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City Planning Director Sergio Zavala retires

20120827 MISSION Sergio Zavala retires JB 0007MISSION—Sergio Zavala, director of planning for the City of Mission, announced his retirement this week. His last day on the job is today.

“I’m ready,” said Zavala during a break in the Mission City Council meeting Monday. “I’ve been thinking about it pretty much all year. Retirement thoughts have been coming more often and stronger.”

He said he was leaving on a positive note, and was particularly pleased to have completed updating a wide array of city ordinances and codes over the summer months.

“I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to go ahead and punch those through. Now that that work has been accomplished, it’s a relief,” he said, reflecting his dedication that has served the city well for the past 28 years.

At the conclusion of Monday’s meeting, City Manager Julio Cerda announced Zavala’s retirement, saying, “It is with much sadness to see one of our finest and most hard working people…retire.”

            Cerda said Zavala’s leadership and expertise have been instrumental in the progressive growth of the city. He noted also Zavala’s work ethic and dedication.

“He has done wonders working for the city. He always returned phone calls and emails (and)…was almost always working after 6 p.m. It is with honor that I can say that I worked together with Sergio who is dedicated to his profession.”

Zavala started working for the city as city planner in 1984 when Pete Segundo was the director of planning and CDBG. Fourteen years later, he took over as director of planning in 1998, when Pat Townsend was city manager.

Reflecting back, Zavala said he had worked with several mayors, starting with Dr. Fernando Ortegon, Pat Townsend Jr., Richard Perez and now Norberto Salinas. He noted too that he has worked with four or five chairmen of the Planning and Zoning Commission. He especially noted that Dennis Burleson, who was on P&Z for about 20 years, gave him good counsel during those early years, among others.

“One of the people I remember talking to a lot and that I respected a lot was Amancio Chapa. He was very cool-headed. You may remember me from those days. I had a lot longer hair and was a lot more bold. But I needed to learn lessons myself…. Lessons have been learned from those experiences. There are things that I would never do now that I did when I was a lot younger.”

“It’s been a good ride,” said Zavala. “But we’ll see; I may be back in the chambers wearing a different hat. That may give you a hint of what may or may not come.”

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