"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