LB’s soon-to-be new city manager already in tune with the community

pat-west.jpgBy Nick Diamantides, Staff Writer

Patrick West—soon to be the new Long Beach city manager—is already well known and liked by many residents and business owners. As director of the city’s community development department, he has spent the last two years listening to their concerns and trying to respond to their needs.
Last week, in a closed session following its regular meeting, the Long Beach City Council unanimously selected West, from a pool of more than 40 candidates, to replace former City Manager Jerry Miller who retired last June.
“I was pleased just to be considered for the position,” West said. “I feel very honored that I was selected.”
All of the candidates for the job came with impressive credentials, and one of them, Assistant City Manager Christine Shippey, had actually run the city manager’s office for a while. “Ever since Gerry Miller announced his retirement several months ago, Chris has pretty much been steering the ship, except for the few weeks that Police Chief Tony Batts served as interim city manger,” West said. “Chris has done a great job for the city and I hope she stays with us; she’s super.”
West himself served as city manager of Paramount from 1994 to 2005. During his tenure there he was credited with vastly improving the quality of life for residents of that city.
In Long Beach, the director of community development is also the executive director of the city’s redevelopment agency (RDA). In those two capacities, West has overseen quite a few large development projects and has been instrumental in attracting new businesses and jobs to the city.
One of the larger projects is a proposed Long Beach sports park. Community development, working with the city department of parks, recreation and marine, has worked for several years to bring about the development of the park on about 45 acres at the southwest corner of Orange Avenue and Willow Street. “Community development has been involved in property acquisition and entitlements for the project,” West said. “Now we have to see if we can fund it. It’s going to cost about $40 million.”
In addition, community development was instrumental in the acquisition of property for a city hall annex that has been operating for some time in North Long Beach. “It allows North Long Beach residents to do city hall business and meet with city officials without having to travel to downtown Long Beach,” West noted.
Another community development success was Target’s recent decision to build a store on Cherry Avenue at the 91 Freeway. “We worked with the planning department and Council Member Val Lerch to make that happen,” West said. He noted that in the near future the long vacant Home Base building will be demolished to make way for construction of the new Target.
As RDA executive director, West has also worked on the planned North Village development. “It’s a huge project at Atlantic Avenue and South Street,” he said. “It will be a pedestrian-friendly shopping area in North Long Beach.”
The projects overseen by community development and the RDA have included getting input from residents and business owners in the affected areas, and West has presided over many meetings during which the publicly expressed their views on proposed developments. Those meetings have established West as a man who listens and responds to the concerns and suggestions of the public.
Since the announcement of West’s promotion, many business and civic leaders have expressed their support for West.
West said his first priorities will be to implement the new city budget and to meet individually with the mayor and council members to understand what their goals and objectives are. He also plans on meeting with all city department heads individually to get their input on what needs to be done in the city.
West won’t begin his new duties until the council ratifies the city’s contract with him, and that is expected to take place on September 4.
“I’m thrilled by all the prospects and challenges I will be facing,” West said. “I’m looking forward to working with the great people in the city manager’s office and to serving the people of Long Beach.”

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