A crucial new staffer has been recruited to lead Mountain View's Community Development Department, the city's pipeline for housing and commercial projects. Aarti Shrivastava, a former Mountain View planner, has been hired back to lead her old department.
For the last 10 years, Shrivastava has been in charge of the Community Development Department in nearby Cupertino, where she dealt with many challenges familiar to Mountain View, including dealing with a large tech giant headquartered in town (Apple).
Back in Mountain View, Shrivastava will now take on new dual role as the city's community development director and as an assistant city manager. In this new two-part position she will oversee the four divisions of the community development department as well as provide strategic support to the city manager on high-level issues. Shrivastava will reportedly be well positioned to address the city's ambitious goals on housing, affordability, transportation and neighborhood planning.
Shrivastava was selected for the job out of 20 applicants, seven of whom were called in for interviews. She will reportedly be paid a salary of $249,000 by the city.
"We are excited to welcome Aarti back to Mountain View," City Manager Dan Rich said in a statement. "Her deep knowledge of Mountain View and the unique issues of our region, as well as her urban planning and collaborative leadership skills will be a tremendous benefit."
In taking over the leadership of city planning, Shrivastava will be filling the role left by former Community Development Director Randy Tsuda, who headed the department for 10 years. In October, Tsuda announced he was leaving to take an executive position at the nonprofit Palo Alto Housing.
Asked about his new successor, Tsuda praised her for being highly qualified to tackle the job's challenges. He also had some sage words for anyone stepping into the role of community development director.
"My advice is to maintain a sense of humor, have a reservoir of patience, and to stock up on good pinot noir," Tsuda said. "I can vouch that Shrivastava has the first two covered. I don't know about her wine collection."
Shrivastava will be filling one of the city's most important roles; however City Hall still faces some staffing challenges. Through 2018, the city lost 24 employees, including three department heads. In particular, the city's planning division has struggled for years to review and process a surge of development proposals.
As part of the transition, Audrey Seymour Ramberg, who currently serves as assistant city manager, will be promoted to a new position as the city's chief operating officer. In this role, Ramberg will supervise environmental sustainability and focus on organization-wide priorities such as staffing development and succession planning.
With the new responsibility, Ramberg will receive a salary increase from $247,986 to $254,186.