Stella Chao, the director of the city's Department of Neighborhoods, announced this morning that she will be leaving her post at the end of the month. Officially, she and the mayor's office are mum on the reason for her departure.

"After meeting with the mayor, Stella and the mayor agreed that her name would not be put forward for reconfirmation by the council," is all I could extract from Mayor Mike McGinn's spokesman, Aaron Pickus.

But belying the niceties that typically come with such resignations, other city sources says that Chao was a source of unwanted friction. For instance, Southeast Seattle has hosted conflict over whether the area should allow more low-income housing and social services; service providers and developers have rubbed up against certain neighborhood residents who resented a disproportionate number of services in an lower-income neighborhoods. Chao was seen as someone who, rather than bringing those factions together, wouldn't resolve significant conflicts on the Southeast District Council, sources say. The Dept. of Neighborhoods declined to comment.

The city has not appointed anyone to take Chao's place; Pickus insists that there is no plan to appoint Kimberlee Archie, the current deputy director, as the acting director. "The details and the search process are going to be released in a future announcement," he says.

But Chao seems to disagree with the mayor's office on that point. "Until the Mayor's Office makes an announcements of their long term plans, Kimberlee Archie, Deputy Director, will step up as the Acting Director, as she has always backed me up during my absences," Chao wrote to city employees.

Chao has held the job for four years, appointed by former mayor Greg Nickels, overseeing neighborhood service centers, city matching funds, historic preservation, and other community programs.