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For Immediate Release                                                         

April 9, 2014

Media Contact
Sheri Costa-Batis
Public Communication and Engagement Manager

Redwood City Announces Key Appointments & Restructuring to Keep Pace with Unprecedented Growth and Development

Redwood City, Calif. – Redwood City’s City Manager, Bob Bell, announced new appointments and organizational restructuring that will poise the City government for success during a period of unparalleled growth and opportunity.

Bill Ekern, the City’s Community Development Director, will be appointed to the position of Assistant City Manager of Development. In this role, Bill’s focus will be on carrying out the current Downtown Precise Plan, and preparing for the next iteration and update of the Plan; implementation of the City’s real estate development strategy and plan; continued oversight of major projects occurring in the City such as Crossing 900, the Stanford Development Agreement, and the design of a process to develop the “Winslow” parking lot – another key parcel in the City’s Downtown core.  Ekern will also continue to lead the Inner Harbor visioning process and will begin developing the Specific Plan that will result from those efforts. In addition to these projects, Ekern will continue to design new parking strategies for the Downtown which will include the design of a new Downtown parking garage, and implementation of new parking and transportation strategies for the City.

“The vision that leaders past and present have put into the Downtown Precise Plan has allowed our Downtown to become the bustling center of activity and development it is today. It is a pivotal point in Redwood City’s history,” explains Bob Bell. “Using the best of our abilities, and with tremendous focus and creativity, we owe and will deliver to our City Council and community the execution of the plans they worked so hard on. We are fortunate to have someone with Bill’s skills and proven track record in our City to help lead these efforts as we see Redwood City’s transformation over a period of accelerated growth and change.”

Bell continues, “These types of organizational changes will continue and we will ensure the success of our community by having the right people in the right roles at the right time. That is why I am pleased to announce what we are doing today. With more than 2,500 housing units in the pipeline and 740,000 square feet of office/commercial entitled and/or under construction, we have to make sure we get it right, and focusing Bill’s skills and efforts in these areas is the best way to ensure our success.”

Beyond overseeing milestone projects such as Redwood City’s Crossing 900 – the largest development in Redwood City since the Theater Way project – Bill brings years of experience from San Jose’s Redevelopment Agency. “During an unprecedented time of growth, a City needs to focus on how to see all projects through – from early negotiation that aligns with vision, to when the shovel hits the ground, to when the site is ready for new tenants,” states Bill Ekern. “Redwood City wants to remain focused on what is really important – bringing identified goals and projects that are meaningful to the community to fruition.”

Aaron Aknin, currently Palo Alto’s Assistant Director of Planning and Community Environment, will be appointed as Redwood City’s new Community Development Director. Aknin, as the new Community Development Director, will provide leadership and oversight to the planning, building and engineering services functions of the Community Development Department.

Aknin has years of experience leading complex community engagement processes; analyzing and streamlining processes through the use of technology; utilizing best practices and training to increase employee capacity and knowledge; and working with stakeholders to develop meaningful transportation solutions.  Aaron will also be focused on developing new strategies and process improvements in code enforcement, permit processing, building, and engineering services.

“We are fortunate to be able to bring an experienced professional like Aaron on board,” states Bob Bell, City Manager. “He has an excellent reputation for working through complex policy issues, and navigating projects in partnership with the community. These are high value skills critical for this position. In an increasingly competitive labor market for key public sector positions, we are lucky to have Aaron join us in Redwood City. He will be a valuable member of the executive team and a great leader of our Community Development Department. ”

Aknin looks forward to joining the Redwood City team as Community Development Director. “As a San Mateo County native, and as someone who has spent my career on the Peninsula, I am honored to join an organization with a reputation for having highly professional staff that is committed to serving their community.  This is dream job for someone in my field.  I look forward to working with Redwood City residents, neighborhood groups and business leaders for years to come.”  

Public Works, which had been placed in Community Development, will return to its own separate department to continue to address important quality-of-life issues such as street, sewer, water, and tree maintenance, as well as flood control.

To learn more about significant projects currently in the planning phase in Redwood City’s Downtown, and the various roles, functions and highlights of our Building, Planning, Transportation and Engineering efforts, click here.



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