Eric Angstadt, Berkeley's new planning director. Photo: Oakland North

Update, 8:00pm: At the public comment part of a closed session of the Berkeley City Council tonight, Mayor Tom Bates said that no-one had been hired as director of planning for Berkeley. He said the council would be interviewing Angstadt in the closed session and “our decision will be made after that”. Councilmember Kriss Worthington added that the vote on whom to hire would not take place tonight, the general public would see the candidate’s name, and the council would vote in public.

Original story: 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.

The directorship has been vacant for nearly a year, since Dan Marks retired last July 1. Wendy Cosin has been acting director in the interim.

“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 community planner at 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,” Protopappas said. “I’m sorry to see it. He’s been able to figure out solutions to problems that didn’t seem like they could be resolved.”

Angstadt will arrive to a crowded set of issues in Berkeley’s planning department. A new downtown plan seems set to be passed by the City Council in the coming month, and the new West Berkeley plan is at an advanced stage.

As development projects have slowed through the 2008 recession and its aftermath, the city’s revenues from developers has dropped, leaving the Permit Service Center in deficit. The center’s fund started the 2012 fiscal year with over $2 million in fund balance, but an operating shortfall is projected through fiscal year 2013. The expected shortfall between revenues and expenditures in FY 2012 is $566,144.

Taller buildings, open spaces on cards for downtown Berkeley [03.09.12]
City takes first step towards adopting West Berkeley plan [03.24.11]

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...