After a nationwide recruitment, City Manager Jennifer Maguire has hired Omar Passons as the newest Deputy City Manager on her Leadership Team. Passons assumes the role on June 12.
“A City’s job was once seen as providing basic services and solving an assortment of problems that appeared to be definable. With basic services generally addressed, we must turn our attention to much more difficult problems,” said Maguire. “Omar has the experience to successfully coordinate across the organization, with other governmental agencies, as well as with nonprofit partners across our community to tackle homelessness and other intersectional quality of life challenges, including keeping our City clean as well as vehicle abatement and code enforcement issues. Omar’s proven record and ability to execute transformative systems will advance the City’s priority to end homelessness and improve the quality of life for all San Joséan’s.”
“Omar Passons’ extensive career will bring an expert-caliber perspective in public health, land use, and housing to San José,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “As we tackle our most vexing issue, homelessness, profoundly storied experiences like Omar’s ensure the City of San José makes meaningful progress in scaling our local housing solutions and aligns our program design with the broad needs in our neighborhoods.”
Deputy City Managers play an important role in the leadership of the City. Each Deputy serves as a key advisor to the City Manager, supporting Maguire in driving City Council priorities, coordinating a portfolio of service areas and departments, carrying out City Council policy direction, ensuring attainment of service delivery goals, and helping the City achieve/tackle its Enterprise Priorities. The City Manager and her deputies are also responsible for executing the new City Roadmap — a tool prioritized and approved by the Mayor and City Council to communicate, manage, and measure the City’s change management and service transformation priorities and to build trust with and be accountable to the public. Passons will lead the Ending Homelessness and co-lead the Clean, Vibrant, and Inclusive Neighborhood and Public Life Enterprise Priorities, which includes the following portfolio: Housing Department (e.g., expansion of the emergency housing system, improving the coordination of safety net services, encampment services, outreach, and assistance, and the coordination of advocacy for additional federal and state grants), BeautifySJ Initiative (e.g., neighborhood beautification projects, reduction of trash and graffiti, and encampment clean ups), Vehicle Abatement Program, and Code Enforcement, among other assignments.
After evaluating neighborhood revitalization efforts, Passons began his public health career in 2000 as a Health Policy Analyst for the United States Department of Health and Human Services where he used data and performance metrics to analyze the success of government programs. In 2007, two years after being admitted to the California Bar and beginning a land use practice, he joined the State of California Department of Transportation as a Deputy Attorney where he focused on litigation and land use issues. From 2011 to 2017, he held several positions in private law firms focused on public entities and land use; he then joined the non-profit/foundation Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation as Vice President of Community Development and Policy. In 2018, he joined the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency and held two Director positions with the most recent being the Director of the Office of Homeless Solutions in the Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities (HSEC). Most notably, he laid the foundation for the establishment of the HSEC – the first of its kind in San Diego County that seeks to align dozens of County departments, city governments, non-profit organizations, philanthropic entities, businesses, organized labor, and community residents with a focus on preventing and ending homelessness. The interdisciplinary teams examine land use, economic support, health care, housing, and other areas to consider the needs of the whole person in addressing homelessness.
“I looked at the leadership in the City Manager’s Office, the commitment of the Mayor and Council, Santa Clara County’s engagement, the strong Housing Authority, the leadership of Destination Home, and a community that has embraced real solutions with local support and I realized this was an incredible opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people living in San José,” stated Passons. “I’m excited to join the team and get to work on furthering holistic solutions to ensure every resident can live with dignity and security and solving quality-of-life issues to ensure all San Josè residents enjoy this wonderful community.”
Passons completed his undergraduate degree in Philosophy and his Master of Public Health at the University of Arizona. He received his Juris Doctor from George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia. Passons is an engaged community member and has served on several advisory committees and boards for organizations focused on workforce and economic development, youth, and homelessness, and was on the Board of his Town Council for ten years. He is on the Management Committee of the Urban Land Institute for the San Diego/Tijuana region and Chair of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sub-committee, a past president of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, and former member of the California Association of Black Lawyers.
In 2020, Passons received the Chief Administrative Officer 2020 Leadership Award and the California State Association of Counties Innovation Award for his work in homelessness. Earlier this year, his team won the National Association of Counties achievement awards for Housing Our Youth and Veterans Community Care Coordination, two system change efforts that provided homes and wrap-around support for people experiencing homelessness. Passons grew up in San Diego, entering the foster care system as an infant. He had over 100 foster brothers and sisters growing up and looks forward to learning and getting to know the community in San Josè.
About the City of San José
With more than one million residents, San José is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States and is Northern California’s largest city and the 10th largest city in the nation. San José’s transformation into a global innovation center has resulted in one of the largest concentrations of technology companies and expertise in the world. In 2011, the City adopted Envision San José 2040, a long-term growth plan that sets forth a vision and a comprehensive road map to guide the City’s anticipated growth through the year 2040.