Newport Beach general services director to retire

March 30, 2005

Alicia Robinson

Newport Beach General Services Director Dave Niederhaus, best known

for his role in enforcing the city's controversial tree policy, will

retire in April after 18 years with the city.

Niederhaus heads the department that handles the most visible

aspects of the city: sidewalk repair, beach cleanup and building

maintenance -- not to mention those embattled trees.


"He's really responsible for how the city looks to the community,"

City Manager Homer Bludau said.

The city job is a second career for the 64-year-old Niederhaus,

who spent 23 years as a pilot and administrator in the Marine Corps

before coming to work for Newport Beach in 1986.

Niederhaus said he's leaving because he just decided it was time

to retire. His position has sometimes exposed him to criticism -- he

advised the council to get rid of 25 ficus trees that the Balboa

Arbor Society subsequently sued to protect, and he led the charge in

the early 1990s to save money by contracting out the former city

services of tree trimming and park landscaping.

"That brought some animosity toward me at that time, but you know,

as always we worked things out, and we didn't lay anyone off, and we

looked after the employees," Niederhaus said.

Among his successes, he counts building an electric vehicle fleet

that at one time was the largest in the state, with 21 vehicles. He

also says he's met a goal every year of saving the city a sum at

least equal to his salary -- a job that has gotten harder now that he

earns more than $157,000 annually.

And Niederhaus is proud of his work with trees, a topic Bludau

says has made him a "lightning rod" to some residents who don't want

the city to cut down trees.

"Dave's got a tough job," agreed Kevin Murphy, who was city

manager from 1992 to 1998. "He touches sidewalks, trees, parks,

roads. There's just so many maintenance things, and you're bound to

make people unhappy."

Newport Beach has been named a Tree City USA for 15 consecutive

years by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Murphy called Niederhaus "an incredibly hardworking guy," and city

officials praised his dedication to the city.

Newport Beach Fire Chief Tim Riley said Niederhaus has done a good

job keeping fire department equipment and facilities in shape.

"Our fleet's in the best shape that it's ever been in," Riley


Niederhaus will conclude his work for the city on April 15. Bludau

said he will consider internal and external applicants to fill the


* ALICIA ROBINSON covers government and politics. She may be

reached at (714) 966-4626 or by e-mail at alicia.robinson

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles