Q & A with New City Manager Jeff Kay
On July 12, 2018, the City Council appointed Jeff Kay as the next San Leandro City Manager. Kay has worked with the City since 2009 and previously served as Assistant City Manager, before which he was Business Development Manager. Prior to his employment with the City of San Leandro, Jeff worked as a Project Manager with Willdan Financial Services, where he assisted city and county governments with economic analysis and infrastructure financing.
Jeff is committed to economic development and innovation within the city and has played a key role in the development of the City’s core economic development strategies. This includes development of the Lit San Leandro fiber optic network, the craft brewing cluster, a robust public art program, the City’s Community Workforce Agreement, and multiple successful revenue measures. He was also behind the establishment of this blog, San Leandro Next.
The City Council and staff are excited to have Jeff Kay serve as the next City Manager. As Mayor Cutter stated: “Throughout his time in San Leandro, Jeff has earned the trust of the community, our staff, and the City Council. Jeff approaches public service with integrity, a strong work-ethic, and a community-oriented approach. His institutional knowledge, experience with economic development, and financial acumen make him the ideal candidate to help our community successfully navigate the opportunities and challenges we will face in the coming years.”
We recently sat down with the new City Manager to discuss his vision for San Leandro and excitement for our future.
SLNext: What are some of your top goals for the City, and what will be your focus?
“To start, I’ll be focusing on implementing the plans and vision we’ve established. In the past few years we completed a General Plan update, a Transit-Oriented Development Strategy for the Bayfair area, a Creek Trail Master Plan, a Public Art Master Plan, a Human Services Gap Analysis, the most ambitious Capital Improvement Program in San Leandro’s history, and we’ll be wrapping up a Fiber Optic Master Plan in the next month. We also established a vision for the enhancement of our shoreline and for the revitalization of our industrial areas. For the most part, we’ve done the planning work and it’s time to move into implementation mode. My intention is to give our staff the resources, support, and space they need to bring these important projects to completion.”
SLNext: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the community in the coming years?
“Like most cities in California, we’re facing a structural budget deficit. This is primarily a function of increased costs for employee pension obligations. In short, the amount of money we need to pay to cover retirement costs for past and present employees has risen dramatically. We obviously can’t go back in time and renegotiate contracts for past employees, so we’ll need to find other ways to balance our budget. This will be particularly challenging because our workforce is already about 15% smaller than it was before the recession – and we’re busier than ever. I don’t believe it is feasible to make sizable reductions to our staffing. The City Council, staff, and our residents will need to work together to identify savings and efficiencies while maintaining the services that are so important to the community. There’s no one fix that will solve this one. We’ll need to look at a wide range of cost reductions and revenue enhancement to bring the budget back into balance.”
SLNext: What do you see as the most significant opportunities in San Leandro as we look to the future?
“We obviously have a major need for more housing for people at all income levels. If we don’t add supply, affordability will continue to be a problem. Fortunately, thanks to the planning work I mentioned, we also have a strategy in place to add housing – along with retail, restaurants, and job opportunities – in a way that will preserve the character of the community. Specifically, we have tremendous opportunities in Downtown San Leandro and at the Shoreline to add vitality, housing, and public amenities to areas that are presently underutilized. I’ve been working on some of these project for years and I’m looking forward to bringing them across the finish line.”
SLNext: What do you enjoy most about serving as the City Manager?
“The variety of issues and topics I get to work on is astounding. I can bounce from a meeting about library programming, to road rehabilitation, to public safety. I’m confident that this job will never get boring. It’s rewarding to play a role in helping all of those disparate parts to focus on one mission – which is serving the community.
“Beyond that, I enjoy work with our staff, the City Council, and the community. In spite of a busy schedule, I plan to be accessible and remain visible in the community. As much as possible, I’ll be meeting with residents to understand from their perspective how we can improve the services that we provide.”