl Hamlin dot com.

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