New South Lake Tahoe city attorney dives into position
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Council did not waste much time putting the city’s new in-house attorney to work.
Heather Stroud took her seat in council chambers to offer her legal insight immediately after four members of council unanimously approved her contract Oct. 2, a little over one year after Tom Watson, the previous city attorney, resigned to be closer to family.
The city attorney position is one of two at-will positions that serve solely at the direction of City Council. The other position is the city manager.
Prior to coming to South Lake Tahoe, Stroud served as a deputy city attorney in both Carlsbad and San Diego. She attended law school at the University of Colorado.
Speaking before council, the married mother of two said she was honored to be the city’s new attorney.
“I’m really excited to be here,” she said. “I know you have a lot of exciting things going on right now in the city, and I’m happy to be a part of your team.”
That assessment could be considered an understatement.
The city is in the process of addressing cannabis regulations, following a successful referendum effort led by an attorney for Tahoe Wellness Cooperative founder and City Council candidate Cody Bass.
And in less than a month, voters in South Lake Tahoe will decide Measure T, an initiative that, if passed, would eliminate vacation home rentals outside of the tourist corridor and commercially zoned areas over the course of three years.
The measure, which is being fought with funding from the National Association of Realtors, could lead to litigation depending on the outcome.
City leadership also could be in store for a shake up, with three council seats on the November ballot and the current council working to hire a city manager before the election.
Stroud steps into a position previously held by Watson. After his resignation in August 2017, the city engaged Nira Doherty, a former assistant city attorney and current partner at Burke, Williams & Sorensen, to serve as interim city attorney. She stepped down from that role earlier this year and Sergio Rudin, also with Burke, Williams & Sorensen, stepped in to fulfill city attorney duties.
Earlier this year the city retained Washington-based recruiting firm Prothman to find candidates for the city attorney position.
Under the terms of the contract approved by council, Stroud will start with an annual base salary of $160,000. Watson was paid $170,844 in base pay in 2016, his third year on the job, according to Transparent California.
As is standard for executive leadership positions, council will review her performance on an annual basis.
She will have the option to purchase health insurance under the city’s medical plan, and she also will receive a monthly car allowance of $250.
The contract is for five years. Should the city decide to terminate the contract without cause, it would be responsible for paying her six months severance at the same rate as her salary.