In one of those things tactful people say publicly, Emily Baime, the new head of the Downtown Stockton Alliance, said of her predecessor, Tim Kerr, who resigned under pressure, “The last two years, we’ve been more process-driven rather than outcome-driven.”
Translation: Kerr got nothing done.
I hope Baime will. She’s a fun person, committed to downtown revival and she knows how to make downtown a destination.
Of course, she could use a little help from the city and the economy.
At the risk of over-simplifying, there’s three gotta-dos for reviving downtown. It’s gotta be clean, it’s gotta be safe and people gotta live there. The Alliance knows well the importance of restoring police. But police are a second-line defense against unsafe streets. People — people thronging the sidewalks, be they white-collar workers, shopkeepers or residents — are essential. When the good actors far outnumber the bad actors, the streets are safe and a neighborhood can flourish.
What’s needed is a master-planned community. A sophisticated gated community, perhaps on the water, perhaps with a marina (or one which rescues Stockton’s marina from irrelevance). A community with a good school, a supermarket and other neighborhood amenities. Master-planned because it has to be holistic in design. The city tried to piecemeal it and failed. It all has to be there, in one alluring package.
Unfortunately, this means the basic action necessary to restore downtown is beyond the Alliance’s reach. But the Alliance can be a key player, helping to form the necessary public-private redevelopment partnership, and must be, if its members want their downtown investment ever to pay off. Good luck, Emily.