Ezra Rapport, who served as ABAG Executive Director from 2010 to 2016 and as Deputy Executive Director from 2008 to 2010, died October 6 at his Oakland home after an 11-year battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
During his years at ABAG, Mr. Rapport spearheaded development of the regional planning framework that culminated in the 2013 adoption of the original Plan Bay Area and oversaw the ABAG units working on energy efficiency, clean water supply, climate adaptation and disaster resilience, risk management, local finance, trail management, open space and economic development.
Before joining the ABAG staff, Mr. Rapport was a close confidant of former state Senate Pro Tempore Don Perata and served as Sen. Perata’s point person for the creation of a new regional ferry system. Mr. Rapport drafted a series of laws that established the San Francisco Bay Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), which operates the San Francisco Bay Ferry service, as well as the legislation that authorized the placement of Regional Measure 2 on Bay Area ballots in 2004.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Rapport served as an assistant in the Oakland City Attorney's office and then as Oakland's Deputy City Manager, where he was directly involved in recovery efforts after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley hills firestorm. Mr. Rapport later served as Chief Operating and Development Officer for the City of New Orleans, where he led recovery operations after the 2005 flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina.
Mr. Rapport's academic achievements include a B.A. in History from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a Master's degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law.
Mr. Rapport is remembered by friends as a determined iconoclast who was unafraid to ruffle bureaucratic feathers with his bold ideas and strongly held beliefs. His integrity, good heart and commitment to public service was unquestioned, even by those he sometimes rankled. Mr. Rapport is survived by his wife Andrea and their three children.