Updated 4:15 p.m., Oct. 18: Los Altos Hills residents who didn’t have a chance to meet Peter Pirnejad at the town’s recent Vines & Wines festival will have the opportunity to do so at this week’s city council meeting; tucked into Thursday’s agenda among commendations for outgoing city manager Carl Cahill is consideration of an employment agreement with Pirnejad, Cahill’s intended replacement.
If the council votes to approve the five-year employment agreement, Pirnejad will earn an annual salary of $236,000 plus benefits, according to the document.
Mayor Kavita Tankha announced the council’s decision in a press release published Friday.
“Mr. Pirnejad was selected following an extensive recruitment and interview process that included input from our community members and staff,” she wrote in the statement.
Pirnejad, a 51-year-old Mountain View resident, is married and has three sons. He was born in Iran but moved to the U.S. when he was 3 years old. He’s lived most of his life in California.
Aside from a two-year stint in the private sector, Pirnejad has worked for local government in some capacity since 1998. Most recently, he served as city manager for Foster City; the Foster City Council hired him in January but voted 3-2 Aug. 25 to fire him.
Per his employment agreement, the council was not required to provide a reason for his termination and chose not to. The agreement also guaranteed Pirnejad severance pay equivalent to nine months of his $235,000 base salary because his termination took place within the first 24 months of employment.
Finding the right fit
During an interview with the Town Crier Friday, Pirnejad said he harbors no ill will or regrets about his last post.
“I’m really proud of the work that we did, but ultimately, city management is about the fit between the council and the manager, and oftentimes if it doesn’t work out, then you kind of move on,” he explained.
Under his watch, Pirnejad said, Foster City kept its $90 million levee improvement project on track and successfully lobbied State Assemblymember Kevin Mullin of South San Francisco to introduce Assembly Bill 1029, which provides local governments state funds to preserve affordable housing; Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law Sept. 28.
Prior to his tenure with Foster City, Pirnejad spent two years and three months at Oracle Corp., first as director of community development strategy and then as senior director, global public sector, and nine months as assistant city manager for the city of Napa. He also worked as Palo Alto’s director of development services between November 2012 and February 2018.
Pirnejad’s education includes a master’s degree in policy, planning and development studies from USC in 2002. In 2017, he earned his doctorate in local government administration and policy, planning and development through USC.
Cahill announced his intended retirement in April. Although largely supported by Tankha and fellow council members George Tyson and Lisa Schmidt, Cahill has faced increasing criticism from the council since Linda Swan and Stanley Q. Mok joined the virtual dais in December. Chief among their grievances against Cahill is his handling of an unpopular garbage collection contract resulting in resident rate hikes.
Cahill’s last day as city manager is Friday, but he will remain a town employee until Oct. 29 to assist with the transition.
“As City Manager, Carl served the Town with dedication, providing leadership, guidance, and oversight to all Town staff,” Tankha said in a press release. “Carl also helped the Town maintain a stable budget and navigate the unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. In my role as Mayor, and on behalf of the City Council, we wish Carl the very best in his retirement.”