Robert Nisbet is thrilled to be back in Goleta, this time as its new city manager.
“It feels great coming home; it’s coming full circle. It feels wonderful,” said Mr. Nisbet, who was sworn in Sept. 1 to succeed City Manager Michelle Greene. “My wife and I are still pinching ourselves that this happened. We just can’t believe it, and we love it.
“I came down here 30 years ago to go to graduate school,” Mr. Nisbet told the News-Press. “Goleta wasn’t even a city then. To come back and become the city manager of Goleta is special.”
The News-Press asked Mr. Nisbet how his career has prepared him for this role.
“I lived in Santa Barbara for 25 years, which is where it starts,” he said. “I came to Santa Barbara in the late ’80s to go to school at University of California Santa Barbara. I worked for the city of Carpinteria and the county.
“I moved to the Bay Area for the past 10 years, before I came home to Goleta,” he said. “I worked in the local government for my whole career.”
Mr. Nisbet has a bachelor’s in construction management from Washington State University and a master’s in economics with an emphasis in public finance and urban economics from UCSB. Mr. Nisbet brings more than 28 years of professional management experience to his new role, including four years as the city manager of Half Moon Bay, which is located just south of San Francisco.
His career also includes six previous years as assistant general manager for the East Bay Regional Park District. He also has 12 years with the Santa Barbara County General Services Department, which includes seven years as the director. In addition, he served seven years as the Carpinteria public works director.
Mr. Nisbet talked to the News-Press about his goals as city manager.
“The council sets its own priorities,” he explained. “My job is to implement those.”
Infrastructure is one of the council’s priorities, which includes a five-year capital improvement plan and efforts to finance currently unfunded projects, as well as getting the streets up to speed.
Other council priorities include housing, homelessness and affordability and pandemic recovery and economic development for all of Goleta, specifically Old Town, according to Mr. Nisbet.
“I am replacing someone who was with the city for a long time,” he said, referring to Ms. Greene. “I will try to make the transition as seamless as possible. I want to develop relationships with the staff and keep things going as they were.
“I want to be patient, listen, and learn from the staff and the community,” Mr. Nisbet said. “In addition, I want to get out there, meet people and learn. I will implement council priorities and help facilitate future goals and priorities for the council next year.
“This is an incredible dream to come back to Goleta,” he said. “It’s really special to me. I look forward to keeping the work going in the good land.”