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Andrew Thomas Returns to Head Downtown Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

July 11, 2022 -- Andrew Thomas -- who for a decade was charged with ensuring Santa Monica's Downtown was a clean and inviting place -- will return to head the agency that runs the city's central business district.
Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas (Courtesy

Thomas, the operations manager for the Bayside District Corporation from 2001 to 2010, will head the renamed Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) as its new CEO during one of Downtown's most troubled times.

Nearly half the storefronts on the once bustling Promenade are empty and the homeless have become a visible and entrenched presence on the streets and parking structures Thomas was once charged with maintaining.

Thomas' "wealth of experience in the placemaking industry and deep understanding of the core values of Santa Monica will allow him to make an immediate impact in DTSM,” said Barry Snell, who chairs the DTSM Board.

“We trust Thomas will help the Board as it embarks on a thorough reassessment of the organization’s programs so we can continue to best serve our community, the property owners and businesses," Snell said.

Thomas, who left Santa Monica to become founding executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association (WVIA), was chosen after an "extensive CEO search and evaluation process" that drew candidates from across the county, Downtown officials said.

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"In selecting Thomas, the Board is confident it has found a progressive, transformative and coalition-building leader to serve as its next CEO and solidify DTSM’s position as one of the most renowned Business Improvement Districts in the industry," DTSM said in a press release issued Monday.

"As CEO Thomas will be tasked with navigating the many challenges city centers are facing across the country following the pandemic," officials said.

This includes "spurring economic growth, assisting with the homeless crisis and filling in the gaps created by reductions in staffing and funding within local government."

During his tenure with the Bayside, Thomas was a key player in developing the Downtown Santa Monica Property-Based Assessment District that funds enhanced maintenance, hospitality and marketing services.

As operations manager, he oversaw an expansion of the cleaning crews that scour the Promenade and surrounding streets, powerwashing sidewalks, alleys and parking structures.

He also played a key role in the Ambassador program, which has recently come under fire from some Downtown stakeholders who are calling for replacing the "safety ambassadors" added last year with security guards.

No stranger to a major challenge, Thomas joined Bayside the year of the World Trade Center bombings and was there during the Great Recession that crippled the economy from 2007 to 2009.

While in charge of Westwood Villege, he managed a $1.7 million annual budget funded from assessments on 120 properties within the District.

Thomas will replace Kathleen Rawson, who, after a quarter century heading the Promenade and central business district, stepped down in January take the reins as CEO of The Hollywood Partnership (“After 25 Years, Rawson Steps Down as Downtown Head,” December 21, 2021).

A graduate of Tulane University, Thomas is the past president of the California Downtown Association and former Chair of the Los Angeles Business Improvement District Consortium.

“It is an exciting time to be an urban placemaking professional, as our expertise and leadership has never been more needed given the challenges our traditional city partners are facing,” Thomas said in a statement.

“Downtown Santa Monica, and particularly the Third Street Promenade, remains an economically vibrant, welcoming, diverse and innovative district with so much to offer.

"I am confident that with the support of the DTSM Board, the City and our many stakeholders, we can make great things happen and continue to be the envy of other cities across the globe,” Thomas said.

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