Former Lafayette city manager Steven Falk was tabbed by the Oakland City Council Tuesday night as its interim city administrator. Falk ,who also served last year as interim city manager in Richmond, will guide the city while Mayor Libby Schaaf finds a permanent replacement for outgoing City Administrator Sabrina Landreth.
Falk will earn compensation of $24,072 a month for a contract that runs from Mar. 12 to July 10, according to the terms of his contract. Falk’s tenure could be shortened if a permanent city administrator is located by the mayor’s office.
“They will tell you that I’m relentlessly optimistic. Sometimes to the point of being annoying,” Falk told Oakland councilmembers on Tuesday night. His sunny disposition may be challenged in Oakland, however, where activism seemingly on every side of an issue is fought vigorously. Often the tip of spear is aimed at the city administrator’s office.
Last December, Landreth announced she would be leaving City Hall, effective Mar. 11. She followed service as city manager in Emeryville with five years as Oakland city administrator.
Many of Oakland’s current issues are similar to problems he confronted last year in Richmond, Falk said, including a housing and homelessness crisis and racial disparity issues. However, on a smaller scale in Richmond, he acknowledged. “While I don’t claim to exactly comprehend what is before me here, I think I may have a taste,” he quipped.
At least for Tuesday night, there was little opposition to Falk’s appointment. Councilmember Larry Reid said Falk is qualified for the position, but he reserved his criticism for Schaaf. “My problem is with the mayor and trying to get her to do the right thing,” he said obliquely. Reid also alluding to some members of the public who questioned the additional outlay in city funding for an interim city administrator.