Scott McBride, the development director who has led Merced’s planning, building and housing efforts since 2017, was appointed this week to city manager — the top executive at City Hall charged with carrying out the directives of elected leaders and overseeing day-to-day operations.
The Merced City Council voted unanimously to approve McBride on Monday night during its regularly scheduled public meeting. There was no discussion before the vote, but leaders said the decision followed an extensive search process. Mayor Matthew Serratto congratulated McBride and there was a round of applause in the audience.
“Scott has spent the past several years learning the city from the inside out,” Serratto said in a news release. “He has the passion and knowledge to continue our important work in one of California’s fastest-growing cities. … Scott will serve as a critical link between the city and our residents, and I know he will continue to strengthen our partnerships, services, and programs.”
McBride will replace City Manager Stephanie Dietz who announced her departure last February. When Dietz steps down in mid-November, she will have completed three years of service to this city of 90,000 residents, which included the responsibility for about 530 city employees.
As director of Development Services, McBride has been credited with securing more than $72 million in funding for affordable housing projects. He has worked with the City Council to adopt policies that encourage affordable by design and infill development, completed pro-housing zoning code updates, and has implemented pre-application processes for 10 major annexations.
“Scott has a heart for this community,” Dietz said. “His experience, combined with his forward-thinking approach to affordable housing, infill, commercial, and retail development initiatives, will continue to foster a climate that will be beneficial as Merced grows.”
McBride is expected to start his new role on Nov. 16, which will commence an “at-will,” three-year contract that the City Council can choose to terminate at any time, with or without cause. His annual pay will be set at $240,000. That’s a pay raise of about $100,000 from his initial salary with the city.
McBride was considered quite the catch for Merced when he was recruited to serve the city back in 2017. The city manager at the time, Steve Carrigan, described him as “a heavy hitter who will consistently knock it out of the park.” Meanwhile, McBride said he was looking forward to working on “exciting, transformative projects like High Speed Rail, ACE (Altamont Commuter Express), UC Merced collaborations, and new Downtown developments.”
Before being hired in Merced, McBride was the director of Community Development for Atwater, and he was also coming off a stint as the town’s interim city manager. He was praised for working on a number of transformative projects for Atwater, topping off a 23-year career in the small city in which he rose from the ranks to become a top executive.
“Scott worked very effectively in Atwater to ensure the Applegate Shopping Center became a reality,” recalled Greg Wellman, a former city manager of Atwater. “After transferring to Merced, his help in developing Campus Parkway has been critical. He has all the attributes you would want in a promising City Manager, and I wish him well.”
McBride is also considered a longtime local resident. He’s an Atwater High graduate who went on to study at Merced College, and later achieved a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a Master of Public Administration from California State University Stanislaus.
“I am honored the City Council selected me to serve as the city manager, and I will strive to give my best to the community where I grew up,” McBride said in the news release. “I believe in the profound impact well-developed programs and services can have on a community. Our team will continue to build on the very productive work underway as we strive to create a transparent, responsive government that serves our city’s residents, businesses, and stakeholders.”