Interim Planning Director Jonathan Lait has been named as the permanent Planning Director for Palo Alto, City Manager Ed Shikada announced today. Lait, who has been with the City since 2014, has served in an interim capacity since April 2018. His appointment will go to the City Council for confirmation at the Feb. 11 meeting, as required by the City Charter that includes specific positions requiring such approval.
“Jonathan has been on the front lines in Planning since he joined the City four years ago and has shown the leadership and ability to navigate what is arguably one of our toughest and most high-profile positions,” said City Manager Ed Shikada. “He has successfully managed the department while continuing to bring forward key policy items related to zoning and land use, which are clearly community quality of life priorities and constitute a significant part of the Council’s agendas.”
Shikada added that the appointment of Lait as permanent Planning Director is a key step in the reunification of the City’s Planning, Development Services, and Code Enforcement operations, which were separated several years ago. Transportation, which has been included under the Planning Department, is being reorganized as separate office with the recruitment of a Chief Transportation Official expected this spring.
Lait joined Palo Alto as an Assistant Director in the Department of Planning and Community Environment in October 2014. Prior to joining the City, he served for six years as an Assistant Director of Community Development with the City of Beverly Hills. He has also held similar positions with the cities of Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach.
During his tenure with Palo Alto, Lait has been involved in a wide range of planning-related activities and served on several commissions and boards in support of Council priorities. Lait has managed the implementation of the Council’s housing work plan, including zoning changes to spur affordable and workforce housing. He has also facilitated passage of ordinances related to Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations, retail preservation, code updates, office cap limits, and is leading the staff work related to the North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan.
“Palo Altans are deeply invested in their community and I appreciate how land use decisions can impact the quality of its neighborhoods and the success of its businesses,” said Lait. “I look forward to engaging the community to balance the diversity of interests, so that together, we can strive to enhance the quality of life for those who live, work, and visit our community.”
Lait holds a bachelor’s degree in resource planning and interpretation from Humboldt State University and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Woodbury University. He is also a member of the American Planning Association and received his certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners.