Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

Man With a Plan

by | May 1, 2018 | College Town, Spring/Summer 2018

As Davis’ city manager, Mike Webb ’98 tackles everything from economic development to agreements with sister cities, but he isn’t working alone.

“Teamwork is so crucial to me as the city manager,” he said, adding that he traces the philosophy back to UC Davis’ collaborative environment. Though he was more focused on individual achievement early on, “teamwork was really encouraged” in his major of environmental policy analysis and planning at UC Davis. And a collaborative spirit is essential in his current position.

Webb became city manager in December, but he’s not new to city government. He’s worked for Davis since 1998, with the exception of a brief stint at the city of Placerville. During his time with the city of Davis — which started as a student internship — his focus has been on community development, which means he’s looked at a lot of building plans and permits. Rather than pieces of paper, he said he sees the potential for something tangible — and impactful.

“It’s the tie to the physical world we live in,” he said. “You can see, feel and touch the fruits of your labor on a daily basis.”

Those projects have been wide-ranging — from individual home renovations to a 100-acre subdivision dubbed The Cannery and a shopping center on Second Street anchored by Target — and the variety keeps things interesting, he said.

Working in Davis does bring some unique challenges. Davis residents have high expectations for the city government, he said, citing as evidence the sheer number of city advisory groups for citizens — nearly 20.

He faces other concerns, like a city budget gap of roughly $8 million. In June Davis voters will decide the fate of a pair of parcel taxes to close about half the gap, with the rest to be made up through economic development and cost-cutting.

He’s eyeing other improvements, too, like using technology to simplify some of the city’s operations. For example, when residents install new water heaters, they must come to city hall for permits. He said he’d like to move that process online.

Webb said he also strives to maintain a strong relationship with UC Davis. After all, it’s where he met his wife, Katie (they both worked in the Tercero Residence Halls), and where five of his family members attended. Now his daughter is considering enrolling, but they’re leaving the decision up to her.

“We’re making sure she knows there’s a whole breadth of options.”