City of Los Altos embraces staff changes

Those who have attended a recent Los Altos City Council or Planning Commission meeting may have noticed some new faces at the staff table.

That’s due to the departure of three employees and the arrival of four new ones, according to City Manager Chris Jordan.

The trend of resignations across several city departments began in November when Public Works Director Susanna Chan resigned and took a job with the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District as assistant general manager. At the start of this year, Engineering Services Manager Chris Lamm left Los Altos for an assistant public works director job with the city of Menlo Park (according to his LinkedIn profile; no public announcement was made as was done with Chan). Then, at the Jan. 22 council meeting, Transportation Services Manager Aruna Bodduna resigned from her post (no explanation was announced).

Jordan said two senior engineers are working to pick up the slack in their department after Lamm’s exit: Aida Fairman is now the interim engineering services director and Victor Chen is the interim city engineer. The city has also hired consultants from the Municipal Resource Group and Traffic Patterns to assist “with certain projects and with the management of the department,” according to a statement.

Both Chan and Bodduna left shortly after working with residents unhappy about safety improvement projects that the two had overseen. Chan faced heavy community criticism during the reconsideration of the Miramonte Avenue pathway project (in which the city ultimately rejected a $1 million Valley Transportation Authority grant), and Bodduna listened to Los Altos Avenue neighbors speak strongly against the crosswalk improvements underway on West Portola Avenue.

New people, new roles

Jordan would not comment on what may have led to each employee’s resignation. However, Community Development Director Jon Biggs provided information on the new faces seen around the civic center since the end of last year in roles unrelated to Chan’s, Lamm’s or Bodduna’s. Employees in new roles include senior planner Steve Golden, assistant planner Eliana “Ellie” Hassan, assistant planner Calandra “Callie” Lewis and advising lawyer Heather Lee.

Golden has been with the city’s Planning Division since July 2017. He earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and management from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia. Golden has more than a decade of planning experience in the South Bay. His job in Los Altos involves planning projects that include single-family design review, multifamily and mixed-use projects, zoning amendments and long-range planning, Biggs said.

Hassan, one of the city’s newest staff members, earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental design with an urban planning emphasis and a minor in business from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She previously worked for several agencies in the Boulder area, including the county transportation agency. She is responsible for helping residents and applicants navigate Los Altos’ land-use rules and reviewing proposals for new single-family homes or additions to existing homes.

Lewis joined the city just after Hassan, armed with a bachelor’s degree in environmental management and protection from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with a concentration in environmental planning and policy. She previously worked with Insignia Environmental in San Francisco, among other agencies. She holds the same responsibilities as Hassan.

Lee comes from the city attorney’s office, Best, Best & Krieger LLP. She previously served as the deputy city attorney of Oakland’s Land Use, Development and Building Services Department. Lee now works with the Los Altos Planning Commission and other city planners to give advice based on her 26 years of experience with land use, environmental and municipal law.

Currently, the only employment listings on the city of Los Altos website are for part-time/seasonal opportunities through the city’s Recreation and Community Services department.

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