By Teresa Rochester
March 31 -- Artwork and unpacked boxes are neatly stacked in a
corner of Assistant City Manager Gordon Andersons 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 hell 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 boards primary link to City Hall on the Transit Mall project.
Ive 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 theyre 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 cant control is private work. We cant
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 Pasadenas 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 Associations 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
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.