On Monday, May 3, 2021, Fremont’s longtime City Attorney Harvey Levine officially announced his plans to retire from the City. He has been working with the City Council and City staff since early March on the transition. The City is preparing to honor Levine at the May 11th City Council meeting. Appointed by the City Council in 1995, Levine served as legal counsel to the City Council and City staff for 26 years, during some of the City’s most rapid growth and change. With prior experience as the City Attorney of Pleasanton and Assistant City Attorney in San Jose, as well as a decade in private sector law, Levine was known as a strategic facilitator and negotiator for highly complex development and land use opportunities for the City, as well as a team player and creative problem solver for City staff.
The City of Fremont has only had three City Attorneys since incorporation in 1956. Levine has served twenty-one Councilmembers and four Mayors.
Mayor Lily Mei remarked, “We, at the City of Fremont, are going to miss Harvey’s strategic and wise counsel. We appreciate all the ways he consistently kept the community’s best interests in focus, the background he so willingly shared on complex issues, and his strategic problem-solving skills. The Council and I thank him for his many years of dedicated service and wish him all the best in the exciting chapters ahead for him.”
Some of the highlights of the projects he contributed to and facilitated include:
- The City’s award-winning program in the late 1990s to streamline government processes to best meet customer needs.
- The creation of the Capitol Avenue/Downtown project that resulted in recently-built residential development, new streetscape from Fremont to Paseo Padre, and the first phase of the City’s future Civic Center project with the new downtown Event Center, soon to open.
- He worked on the development of the Pacific Commons site as a commercial center.
- He provided legal counsel for the creation of the Family Resource Center and most recently the Homeless Navigation Center.
- He was also involved in preventing a rail yard from being sited across from the Warms Springs BART Station, adjacent to Tesla, where now instead several thousand units of housing are currently being built.
- He is particularly proud of the City Attorney’s Office team, including the many attorneys he has mentored here who have been successfully appointed as City Attorneys in other Bay Area cities over the years.
City Manager Mark Danaj commented, “I was lucky to have served with Harvey for the last two and a half years. His background on the issues that arose helped me navigate the newly Districted structure. The City’s prompt responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been facilitated by his problem-solving leadership style.”
Levine reflected, “My twenty six years in Fremont have been an honor. For me, public service means being trusted to solve problems for and with the community and to work in partnership with stakeholders in finding the best and lasting solutions. Fremont’s evolution since the mid-1990s has been an amazing process to have been part of. Supporting each City Council team through those challenges and opportunities has been the honor of my career. Working with excellent managers and talented staff has been a great pleasure.”
Levine will continue to practice law and is “excited about future opportunities, both professionally and with my family.”
Interim Assistant City Attorney Debra Margolis will serve as the City Attorney until the City Council appoints a permanent replacement and Levine will support the City in its transition after his retirement on May 14.