New City Manager: ‘San Leandro Is At A Tipping Point’

SAN LEANDRO | Jan. 18, 2012 | Resplendent in a three-piece suit, Chris Zapata was approved as the new city manager of San Leandro. Minutes later, though, he absorbed the first volley in what may be the beginning of a contentious period of labor negotiations with the city’s employee groups and public safety unions.

Before a brief exchange between Zapata and Councilman Jim Prola, the City Council unanimously approved a three-year, $223,000 salary for the former city manager of National City, Calif. Notably, the package includes a $16,500 stipend for moving costs and calls for Zapata to pay a 10 percent share of his pension. The latter is cause for concern for Prola, the council’s most fervent backer of unions and his own city’s public employees.

“I want to express some concerns about the contract,” said Prola Tuesday night while addressing Zapata. “I’m extremely concerned about the example we are setting and fairness we are showing our current employees.”

While we are giving you a nice raise, we have asked our lower waged earners and most of our workers to sacrifice in the last few contracts.”

San Leandro’s two public employee unions have not received a pay raise for nearly five years while absorbing increasing cuts to their medical benefits, in addition to the city instituting eight non-paid furlough days last year.

“I’m sure, barring an economic miracle, we’ll be asking them for further sacrifices later this year when we negotiate their contracts,” added Prola, who also urged the council and mayor to implement cuts to their own pay commensurate with any decrease in wages city employees may eventually face later this fall.

“I understand the sacrifices that have been made and I also understand the economic circumstances we find ourselves in and not just San Leandro, but all parts of the world,” Zapata said. He, himself, is no stranger to working without wage increases. As city manager of National City in San Diego County, he maintained a salary of $165,000 without a raise since 2004.

Zapata is sured to earn his substantial uptick in earnings in San Leandro where the once-thriving factory town has struggled to reform itself to the realities of the new economy.

“I believe San Leandro is at a tipping point,” said Zapata. “I do believe the things you have set in motion–things you have set in motion by past administrations and councils are wonderful, but you can get more done.”

Many locals are hopeful Zapata’s significant background in moving ambitious business ventures forward will translate in San Leandro. Some have recently pointed to the most obvious opportunity for Zapata to flourish is the city’s perennial diamond-in-the-rough–its Marina–as a development in need of refocus.

Some recent suggestions for the area include, somewhat quirky ideas like closing the harbor and recasting it as a water park, adding a museum and building a library. Other more conservative plans include commercial development and office complexes.

Zapata’s credentials on development are substantial. As a deputy city manager in Glendale, Ariz., he was part of the team that brought the up-and-coming suburb to national attention with construction of the state-of-the-art University of Phoenix Stadium. A few years later it led the NFL to award the city the 2008 Super Bowl.

Categories: Chris Zapata, economy, Jim Prola, pensions, police union, S.L. City Council, S.L. Marina, unions

19 replies

  1. Get more done! I just love that comment. This fellow needs to review what the Council did during past years and it was past Council that got measure Z passed. The city is in fine financial shape and to suggest San leandro is at a tipping point is just plain stupid. This city, along with every City in The country was at the tipping point in 2007 when the economy crashed. Our 2006 council was smart by putting awwy $24 million in reserve; it got out through the crisis. There was pain and City lost over 90 cherished employees. That was the tipping point. Prola wrong in talking abuot pay cuts for Councilmembers; councilmembers do not earn a lot of money. Instead of talking about cuts, how about talking about restoring past programs? Tony Santos


  2. Let us hope that Mr Zapata and the majority of the Council understand that the future comes from city employees paying the full pension without city contributions. That includes the cops and firemen. If they do not like it, they can leave and that will open the city up to a lot more employees. Let these overpaid and underproducing civil entitlements join the unemployed. It is time to stand up to the Union Bullies and quit taking it behind as ex-mayor Santos did for too many years.


  3. Tony Santos needs to STFU! You senile old bastard, you ran this City into the ground. You're nothing but a greedy son of bitch who is only looking to screw the taxpayers over for your own personal gain. I'm glad the voters had the sense to kick your sorry ass off the Council. Now shut up and leave us alone. Go join Lou Filipovich in the San Leandro Nutcase Hall of Fame.


  4. anonymous why dont you put your name on your post? Tony Santos at 79 could still kick your fucking ass.


  5. Why don't you practice what you preach jackass?


  6. Zapata is absolutely right, San Leandro is at a tipping point, the signs are everywhere within the community. We have two real choices…we can become a reinvented and re-purposed community for the next genearations or we can continue to slowly drift into the margins as just another declining inner core post war suburb where people say, “it used to be a nice place”. I for one choose the 1st choice and really hope he can ignore the heads buried in the sand and really get movement forward.


  7. I hope he can do something. I have lived here for almost 30 years. It's honestly sad to see many buildings that at one point were successful factories rot and decay. east Oakland has A similar but worse problem with a lot of their old factories. It's a depressing reminder of what once was.


  8. All of you need to review SL history; it appears none of you know anything at all about your City. Best you learn. You can do so by reading two books: “San Leandro, a history,” and ” A garden grows in Eden.” Bottom line SL is a working class City and none of us can get around that. SL also has over 20,000 workers coming into the community every day to work. Jobs are there folks. Someone who had lived in SL for 30 years should know something about the community for heavens sake. The signs for SL are good: new hospital being built, which will be center piece of City and when retail center follows, things will really move. The next 10 or so years bright for SL. As for restaurants, if you can bring one to town, do so. Tony Santos


  9. Thank you for your thoughtful and intelligent comments Barry. It is quite refreshing to have someone with an inspiring point of view comment. Tony Santos reflects a corrupt and ignorant point of view of greed and stupidity.


  10. Yeah right you moron Tony Santos. Because of you and the other jackasses in City Hall it takes over ONE FRICKIN YEAR to open a restaurant in San Leandro. GO SCREW YOURSELF ASSHOLE!


  11. That's exactly right. Tony's administration was the one who put up all the road blocks for small buisnes in san Leandro. You screwed this poor city like a cheap hooker and got away with it. Just leave and let time erase all memory of you.


  12. It was union working class and small business owner families, it is becoming ghetto and low paying service industry level….big difference.


  13. Tony Santos doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. He needs to change that Depends and just leave us the hell alone. Perhaps he can go live in his wife's beloved Germany since he thinks that country is doing so wonderfully with it's high taxes. He's fool and and we're all that much better that he's gone.


  14. Thank our lord the almighty for giving us Steven Cassidy to save us from satans bastard, Tony Santos


  15. What kind of idiot tells people to read a book written 40 years ago??? Santos is a stuttering imbecile. He's too stupid to look towards the future. All he can care about is screwing taxpayers and milking the system. Get the HELL away from us.


  16. Steven, are you a Jew?


  17. Anonymous, Steven is a Portugee.


  18. He thinks like a Jew.


  19. Well said, anon 6:04am


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