Carlsbad City Attorney Celia A. Brewer has announced her plan to retire, following a 29-year career in public service, the last nine and a half at the City of Carlsbad. Brewer informed the City Council of her accelerated retirement plans this week, following a 2019 diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.
“I am passionate about public service and have loved every one of my public agency jobs, with the City of Carlsbad being the capstone of my career. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work on so many projects that directly benefit the community,” said Brewer. “But the time has come for me to focus on my own well-being, joining the thousands of other people with Parkinson’s who lead active, healthy lives every day.”
City of Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said, “Celia’s contributions to the City of Carlsbad go far beyond her legal work. She has a unique talent in bringing disparate sides together to find common ground for the common good. Her accomplishments here and throughout the region have been transformative and will be enjoyed by residents for generations to come.”
During her tenure as Carlsbad City Attorney, Brewer was a key member of the team that negotiated a historic agreement with NRG Energy and SDG&E to remove the aging power plant from Carlsbad’s coast. Today, the above ground demolition is nearly complete. The site will eventually be redeveloped, and provisions in the agreement call for significant collaboration with the community on its future use.
In Carlsbad, Brewer also led a team that developed a creative solution combining a lawsuit settlement, an interested developer and several environmental groups. This agreement resulted in completion of the long-awaited Poinsettia Lane connection and the repurposing of an abandoned reservoir site into Buena Vista Reservoir Park, which opened late last year – both paid for by a developer.
“Celia is an excellent attorney, but more than that, she is truly a strategic partner,” said City Manager Scott Chadwick. “Where others see conflict, she sees opportunities for creative solutions. It’s a real gift and just one of many reasons why she will be missed, not just by me but our entire city organization.”
Brewer began her public service career in Solana Beach, first as deputy city attorney and eventually as city attorney, where she helped resolve issues related to moving the railroad tracks below street level, a project that improved safety and helped revitalize this small coastal city. In addition to working directly for public agencies, Brewer has worked in private practice representing municipalities, special districts and nonprofit organizations.
In 2007, Brewer joined the San Diego County Water Authority as Assistant General Counsel. In this role she developed model conservation ordinances that today serve as the foundation for water district conservation programs throughout San Diego County. She also worked on resolving disputes related to the construction of the All American and Coachella canal lining projects.
Brewer’s penchant for successfully negotiating complex land use and environmental agreements led her in 2010 to the San Diego Unified Port District. As Assistant Port Attorney and Interim Port Attorney, she helped resolve community concerns about the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, ultimately securing Coastal Commission approval for the 30-year plan to transform what has been called San Diego’s “front porch.”
Her time at the port also involved the demolition of an old power plant. In this case, Brewer helped develop a strategy that expedited the above ground demotion of the South Bay Power Plant, something community members wanted for years. Just a month after Brewer left the port for Carlsbad, more than 1,000 people gathered in the early morning hours to watch the plant’s implosion.
Active in her profession, Brewer has served as the president of the California League of Cities City Attorneys Department, and she has been president of the City Attorneys Association of San Diego County twice.
Brewer earned her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of San Diego School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies and planning from UCSD. In 2018 UCSD featured Brewer in its on-campus banner program highlighting alumni who have made a difference in the world.
In addition to her work as a public lawyer, Brewer is the proud mother of three children, the youngest of whom is graduating from college this spring.
To help ensure a smooth transition of her role, Brewer will remain with the city through July 2022. The City Attorney is one of two positions appointed by the City Council, which will decide in the coming weeks how to fill the position.