Updated: The Deal's Gone Down [maybe]: Oakland's Angstadt Reported to be Berkeley's New Planning Director
UPDATE at 7: Well, not so fast. When we raised the question in the public comment period that preceded today's special 5:30 Berkeley City Council meeting, councilmembers roundly denied that Oakland's Eric Angstadt already had a lock on the city's director of planning job.
"I've only seen him once, for two minutes!" said Mayor Bates. Some councilmembers, not clear which ones, said they'd not heard anything about the choice. The consensus seemed to be that the candidate would merely be introduced at tonight's meeting, and the decision would be made at a subsequent meeting.
But in all fairness to our colleagues at Berkeleyside, their story might be substantially accurate nevertheless. It's highly probable that the rumored appointee will get the spot, since he seems to be well and truly backed by the development industry, which contributed generously to the Mayor, several of the councilmembers and to Measure R (the excuse for the almost-sealed Downtown Plan).
Original story (4 p.m.):
It has been announced (no source indicated) on berkeleyside.com (whose proprietor has requested that the Planet not call it a blog) that "Eric Angstadt, currently deputy director of planning and zoning for the City of Oakland, is expected to be confirmed tonight as Berkeley’s new director of planning and development. The City Council will make the appointment in closed session tonight, and the official announcement is scheduled for tomorrow."
Councilmember Kriss Worthington told the Planet that he has yet to be informed of this decision, and he said that under previous city managers the planning director nomination was reported to the City Council in the closed session and then voted on by the council in subsequent open public meetings.
If the appointment is made in closed session, it will be a departure from previous practice. If the city's announcement of the name is made after the appointment has already taken place, the public has no opportunity to comment on the decision. And it appears that in this case the deal has already gone down, so the public is firmly out of the loop.
The Berkeleyside announcement featured no Berkeley quotes, but enthusiastic endorsements of the Angstadt appointment from Joel Ramos of Hayward, a major regional smart growth proponent, and John Protopappas of Oakland, one of Oakland's biggest developers:
“Eric is a very creative, visionary person who takes a very pragmatic approach to his vision,” said Joél Ramos, a member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board and leader of the Great Communities Collaborative for TransForm. “He’s very talented at working with people. We’re confident that if there’s a way to get something done on a project, Eric will find the way.”
Ramos cites three major projects in Oakland where he believes Angstadt’s contribution was crucial: the Upper Broadway corridor plan, the International Boulevard transit-oriented development, and the commercial corridor zoning update.
John Protopappas, president and CEO of Madison Park Financial, one of Oakland’s largest developers, echoes Ramos. 'Oakland's loss is Berkeley's gain'."