Photo: Eric Angstadt
Photo: Eric Angstadt

Update, Feb. 26, 10:11 a.m. The city manager’s office sent the following notice to city officials at 10:05 a.m.

“It is with sadness that I inform you that Eric Angstadt has submitted his resignation as Planning Director effective March 25, 2016 to become the Chief Assistant County Administrator for Contra Costa County. Eric came to Berkeley in April 2012 as the Planning Director. Among the achievements during his tenure, he managed the expansion of Permit Service Center responsibilities and staff to address increasing demands for land use and building permit approvals for 2,500 units of housing, implemented a balcony inspection program, and adopted revisions to improve zoning and land use appeals. We will miss Eric and I wish him the best in his future role.

“I have asked Carol Johnson, the Land Use Planning Manager, to serve as Acting Planning Department Director effective March 25, 2016. Carol has over 25 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. She has been the Land Use Planning Manager for the City of Berkeley since May 2014. Prior to that she has served as the Planning Manager for the cities of Concord, CA and Phoenix, AZ. Accomplishments in those positions resulted in the Concord Downtown Plan, the Concord Safe Routes to Transit Plan, launching the Phoenix General Plan Update, and creating the Downtown Phoenix Code. Carol has also worked as a planner in various capacities for cities in the states of Connecticut and Washington, and as a consultant in the private sector. Please join me with congratulating Carol on her new assignment.”

Added Williams-Ridley in a statement to Berkeleyside: “The City of Berkeley is losing an exceptional leader and an exemplary professional. We wish him the best as he moves on.”

Original story, Feb. 25, 6:51 p.m. Berkeley planning director Eric Angstadt is leaving the city of Berkeley for a new job as a chief assistant county administrator with Contra Costa County.

He announced the move to his department Thursday, and his last day in Berkeley is slated to be March 25. The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote to ratify the appointment March 1.

The city of Berkeley has not responded to a request for comment about the news.

But it was well known to those familiar with him that Angstadt had been interested in taking on a broader managerial role, such as in city or county administration.

Angstadt came to Berkeley from Oakland in 2012, taking over as planning and development director, a position that had been vacant for nearly a year. He was described at that time as “a very creative, visionary person who takes a very pragmatic approach” to getting things done.

Said Councilwoman Susan Wengraf on Thursday evening: “Angstadt brought a new energy and perspective to Berkeley’s Planning Department. He is a great problem solver, always looking for more efficient ways to accomplish what needs to get done. In all my dealings with him, he was accessible, responsible and creative. His departure is a huge loss for our city.”

Councilwoman Linda Maio said Angstadt was known for his “quick and thorough command” of the city’s land use issues, “and the quality of his work.” And Councilman Laurie Capitelli described Angstadt as “creative, smart and committed to a vibrant transit oriented downtown,” adding, “I’ll miss him.”

The city of Berkeley has seen a number of both high-profile and lower-level changes in staffing in recent years. One employee who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak about the subject said there has been so much turnover that many employees no longer know or even recognize each other. He credited Interim City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley, however, for holding a staff-wide team-building exercise last year to help rebuild some of those relationships.

Other staffers and officials have observed that the turnover has put pressure on remaining staff and led to a decrease in institutional memory that has made it difficult to maintain the status quo.

Noted Councilman Kriss Worthington at a city meeting in January, “We have new everybody in city management practically.”

Last March, Jane Micallef, who ran the city’s Health, Housing and Community Services division, announced she would leave in May after 19 years of public service. She had run the division for seven years. The city later appointed Kelly Wallace to run the division on an interim basis. Last month, the Berkeley City Council confirmed the appointment of Paul Buddenhagen as permanent director.

One week after Micallef’s news, the city announced that IT director Donna Lasala would be leaving Berkeley after 16 years, effective Aug. 4. No replacement was announced.

Berkeley Police Capt. Erik Upson left to become police chief in Benicia in April. Upson had worked for the city for 17 years, his entire career to that point.

On June 2, City Manager Christine Daniel announced she would leave, after working for the city for 15 years, to serve as assistant city administrator in Oakland. Council appointed Dee Williams-Ridley, who had been hired in January 2015, as interim city manager. She continues in that role to date.

Andrew Clough, Public Works director, retired abruptly in July. Phil Harrington became the department’s acting director. He was confirmed as director on a permanent basis last month.

In October, the city’s acting human resources director, David Abel, retired. He was replaced on an interim basis by Assistant City Attorney Sarah Reynoso.

In November, Berkeley also announced the hiring of former Albany City Manager Beth Pollard as interim library director after Jeff Scott left earlier in the year amid some degree of tension.

Gil Dong, Ohlone Park meeting, Oct. 24, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Gil Dong in October: He’s now the fire chief and interim deputy city manager. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Gil Dong in October: He’s now the fire chief and interim deputy city manager. Photo: Emilie Raguso

In July, Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong stepped into a new position with the city after 25 years in the Fire Department, as interim deputy city manager. Deputy Chief Avery Webb then took over as interim chief, but he retired in December after a 37-year career in the fire service.

In January, Williams-Ridley announced that Dong would “split his time” as both fire chief and interim deputy city manager “until further notice.”

“Additionally, the Code Enforcement Unit will now be managed by Jim Hynes, Assistant to City Manager, Neighborhood Services Division. Neighborhood Services will now oversee Animal Care Services, the Code Enforcement Unit, homeless encampment issues and problem properties, and serve as liaison to the University of California, Berkeley. This restructuring will improve coordination and response to neighborhood and community concerns,” she wrote in a memo to the Berkeley City Council.

2014 also saw the departures of longtime staffer William Rogers, who had been the deputy city manager, and Bob Hicks, the city’s finance director. Daniel reportedly took on Hicks’ job after his departure until March 2015, when she appointed Henry Oyekanmi as acting finance director.

Berkeley fire chief is now interim deputy city manager (07.28.15)
Another Berkeley department head to retire (07.22.15)
Op-ed: City manager’s departure is big blow to Berkeley (06.29.15)
Berkeley mayor nominates interim city manager (07.02.15)
City Manager Christine Daniel to leave Berkeley for Oakland (06.02.15)
Berkeley police captain to become Benicia chief (04.08.15)
Dee Williams-Ridley named Berkeley’s deputy city manager (01.09.15)
Berkeley Fire Chief retires after 27 years with many firsts (12.28.12)
Oakland’s Angstadt to be Berkeley’s new planning director

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This story was updated after publication to include additional comments from city officials.

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...