Lynn Reitnouer was mayor, the Los Angeles Olympics were still a few months away and the iconic “It’s Raining Men” was in the Top 10 of music charts and a standard in the club scene when Ron Serven showed up in San Marino to start a new job with the parks department.
It was April 1984 when he arrived in the 91108 and, proving that time flies, Serven recently hung up his pruning shears and headed towards retirement.
Beginning as a grounds worker, Serven advanced through the gardener classifications before becoming Parks manager in 2001. During his twelve years in that role, Serven developed and initiated the installation of a citywide irrigation system, oversaw the Lacy Park renovation in 2003, developed and implemented the tree management system which tracks all city-owned trees. He also developed and implemented the Ficus tree replacement project on Huntington Drive, which brought brightly colored Pistache chinensis, or “Keith Davey” trees to the parkway.
He has since been promoted to Administrative Services Manager, Environmental Services Manager and Code Enforcement Manager, but never outgrew the popular rose pruning workshops he instituted in the late 80s and continued to offer up to the current day.
Serven told The Tribune he is most proud of the 2003 Lacy Park renovation project.
“The entire garden was replaced with new roses and companion plantings, the replacement of the irrigation system and revamping the wooden trellis structure,” said Serven, who also served as city armorist for the past 20 years. “The project was primarily completed by Parks and Public Works staff with the assistance of a group of Boy Scouts connected to an Eagle Scout Project and some contract work.
In his nearly four decades on the job, Serven said the biggest change he has seen is the adaptation and integration of sustainable landscapes.
“With the many challenges the community has had with the drought, water restrictions, runoff as well as the many landscape pests that have greatly impacted our landscapes, more and more property owners are redesigning or modifying landscapes to be more functional and more tolerant of the challenges they are faced with,” Serven said. “San Marino has always been known for its beautiful, mature trees and large expansive turf areas, but over the past five to seven years, a subtle trend has been seen to plant native and drought-tolerant alternatives in order to reduce the usage of high-water demanding turf and other plants that have higher watering requirements.”
Serven might be retiring, but he has absolutely no plans to stop working.
“With my long-time involvement and connection with the residents of San Marino and feeling so honored to have served this amazing community in so many capacities, I feel a strong inclination to continue my journey of service and to live even more in my purpose to help others,” Serven explained. “The new chapter of my life has led me down the path of getting certified as a transformational life coach and health and wellness coach. I coin myself as the ‘transformational happiness coach’ and my vision is to work with others to co-create the best version of themselves and to open up space for them to fully step into the person they are destined to be.”
Serven will also be a consulting arborist and horticultural consultant.
“My big vision is to create, inspire and promote learning and growing within nature,” Serven said.
Serven and his wife, Daniella, have been married for over 33 years and have a 14-year-old son named Anthony. He will also spend time with his older brother, Rick; a younger brother, Mike; sister Karen and their 80-year-old mother.