New city manager finds both beauty and challenge in Clayton

New city manager finds both beauty and challenge in Clayton

New city manager finds both beauty and challenge in Clayton
Reina Schwartz comes to Clayton with more than 33 years experience in managing local government. (Tamara Steiner photo)

CLAYTON, CA — A passionate hiker, Reina Schwartz is accustomed to slogging uphill with a heavy pack on her back. Just three months into the job, Clayton’s new city manager is finding herself on new steep trail as she prepares to meet California’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation carrying the weight of a city with differing visions of exactly where the Mt. RHNA summit is.

Schwartz, 58, knew early on in life what mountain she would climb. As an Environmental Studies major in college, her senior project was to evaluate a development planning process at the Berkeley marina.

“What I saw was a community that felt like their government was doing something to them, not for them or with them,” she said. “I knew at that point that I wanted to work in local government, improving the relationship between the community and local government.”

She is ready for the climb.

Hot button issues

Housing density is a hot button in Clayton, a small affluent town with a population of just 12,000. Every eight years, the State calculates how many housing units are needed to accommodate population growth. It assigns these numbers, including affordable housing requirements to local jurisdictions which are then required to zone for density, often pitting what residents want against what the state says they must have.

Schwartz comes to Clayton well prepared to lead. Her career spans over 33 years including five years as San Pablo’s assistant manager and 24 years with the City of Sacramento where she was director of the Department of General Services.

A California native, Schwartz graduated magna cum laude from UC Berkeley with a BS in Conservation and Resource Studies. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. After Harvard she returned to California for a job with the State of California as a fiscal and policy analyst giving her the experience needed to meet the long-term goal of growing Clayton’s financial base.

Community spirit

Schwartz was drawn to Clayton by the “beauty of the natural environment and strong community spirit.” She has a “love for small cities,” even while acknowledging the greatest frustration of the city manager’s job is “never having enough resources.”

She divides her time between her home in Sacramento which she shares with her long-time partner and an apartment in Emeryville while she looks for a rental close to Clayton.

Schwartz loves backpacking in the Sierra. Her next trip will be this summer to Hilton Lake near Mammoth.

So far, she has found no mountain too high to climb.

Contact Reina Schwartz at