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Council Taps Third Interim City Attorney in 2 Years

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By Jorge Casuso

March 23, 2022 -- The City Council tapped Deputy City Attorney Susan Cola on Tuesday to head the legal department, making her the third person to hold the top post on an interim basis in the past two years.

Cola, who is the Senior Special Projects Deputy City Attorney, will assume the position April 5, as the Council prepares to hold its 11th closed door session this year to pick a permanent replacement.

“Susan has proven herself to be an extremely talented legal expert who understands the many complexities of municipal law,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich said in a statement Wednesday.

“My colleagues and I are extremely grateful to Susan for stepping up to serve as Interim City Attorney for this period.”

Cola has more than 25 years of municipal law experience, specializing in land use, public finance, real estate, public works contracting, economic development, and affordable housing, according to City officials.

Since joining the City Attorney’s Office in 2012, Cola "represented the City’s legal interests on many complex matters" and "handled several litigation matters for the City," officials said.

Cola will replace Interim City Attorney Joe Lawrence, who assumed the post after Interim Santa Monica City Attorney George Cardona left last August ("Joe Lawrence to Serve Third Stint as Interim City Attorney," September 24, 2021).

Cardona, in turn, assumed the interim post when former City Attorney Lane Dilg was hired as interim City Manager in April 2020.

The Council launched a nationwide search to replace Dilg and has held ten closed door sessions this year but failed to pick a permanent successor.

Cola, who was a prosecutor and transactional attorney for the City of San Diego for 11 years, welcomed the opportunity.

“I look forward to ensuring a smooth transition,” she said in a statement. “Santa Monica is unique.

"As a municipal lawyer, I feel very fortunate to be working in a smaller city with so many big challenges and opportunities.”

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