Penny Maus says she wants San Diego’s real estate department to “serve as a model that government agencies in California and beyond will look to for excellence in real estate.” Photo via LinkedIn

A 13-year administrator at the Port of San Diego will become the city’s Real Estate Assets Department director, it was announced Friday — filling a vacancy created when a six-year chief resigned over the 101 Ash Street scandal.

Penny Maus brings more than 19 years of public and private real estate experience to the role. She most recently served as the Real Estate Department manager for the Port.

“I look forward to analyzing the city’s existing portfolio, identifying ways to optimize and diversify its assets and maximize the benefits it provides to the city and the public, while also providing our tenants with world-class service,” Maus said. “By doing this, my goal will be for the city’s real estate department to serve as a model that government agencies in California and beyond will look to for excellence in real estate.”

In August, department director Cybele Thompson resigned less than a week after a critical review was made public on the city’s acquisition of the former Sempra headquarters at 101 Ash. Thompson had led the office since 2014.

San Diego Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell resigned in October over the lease-to-own deal , following Deputy Chief Operating Officer Ronald Villa and Thompson.

After the city signed the deal for the building, it was found to have asbestos at unsafe levels, was quickly evacuated and has remained vacant since January.

During her 13 years with the Port of San Diego, Maus worked on a number of large projects from inception through completion, including the development of permanent locations for the port’s Bay Tour Operators, the $200 million redevelopment of the Marriott Marquis and the $25 million redevelopment of the Portside Pier dining complex.

Maus has also worked in the commercial real estate industry, at the local corporate offices of Jack in the Box and Petco.

“Penny has proven expertise in seeking out and promoting new business development, handling a diverse portfolio of assets and developing cost- saving measures that benefit San Diegans,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “She was a champion for equitable coastal access while at the Port of San Diego, which aligns with our goals to create a better San Diego for all of us.”

A 625-word city news release made no mention of the 101 Ash controversy.

Maus will oversee the city’s real estate portfolio of more than 500 leased properties. In addition to handling the city’s facility needs and acquiring new properties for sites such as fire stations, parks and libraries, the department provides direction for the operations of the city’s Airports Division and the City Concourse. It also manages the city’s role in the Joint Use Management Agreement for Petco Park.

Maus said she looks to optimize the city’s real estate assets to meet current and future needs, and to assist San Diego in striking a balance between providing adequate workspaces while optimizing cost savings and protecting taxpayer dollars.

San Diego held an open recruitment to fill the position. Maus was selected out of a pool of nearly 30 candidates and her first official day will be March 22.

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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