The city of Berkeley’s new director of planning was approved by the Berkeley City Council at its meeting Tuesday night, filling a position that has been vacant since last July.
Eric Angstadt comes to Berkeley directly from Oakland’s Community and Economic Development Agency, where he served as deputy director for six years. Berkeley’s department of Planning and Development has been without a director since Dan Marks retired in July.
Angstadt will be the administrative head of one of the city’s largest departments, managing a staff of more than 50 people with an $11 million budget. The department’s Permit Service Center also has an expected operating budget shortfall of $566,144 for the coming year.
The council first met to discuss Angstadt’s appointment on March 12 in a closed meeting but had to wait until Tuesday night to vote on a resolution approving his appointment, which passed seven-to-two.
“Eric had extensive service with the city of Oakland and others,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates at the meeting following the appointment. “We’re glad to have him on board.”
Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin voted against approving Angstadt as the new director of planning but said their concern did not reflect a lack of faith in his abilities.
After the meeting, Worthington and Arreguin expressed concern with the fact that community members were not able to participate in the process of finding a new planning director. Both council members said they wished the city had made the process of choosing the new planning director more public.
“It’s important for community to have input in the process, and that didn’t happen,” Arreguin said.
Worthington said he felt that a list of the applicants could have been made public. He also said that he felt Deputy Director of Planning Wendy Cosin has been doing an excellent job carrying out the duties of planning director while the position was empty.
“It was a lot of work for one person to do both jobs, and I think she did a stunning job,” Worthington said. “I will be hoping and praying that he will be successful as well.”
Berkeley resident Gale Garcia sent an email concerning the appointment to the council which was included in the meeting’s communication packet. In the email, Garcia cautioned the council against approving Angstadt, pointing to the demolition of a building in Oakland Garcia said Angstadt rushed by signing off on its demolition before an appeals period passed.
He also complained that the appointment was “hastily made,” without time for the public to learn about Angstadt’s qualifications “or to comment on the appointment.”
“If this hasty backroom selection is approved, you will be leaving the public out completely,” Garcia said in the email.
Angstadt is expected to start work by the end of the month.
Adelyn Baxter is the lead city government reporter.