Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday that the top executive at the Port of Los Angeles will leave at the end of the year, the first department head to announce a departure during Garcetti's review of high-level managers.
Geraldine Knatz, who has been running the nation's busiest port since 2006, will retire at the end of the year. Garcetti also announced that Gary Lee Moore, currently the city engineer, will serve as acting general manager at the harbor until a permanent replacement is found.
“I thank Dr. Knatz for her service to Los Angeles," Garcetti said. "My agenda for the Port is focused on maximizing its economic impact and minimizing its environmental impact to build stronger neighborhoods in the Harbor area and across Los Angeles.”
Knatz, 61, was hired by Garcetti's predecessor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and was earning $332,159 annually, according to the city controller's office. In a statement, she said she would help with a "smooth transition" and is proud of her accomplishments at the agency.
When he took office, Garcetti called on the city's top managers to reapply for their jobs and explain how they would achieve key goals, such as fostering business development and making the city more customer friendly. So far, he has told at least five department heads that they will get to stay, including top managers in the planning department, animal services department and Bureau of Sanitation.
Last Friday, Knatz told The Times she had still not received a call from Garcetti saying whether she would be staying on. She gave no indication at that time that she was planning to retire.
In his statement Thursday afternoon, Garcetti did not say whether Knatz's departure is related to that process, only that a "leadership change" was taking place at the port.
Knatz's retirement news comes three days after port officials announced the resignation of retired U.S. Coast Guard Capt. John Holmes, who was the deputy executive director of operations for the harbor department.
Holmes helped to develop the clean truck program, port security measures and the Maritime Law Enforcement Training Center. But he became controversial earlier this year, when KCBS-TV reported on growing costs of renovating the harbor department’s 73-foot tour boat, the Angelina II.
Harbor commissioner Cindy Miscikowski, who will soon be replaced by another Garcetti appointee, described Knatz as “very, very effective” on efforts to keep the port competitive and move forward with new terminal construction projects. Miscikowski said the port had made significant strides in reducing emissions from trucks that move through the harbor.
“Geraldine came in when Mayor Villaraigosa came in, and each mayor has his choice to bring in the team that they want,” Miscikowski said. “It’s the nature of our system.”