Monday, March 25, 2013

City Manager as Placemaker?

Mountain View, California (Photo by Bruce Liedstrand)
Bruce Liedstrand is one of the San Francisco Bay Area's great urbanists. In the early 2000s he was coaxed out of retirement by Redwood City, and he served as the Community Development Director during a critical period of time. His tenure with that city (from 2001 to 2006) put in motion a dramatic renaissance, including many streetscape improvements, the creation of a cinema which served as an important catalyst to revitalization, Courthouse Square, and the Downtown Precise Plan. Bruce was kind enough to recruit me to help him in these efforts and it has been a great experience. 

Prior to that, though, he was City Manager of Mountain View, California. You may know Mountain View as the home to Google and other tech titans. Under his leadership many great improvements were made to that city, including the transformation of Castro Street, their main downtown street, into a highly successful shopping and dining destination.

In an interview at the Urbanism Speakeasy, Bruce shares some of his stories from the Mountain View days. This interview shows how important competent municipal management is to placemaking. Listen to the interview here. The top of the page has text excerpts from the discussion, but I recommend that you scroll to the bottom and listen to the whole thing. Good stuff.

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