CARLSBAD — Ron Ball, Carlsbad’s city attorney, glances at the framed photos decorating his office which jump starts a trip down memory lane.
The majority of the snapshots capture his last 26 years serving as city attorney. Aside from photos of past and current mayors, City Council members and staff members, Ball managed to prop up photos of his scuba diving and fishing escapades.
The photos are a symbolic culmination leading up to Ball’s retirement at the end of the year where he closes one major chapter while starting a new one.
Ball joined the city of Carlsbad in 1986 first as an assistant city attorney, and worked five years in the position until he was appointed as acting city attorney.
Before earning his law degree from the University of Santa Clara, Ball graduated from Stanford University in civil engineering and also earned a master’s degree in business administration at the University of California, Berkley.
When he first earned his law degree, he practiced law in Northern California and took on cases such as personal injury, family law, criminal defense, bankruptcy, immigration, contracts and real estate.
Yet, the majority of Ball’s career has been in government.
“My best friend from college was a Sacramento County Counsel, and he said to me, ‘You should do this,’” Ball said. When an opening at the Mendocino County Counsel Office popped up, Ball was hired and stayed there for six years.
But things changed when he visited San Diego in 1985.
“I went to a County Counsel Seminar on Coronado Island at the Hotel Del and it was glorious week,” he said, noting what a great place coastal San Diego would be to live.
In 1986, the assistant city attorney position in Carlsbad opened, Ball applied and was hired. He and his family made a beeline south.
In the course of 26 years, Ball said, he’s experienced many personal rewards.
“What’s been most rewarding is watching the city develop as it was planned,” he said. “When I got here, the city was about half the size that it is today. When I came here, the Growth Management Plan was just getting started.”
Ball wants people to know that the City Councils have been true to the Grown Management Plan picture, and as the puzzle fills, it is filled according to that plan.
Ball said from all the lessons he learned as a city attorney, one has stood out more than others.
“Don’t feel that even if you’re right, it’s still not enough to deliver the message without care and concern; you can deliver the same message in a polite and friendly way and it will be acceptable even though it’s the same answer,” he said.
And during his 26 years as city attorney, he has delivered numerous messages.
Ball has been instrumental in areas such as litigating the removal of the Split Pavilion, establishing the state’s first infrastructure financing district, implementing the Legoland Amusement Park development agreement, implementing the City Charter, taking part in the California Energy Commission proceedings, working with Poseidon on the desalinization plant, defending and implementing the Growth Management Plan, and more.
“Ron has been one of the cornerstones in the community,” Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall said. “There are so many things he has done behind the scenes, and not in the limelight, but always got the job done.”
Hall has known Ball for 25 years and describes him as hardworking, dedicated and very detail-oriented.
“Ron is a true asset to the city and he will be missed,” Hall said.
Lisa Hildabrand, Carlsbad’s city manager, describes Ball as a very intelligent individual who has been dedicated to both the city and his profession.
“He can be very tough in defending the city when needed but also very personable when you’ve got him on your side,” Hildabrand said.
Hildabrand also attributes Ball’s brightness and energy in influencing the strides in her own career.
“Ron has always made me stay on my toes,” she said. “His style encouraged me to continually learn new things and to consider different ways of accomplishing our work here at the city.”
Mayor Pro Tem Ann Kulchin said Ball will be missed tremendously.
For Kulchin, Ball has an innate talent of research. And when he renders a decision, she said, the city knows he studied it well.
“Ron is just an outstanding city attorney,” Kulchin said. She continued, “He is one of these kinds of people that you don’t realize what a good job he does because always does a good job and you kind of take it for granted; I think when we turn around, and there is no Ron Ball, it’s going to be an ‘Oh my gosh’ moment.”