Logo horizontal ruler

The Ambassador

By Teresa Rochester

March 31 -- Artwork and unpacked boxes are neatly stacked in a corner of Assistant City Manager Gordon Anderson’s sunlight-filled office, prompting jokes among coworkers that the Ohio native has yet to decide if he will stay in Santa Monica.

With two years under his belt, Anderson says he’ll be around for a while, particularly since there are a number of projects ­- from the nearly completed Downtown Transit Mall to the conceptualized Civic Center ­ to keep him busy.

“I love to be involved,” says Anderson, who serves as the Bayside District board’s primary link to City Hall on the Transit Mall project. “I’ve always been active in politics and community. I almost flunked out of college because I was so involved in the civil rights movement.”

Low-key, personable and gracious, Anderson has comfortably assumed the role of an ambassador hoping to forge a lasting relationship with representatives of a district reeling from City construction projects often blamed for a drop in business.

“I think our citizenry should be able to trust in staff,” says Anderson. “As we spend more time together, they will realize they have a good City (staff)… The Bayside board, the thing I like most about them, is they’re such a strong committed group of people.”

The trust Anderson worked to build was strained earlier this year when several small private and public construction projects began cropping up around Downtown during work on the Transit Mall. Anderson, who had assured the board that the projects would be put on hold, apologized.

Realizing that the Bayside District is still smarting from more than a year of Transit Mall construction, Anderson and City Manager Susan McCarthy are trying to find a way to delay other City projects for between 1 and 11/2 years. The suspension of work would allow residents and visitors to get to know the Transit Mall and for business owners to take advantage of some of its features, such as outdoor dining on widened sidewalks.

“We are looking at (whether we) can commit to the Downtown community that municipal work can be held off for a period of time,” says Anderson. “The construction we can’t control is private work. We can’t control utilities.”

But one Downtown project that likely will begin this month and be completed in August 2003 (with a break during the holidays) is the seismic upgrading of Parking Structures 7 and 8. Anderson said that project is necessary to ensure public safety.

It was an ambitious civic project similar to the Transit Mall that Anderson found himself working on shortly after the former banker was lured from the private sector to civil service.

After a year of spurning the advances of Pasadena’s mayor and city manager, Anderson finally agreed to go to work for the city, helping to spearhead the transformation of its aging, beleaguered downtown into wildly successful Old Town.

“I think that background from the private sector helped me because I have a very… bottom line mentality,” says Anderson, who chairs the International City Management Association’s committee on professional conduct. “I never had the option of things taking a long time. I never knew not getting something done in an expeditious manner.”

Anderson's private-sector sense of efficiency, which he put to practice in stints with the Northern California cities of San Pablo and Hayward (where he oversaw the creation of a new City Hall) lends itself well to the Bayside District, which has seen its share of commercial success and civic undertakings.

It also lends itself well to Santa Monica, whose residents are known to hold their public officials up to a high standard Anderson hopes will be met with the Transit Mall.

“I just love it when the community feels good about the evolution of things,” says Anderson.

Lookout Logo footer image
Copyright 1999-2008 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.
Footer Email icon