Retiring Piedmont City Administrator Sara Lillevand reflects on action-packed tenure

On Sara Lillevand’s relatively uncluttered desk in her City Hall office, an exceptionally thick binder stands out. She points to it and says, “that … is the Housing Element,” referring to the living document that will inform and guide residential development in Piedmont for years to come.

Work to create the current installment of that plan, an eight-year cycle covering 2023 through 2031, has taken up a big chunk of Lillevand’s time during her almost four years as Piedmont’s city administrator (and the time of the City Council and city staff, as well).

“I’ve learned a lot about state housing law,” said Lillevand, 54, who is stepping down this coming week as city administrator to spend more time with her family, including her father. “By definition, I’m learning all the time.

“It’s a tough process for all cities,” Lillevand said of the Housing Element. Planning for 587 new residences to be packed into an already built-up 1.7-square-mile city — a number set by the state — has been an obvious challenge for Piedmont — if also an opportunity to provide a more diverse future citizenry.

Lillevand said work on the Housing Element, planning required of all California cities by the state to accommodate enough homes to handle expected population growth, was challenging but interesting and engaging — and even fun, as she defines it.

“For me, ‘fun’ is doing hard things well, and I’d say that’s been a big part of this job,” Lillevand said.”

Two major projects mark Lillevand’s run as city administrator. While helping oversee creation of that Housing Element was probably the most demanding, complex, and oft-times contentious task she and other city leaders have dealt with in recent years, the work to bring the Piedmont Community Pool project to life has had a different personality, though it was still a daunting challenge, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown era. It started with “the courage of the City Council” to float the idea of such an advanced project, and a dedicated team to tell the community why the new pool is important to the community’s fabric. Residents then had to vote to tax themselves to build it, at a cost of more than $24 million.

“A vast majority of the community came together to do what seemed impossible, especially among the economic uncertainties,” Lillevand said. “Most people said that it could not have been done — but we did it!” 

Lillevand is part of the community’s fabric herself, having grown up in Piedmont. A graduate of Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, Lillevand has served as director of athletics at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, and also was head women’s basketball coach there as well as an instructor of kinesiology (the study of the mechanics of body movement). She also worked at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford as a physical therapist.

She joined Piedmont’s government in September 2014 as its recreation supervisor, and has been a senior manager with the city since that time. When former City Administrator Paul Benoit retired in 2019, Lillevand was chosen to succeed him.

Lillevand said she’s had great working relationships with the City Council, but also with Alameda County’s city managers and city administrators. Those managers typically meet monthly, Lillevand said, but during the pandemic met weekly to help one another rise to myriad new challenges none had faced before.

“It’s a tremendous group, and it would have been hard to do this job without support from that team,” she said. 

And now, Rosanna Bayon Moore -– who is leaving her post as Antioch’s assistant city manager – will succeed Lillevand. Officially, Lillevand’s last day, and Bayon Moore’s first day, is Thursday. Lillevand’s last council meeting is Monday night, April 3, where she is set to receive a formal proclamation.

Any advice for Bayon Moore? “To slow down a little, to look, to listen,” Lillevand said. “She’s going to be great.”

Lillevand won’t completely disappear; she and her family live in Piedmont. Immediate plans, she said, will involve “letting my brain slow down” and concentrating on family. “I do want to be quiet for a while.”

She said she’ll miss the people she works with every day. And she vowed to not be on the sidelines forever. 

“I’ll be pretty excited to figure out what’s next after that,” she said.

Contact Sam Richards at

4 thoughts on “Retiring Piedmont City Administrator Sara Lillevand reflects on action-packed tenure

  1. Simply put, everything Sara has done along her professional journey has resulted in her leaving the places and spaces better than she found them. Along the way, she has mentored and motivated folks to do more than they thought they were capable of…individually and collectively. Sara is the consummate bridge builder. I am trying to recruit her to “head east” for her next chapter! Well done, Sara. I am not sure you know to rest but I hope you do just that before your “what’s next.”

  2. Thank you Sara for generously giving your time, energy, skills and deep commitment to our City, residents and staff! Your contributions will be remembered and appreciated for many years to come.

    Now you will be able to enjoy our City and not worry about it! haha 🙂

    Warmest wishes for much quiet and family time!
    -Connie & Mark

  3. Sara is the best boss any fire chief could ask for. (Paul, you are close second)….Sara is the type of leader that inspires greatness while making you feel valued and appreciated. I am grateful to have known her and will always treasure her mentorship. I wish Sara and family the very best!

  4. Sara is the best. A wonderful partner in running Piedmont government. An inspirational woman on every level. Piedmont is lucky she gave our town her all.

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