Just four months after longtime department chief Joseph Horwedel left, San Jose will lose another of its lead planning directors, Laurel Prevetti, who accepted a job as assistant town manager of Los Gatos.
Prevetti’s departure next month will leave another prominent vacancy in the city’s Department of Planning, Building and Code Enforcement, an office already only 83 percent staffed after years of resignations, budget cuts and layoffs. David Sykes, the city’s head of public works, has served as the department’s interim director since Horwedel’s departure.
As a 28-year veteran of San Jose’s planning office and assistant director of planning, Prevetti worked on some of the city’s defining developments. She played a key role in shaping the latest general plan, Envision San Jose 2040, which laid out a blueprint to transform the so-called Capital of Silicon Valley from a car-reliant bedroom community into a denser, public transit-connected urban center.
“The general plan, that’s what’s leading to all the new bike lanes, the new high-rise developments in downtown, the transit centers and the density,” Prevetti told San Jose Inside. “We’re really starting to see the city conform to this vision we laid out in the general plan.”
Raised in Los Angeles, Prevetti moved to the Bay Area to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned her bachelor’s and masters of science. After her graduate studies, she signed on to the city’s planning division, working her way up over the years to second-in-command. Her salary as assistant planning director was $155,000. Her salary at Los Gatos will be $160,00.
She said the newly created position of assistant town manager/community development director in Los Gatos gave her a chance to continue serving the community while giving her a step up in her career.
“This is a fabulous opportunity for my career development,” she said. “I really enjoy working with elected officials and residents, so being able to continue that in another capacity is very exciting.”
In her new role, Prevetti will work under Town Manager Greg Larson, who also came from the city of San Jose, where he served as deputy city manager. As one of the town’s top administrators, Prevetti will oversee building and inspections, planning and housing projects. Once Assistant Town Manager Pamela Jacobs retires on June 23, Prevetti will take on broader responsibilities in her absence.
“Combining these positions will enable us to elevate our support of the Town Council, Planning Commission and community,” Larson said. "We’re really starting on a comprehensive review on all our planning policies and practices and I think she brings the expertise and capacity to deal with these complex land use issues."