Sabrina Landreth tapped as Oakland city administrator

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf today named Sabrina Landreth, who currently serves as Emeryville’s city manager, to be Oakland’s new city administrator.

However, Schaaf said Landreth might not take over the city’s top job until July 1 because Landreth doesn’t want to leave her post in Emeryville until it’s filled. Landreth previously served as deputy city administrator in Oakland.

Schaaf, who is only in her second month as mayor, said in a statement:

“This is the single most important decision I will make as mayor.”

Referring to frequent turnover in the city administrator’s position in the past year, Schaaf said:

“Restoring stability to the city administrator’s office is vital to achieving sustainability in Oakland. … Given the importance of this role, we were committed to conducting a robust search of top-notch professionals to identify a candidate that would bring competence, integrity and energy to City Hall and Sabrina is that person.”

The city administrator’s post has been in flux since the departure last March 2 of Deanna Santana, who had held the job since August 2011.

Former Mayor Jean Quan promoted assistant city administrator Fred Blackwell to the top job but he announced in April that he would become chief executive of the San Francisco Foundation, a non-profit group, and would only stay on the job until June 15.

Quan then appointed Henry Gardner, who was city manager from 1981 through 1993, when the job carried that title, to be interim city administrator. But Gardner had to leave the post in January because a new state retirement system barred the city from extending his contract because of his status as a city retiree.

Schaaf then named John Flores, who was Emeryville’s city manager for 19 years before retiring in 2006, to be interim city administrator. Flores, who began work on Jan. 18, will continue in the job until Landreth comes on board.

Schaaf said Landreth played an instrumental role in stabilizing the City’s financial position following the 2008 housing market crash and subsequent statewide dissolution of redevelopment agencies.

Landreth said in a statement:

“I am honored to have been tapped by the mayor of my hometown to help implement her vision in this time of incredible excitement and opportunity for Oakland.”

Schaaf said that when Landreth was deputy city administrator in Oakland she closed more than $175 million in budget deficits and led a massive overhaul of the budget and the city’s organizational structure to accommodate the new fiscal reality while minimizing disruption of city services and preserving city jobs.

Flores said in a statement:

“It was Sabrina Landreth who quietly and brilliantly steered Oakland through the economic downturn and helped put the city back on firm financial footing.”

The Oakland City Council must approve Landreth’s appointment and contract.

Landreth earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California at Berkeley.