Zapata replaces Steve Hollister, who resigned effective June 30, 2011, after a closed session meeting on December 20, 2010. Since then, Lianne Marshall has served as Interim City Manager.
The San Leandro City Council initially sought to recruit and hire a City Manager using an ad-hoc committee consisting of Mayor Stephen Cassidy, Councilmember Diana Souza and Vice Mayor Ursula Reed (later replaced by Gregory). After the process fell apart, the San Leandro City Council voted to hire the recruitment firm Teri Black & Company.
Zapata is likely the first San Leandro City Manager not promoted from within and also the first non-white City Manager.
Zapata currently serves as National City's City Manager, where he was hired in 2004. Prior to that, he served as Deputy City Manager for Glendale, Arizona. Zapata also was the City Manager for the Arizona cities of Superior and Eloy.
In April 2011, Zapata was one of five finalists for a City Manager position in Chandler, Arizona, but lost out to the Interim City Manager. In March 2010, Zapata withdrew his name for consideration for Stockton's City Manager position after it became known that he was being interviewed as a finalist for the position. When Zapata announced that he was hiring National City Councilmember Frank Parra to replace retiring Fire Chief Rod Juniel in early 2010, critics noted that Parra had no firefighting experience and that Zapata was essentially hiring one of his bosses.
Zapata's current salary, according to the National City web site, is $165,000, the same as when he was hired in 2004. His monthly car allowance and housing allowance were increased from $550 to $750 and from $250 to $500, respectively, in 2007, an increase of $5,400 annually. In lieu of salary increases, Zapata received one-time payments totaling $53,000 from 2006 to 2009. Zapata also took voluntary pay cuts of $8,250 in 2006 and $6,346 in 2009 "due to economic conditions."
Compared to San Leandro, National City has about 26,000 less people, with 63% Hispanic or Latino, while San Leandro has 27.4%. Racially, whites account for 42% of National City and 37.6% of San Leandro, Asians account for 18.3% of National City and 29.7% of San Leandro, and African Americans account for 5.2% of National City and 12.3% of San Leandro.
Below is a list of previous San Leandro City Managers: