Steve Barton Out as Housing Director

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday June 05, 2007

“Today, Housing Director Stephen Barton stepped down from his post,” Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz wrote in an email to the mayor and City Council Tuesday.  

Some of Barton’s supporters reacted strongly, telling the Daily Planet Wednesday morning that the dedicated champion of low-income and affordable housing, also a widely-respected academic and author in the field of housing, has taken the fall for a department fraught with problems and impossible to manage from the time he took it over as director in 2001.  

“Barton is a sacrificial lamb for the years of [City Council] neglect of the Housing Authority,” Councilmember Kriss Worthington told the Daily Planet. 

Others however welcomed the departure of the man they say was responsible for the “troubled” designation that the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) has given the Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA). BHA is the Housing Department division that oversees low-income housing. They also blamed Barton for a Condominium Conversion Ordinance that makes it difficult to convert rental apartments to condominiums.  

“The buck has got to stop somewhere,” said Berkeley resident David M. Wilson, arguing that Barton’s advice to the council is generally based on ideology rather than objectivity. 

Barton’s departure is part of an overall restructuring of the BHA. A new board will take over July 1 and the BHA staff will be laid off and reassigned to other city departments. Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna will take over the department temporarily. 

See the full story in Friday’s paper.