Changes to planning staff coming to Portola Valley | February 29, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - February 29, 2012

Changes to planning staff coming to Portola Valley

by Dave Boyce

Planning Manager Leslie Lambert has been back in her office at Portola Valley's Town Hall since last August, working four mornings a week — but the continuing effects from a concussion she suffered in January 2011 were at the core of a discussion by the Town Council at its Feb. 22 meeting.

The council, with members Ann Wengert and Jeff Aalfs absent, agreed in concept to phase out Ms. Lambert's position, create a new position of planning department manager, and allow Ms. Lambert to take a new part-time position, that of planning/building services adviser.

"The incumbent in the (planning manager) position is no longer able to fulfill the breadth of position duties, nor to work in a full-time capacity," Barbara Powell, the town's interim assistant manager, said in a report.

Ms. Lambert fell at or near her home in Mountain View and had taken an extended leave of absence to recover from a "serious concussion."

In her new position, she would work 20 hours a week and be paid her current salary pro-rated for part-time work. As a part-time employee, she will earn $45.79 per hour, Ms. Powell said.

Before her injury, Ms. Lambert led in-house planning services, with duties that included supervising a two-person planning staff and the environmental programs coordinator, preparing staff reports for the Planning Commission, and serving at commission meetings as the Town Hall liaison.

Her new duties would include providing assistance to the public on policies and procedures related to planning and building services, serving as a liaison for homeowners associations and permit applicants, and educating the public about planning and building requirements, the report said.

Asked by a council member if Ms. Lambert agreed with this new arrangement, Ms. Powell replied: "Yes, very much so."

"I wanted to do the best thing for the town and for myself," Ms. Lambert said in a telephone interview. The planning staff members "need somebody to guide them, so that was a really hard decision."

Mayor Maryann Derwin asked whether the town could afford these changes.

Ms. Powell said she had talked with Town Planner Tom Vlasic, a consultant on contract from the Menlo Park-based firm Spangle & Associates, and concluded that the new manager would assume duties now outsourced, thereby saving money. And there are places in the budget from which funds can be drawn, she added.

"So it would be a wash?" Ms. Derwin asked.

"Yes," Ms. Powell said.

Councilman Ted Driscoll asked Ms. Powell if she concurred with his perception that Ms. Lambert's position would be retired when she retires. Ms. Powell said she concurred.


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