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Santa Cruz City Manager Martín Bernal will retire later this year after a 24-year career in various positions with the city, officials announced Wednesday morning.

Bernal told city council members about his retirement plans on Tuesday, during a portion of the council meeting that was closed to the public, according to a news release.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the city of Santa Cruz over the past 10 years as City Manager and my 24 years at the city,” Bernal said in the news release. “During that time, with the collaboration of many dedicated elected leaders and staff, we have weathered the Great Recession and responded to a global pandemic. Our shared legacy will be one of resiliency in the City of Santa Cruz.”

Bernal will leave his post at the end of July, and the city will conduct a nationwide search to find his replacement. The city council will discuss the search during its next meeting on March 9.

“City Manager Bernal has effectively led the city of Santa Cruz through a host of incredible challenges, particularly in the past year with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Donna Meyers said. “The City Council is grateful for his dedicated service and congratulates him on his forthcoming retirement.”

Bernal, who is in his mid-50s, is paid a salary of $233,625, plus benefits.

Recently, he has been at the center of the city’s efforts to grapple with homelessness — an issue that took center stage during Tuesday’s city council meeting. Late last year, homeless advocacy groups criticized him for an executive order he issued to clear the large homeless encampment at San Lorenzo Park. That order was later stopped by an injunction in federal court.

Before being hired in Santa Cruz, Bernal worked for four years as assistant to the city manager of Mountain View, and as a senior executive assistant to the San Jose city manager. Before that, he worked as an environmental specialist.

Follow Isabella Cueto on: Twitter. Isabella joins the Lookout team as a government accountability reporter, building on her experience covering local government for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.Before...