Tuesday night the Oakland City Council voted to name Michael Colbruno, a longtime planning commissioner, to the Port’s oversight body. Colbruno has sought a seat on the board since January 2012 when gay Port Commissioner Michael Lighty abruptly resigned.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan had pledged to nominate an LGBT person to the Port Commission, at one point telling the Bay Area Reporter she “would love” to find an out person with maritime experience. But her selection of nominees for port seats became embroiled in racial politics, and three vacancies last year went to straight candidates.
She made good on her promise this year by nominating Colbruno for a port seat. He worked as a legislative aide for lesbian former state lawmaker Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) when she served on the Assembly Committee on Ports.
He had the backing of the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club, which sent council members a letter May 1 urging them to support Colbruno’s selection.
“No one in Oakland has deliberated on more land use related issues concerning the Port and its adjoining property than Michael in recent years,” wrote the LGBT political club.
It added that three years ago the city’s LGBT Roundtable had prioritized recruiting qualified candidates for the Port Commission as a top concern.
Quan reportedly interviewed 50 people before selecting Colbruno for the seat. As a planning commissioner for seven years, including back-to-back terms as chair, Colbruno had worked on the rezoning of land on or near the port and the former Oakland Army Base, which is being redeveloped. He stepped off the planning commission this month.
“I’m honored to have served three mayors, first as a Planning Commissioner and now as a member of the Port Commission,” Colbruno wrote in a Facebook note to the B.A.R. “Oakland’s Port has endless opportunities at its airport, over 20 miles of shoreline and its maritime division. I’m eager to help drive this amazing economic engine to new heights…and we have the best views of San Francisco.”
He has been a vocal critic of the Golden State Warriors basketball team’s decision to relocate to San Francisco and build a new arena along the Embarcadero on a dilapidated pier. This week he posted photos to his Facebook account to demonstrate the blocked views the sports facility will cause along the waterfront.
“They need to rebuild in Oakland, which is on mass transit and won’t destroy the waterfront,” wrote Colbruno.