At 93, the former San Luis Obispo mayor Dave Romero passed away.

Romero was a long-time public works director for 36 years before serving on City Council for eight years, from 1992 to 2000. Romero was elected mayor in 2002 and held that role until he retired in 2010.

Family members told The Tribune Romero died in his San Luis Obispo home on March 17 due to health complications associated with kidney failure.

“Mayor Romero was such a fundamental part of the fabric of our city, it’s hard to find the right words to mark his passing,” San Luis Obispo Mayor Erica Stewart said in a news release. “He loved this city, and his contributions will live on for generations to come. Through the roads he helped build, water he secured, and downtown improvements he inspired, he was a critical part of so many of the things we love about our community today.” 

Romero’s projects included the creation of Mission Plaza, repairing sidewalks to make them safer, a seismic-retrofit program that helps protect older homes during earthquakes and new parks, according to the city’s news release.

Romero’s work extended to Cal Poly as well — helping to build Cal Poly’s Performing Arts Center (PAC).

“Dave brought his extensive knowledge of facilities, budgets, and management to his role on the PAC Advisory Commission,” former PAC Managing Director Ron Reiger wrote to Mustang News. “With warmth and humor, his commitment and wise counsel made problem-solving meetings enjoyable and productive.”

During the Great Recession, Romero helped the PAC navigate the negative impacts and plan facility upgrades, Reiger said.

“Mayor Dave was a friend of the PAC and is sorely missed by all who benefited from his interest and involvement,” Reiger added.


Mayor Dave Romero as Public Works Director overseeing construction of Mission Plaza. City of San Luis Obispo | Courtesy

In his role as the city’s public works director, Romero heavily focused on securing a reliable water supply, with projects such as the Whale Rock Reservoir, the Nacimiento Reservoir Project and the city’s recycled water system. 

“When it comes to public service, it would be hard to find a finer example than Mayor Romero,” City Manager Derek Johnson said in the news release. “Whether in his role as Public Works Director, City Council member, Mayor or Professor [at Cal Poly], his life’s work was to make this city what it is today.” 

For his contributions, the City Council voted to name the City’s Corporation Yard in his honor in 2010.

San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce also rewarded Romero with Citizen of the Year in 2015, stating they were “incredibly saddened to hear” of his passing.

On March 18, the City of San Luis Obispo lowered the flags to half-staff to honor Romero. 

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