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Education and Experience

Carmen has 16 years of experience in engineering, management, and public service. She brings top-level education and problem-solving skills to our community, and is ready on day 1 to lead Coral Gables on the broad range of complex issues facing our city. 


Her in-depth Vision reflects her unique qualifications, her understanding of our community, and her belief in bold action to safeguard our future.


Carmen was recognized by the City Commission for "[demonstrating] in many ways her deep and genuine love for our City," and by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce for "professional and exceptional performance."  Her work on dramatically improved permit times at Coral Gables was featured in a local paper.

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BS in Civil Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MS in Structural Engineering

University of California at Berkeley


Harvard Business School

If elected, Carmen adds refreshing diversity to the commission, for more ideas, more informed decisions, and a better team.  She brings unique credentials (in orange) to the service of the city's complex issues (in green).

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Public Service Experience

Assistant City Manager for Operations, City of Coral Gables (2013-2016)
Directed operational departments including Public Works, Planning and Zoning, Building, Code Enforcement, Historical Resources, Community Recreation, and Economic and Cultural Development. Responsible for the City’s Capital Improvement Plan of approximately $140M.  Selected projects include

  • Miracle Mile and Giralda Steering Committee

  • Bike Master Plan Presentation and Adoption

  • Information Center

  • Development Services Focus Groups

Interim City Manager, City of Coral Gables (April - Dec 2014)

Served as the chief executive of the City of Coral Gables City, an organization with an annual operating budget of approximately $180M, 800 full-time employees and 110 part-time employees.

  • Financing Plan for Miracle Mile and Giralda Streetscape Project

  • Trolley Building Settlement

  • Budget Preparation 

  • Union Negotiation

  • Tree Succession Plan

  • Fleet Replacement Program

Assistant Development Services Director, City of Coral Gables (2012)

Supervised Building, Code Enforcement and Planning and Zoning Divisions.  Led strategic initiatives focused on improving efficiency of operations, increasing accountability and establishing customer service guidelines.  Selected initiatives implemented included:

  • Queuing system to minimize wait times

  • Increased online/email applications

  • Developed strategic plan with customer input

  • Budget Preparation

Building and Zoning Director, City of Coral Gables (2010 – 2011)
Led the Building and Zoning Department through process improvements and its merger into the Development Services Department. 

  • Fast tracking of certain permit types

  • Developed a plan review guide

  • Established maximum 24 hour response time

  • Created monthly tracking reports

Operations Manager and Assistant Director, City of Miami Beach (2009-2010)
Supervised the governmental compliance section, permit counter staff and the administrative and finance functions of the department (approximately 35 staff members). Led strategic initiatives to optimize the efficiency and performance of the Department.


Engineering Experience

Responsible for the structural design of buildings, for the coordination of construction drawings with other disciplines and for maintaining the design team and client informed of projects progress.  Led the structural concrete design of four high-rise projects totaling $120M and consulted on over 70 projects with a total value of $380M.

Recognition and Media Coverage

During her tenure, the city reached a settlement on the controversial placement of a new trolley garage, reached the initial resolution in the preservation of Sherman’s Oak on Lisbon Street, approved its 2014-15 budget and made progress on the plan for the two municipal parking garages on Andalusia Avenue and the Miracle Mile Streetscape project.

At the same meeting where Swanson-Rivenbark was officially sworn in, the city honored Olazabal by proclaiming Dec. 17, 2014, as “Carmen Olazabal Day” and saluted her for her leadership.

“It’s not something you asked for you were jumped into it on short notice, you didn’t miss a beat,” Mayor Jim Cason said at that meeting. “We got all these projects that were getting ready to be started or in the process of being implemented you kept them all going, there was no lack of leadership at all during that period.”

published in “Coral Gables considers replacement after departure of assistant city manager,” Miami Herald, February 17th, 2016 (more)

Carmen Olazabal, who served as interim city manager, received a special proclamation. In honor of her eight months as interim manager, Mayor Jim Cason declared Dec. 17 as “Carmen Olazabal Day” in Coral Gables.

Police Chief Ed Hudak revealed findings of an FBI police department audit, which came after crime statistics were released in September. At that time, residents and commissioners accused the then-police chief of manipulating residential burglary statistics. An audit of the time period in question, January through August 2013 and 2014, showed that “the findings did not reveal any under-reported burglary offenses,” Jennifer Cook Pritt, director of Division of Criminal Justice Information Services at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, wrote in the report.

published in “Coral Gables swears in new city manager; FBI report shows no fudging of crime stats,” Miami Herald, December 16, 2014 (more)

WHEREAS, while serving as Interim City Manager, Carmen successfully developed the budget for the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year, thus reducing the City’s millage rate for the fourth consecutive year; she also approved a plan that will comprehensively replace about 3,000 sick and missing trees throughout the City, thus affirming the City’s commitment to the tree canopy; Carmen also helped develop and implement a social media policy and accompanying procedures; Carmen also had a hand in developing a seven year vehicle replacement budget program, that utilizes a mixture of funds from the motor pool reserve, as well as incremental increases from recurring revenues; a quarterly capital improvement project reporting process, to keep the Commission informed of projects in progress, was also created; Carmen also helped spearhead and plan the presentation of the Miracle Mile and Giralda Streetscapes to the Commission, which resulted on its approval after a multi-tier process, just to name a few initiatives undertaken by her; and

WHEREAS, in addition to contributing to many significant City initiatives during her tenure as Interim City Manager, Carmen demonstrated in many ways her deep and genuine love for our City as both a resident, and an employee and City Official, for her fellow co-workers, as well as for those individuals who have worked closely with our City; and

WHEREAS, it is altogether fitting and proper that the City recognize Carmen Olazabal and pay homage to her valuable contributions made to the City and thank her for her tenure as Interim City Manager

in City of Coral Gables Commission Proclamation declaring Dec 17th, 2014, as "Carmen Olazabal Day," December 16th, 2014 (more)

On behalf of the Coral Gables Chamber, we are pleased to acknowledge the professional and exceptional performance by an oustanding member of your team, Ms. Carmen Olazabal.  As Director of Building & Zoning, Ms. Olazabal has been a key element in the success of the Coral Gables Permitting Assistance Program that we established as a partnership between our respective organizations in an effort to retain, attract and create new jobs in Coral Gables.

To date, we are pleased to report that we have completed three projects that combined have a total job retention and creation impact of 313 jobs and a projected capital investment of $26.6 million.

We would not have been successful without such highly qualified and dedicated City professionals like Ms. Olazabal.  You certainly hired the right person for this important position at the City and we commend you on your selection of such a fine professional who understands the importance of ease of entry into the market for a business.

in Letter of Commendation to the City of Coral Gables from the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, June 5th, 2012 (more)

Turnaround times for new commercial permits have dramatically improved from a 55-working-day wait to now only 24 days

published in "Building/Zoning director works to improve customer service," Miami's Community Newspapers, June 14th, 2011 (more)

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   Phone: 305-962-8185

​​Political Advertising Paid for and approved by Carmen Olazabal for Coral Gables Commissioner Group 4

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