City manager talks about first month on the job

Ray Kerridge reflects on his first 30 days as Roseville's city manager, offers visions for the future
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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In his first month on the job, Roseville City Manager Ray Kerridge has attended almost 200 meetings. Through the meetings, he’s trying to figure out what’s happening in the city, what people like and dislike, and what improvements they hope to see in Roseville. He sat down Monday with the Press Tribune for yet another meeting, this time to talk about his first 30 days in the new position. Q: How has your first month as city manager been? A: It’s been great. I’m having a blast. I feel energized. My biggest challenge, to be honest with you, is getting around the city because this is not an easy place to get around. There’s no grid. But I’m actually now able to go places and not rely on the GPS. If I cross the rail yard twice, I know I’m probably going in the wrong direction. Q: Have you implemented any changes within the City of Roseville yet? A: Well, I don’t’ want to rush into anything, but things need to be done. I’ve been looking at the organizational structure and been getting some things going, getting some white papers done. I guess it’s kind of like a Chinese acrobat — we’ve got about five or six plates up in the air right now. I’ll give you an example. I have a couple staff people working on the concept of putting together a Developmental Oversight Committee. This will be a committee with a full range of people involved from the development community, from house building, to public members, to brokers, to utilities that can be the voice of the public talking directly to city staff. The committee will work with development partners to help us streamline systems and give us input on things we’re proposing. It’s one thing for us to propose or streamline something — it might work great for us, but it might not work for the customer. So we need to make sure everything we implement is actually achieving the goal we want. The best way to do that is involve all facets of the community in the decision-making process. Q: Can you give me another example? A: Another example would be a development corporation. If you go to the Fountains or the Galleria, Westfield doesn’t have to look very hard for businesses who want to locate there because it’s such a draw. Roseville (also) has a great housing market so you don’t have to work too hard to get developers interested in greenfield development. But when you get to the redevelopment or rehabilitation of a downtown, that’s a totally different ballgame. When it comes to downtown, the city’s role changes a lot. We have to be more proactive. We have to go out and bring developers here. What you do is bring together private interest and city interest under the corporation. Q: Redeveloping downtown Roseville is a big priority of yours. What are some other priorities? A: In general, to make sure we streamline our processes, whether it’s a development project or how we pick up the garbage. The challenge is for us to do what we do in the most efficient way. Q: Have you been able to identify any strengths with the City of Roseville? A: Absolutely. The biggest strength of the City of Roseville, I know everybody says this but it just happens to be true, is the quality of the people that work here. I have been really blown away by the commitment and the expertise that exist within the city. The other thing is the good work that’s been done here already from previous administrations and councils. It’s just a case of building upon what’s been done before. There will be some tweaking, but essentially the bones are all here. Q: What are some of the big tweaks that need to be done? A: In Roseville, the standard is very high. Sometimes what we need to do — and this is not any kind of criticism — is reevaluate those areas where our standards are significantly higher than other people’s (and other region’s) and just do a reality check. Another thing is an across-the-board audit that we’re going to be doing. We have a request for proposal right now to do the police department and fire department. But we have another financial and operational audit that I think is absolutely necessary. We think we’re doing a great job. But it’s always nice to have someone say, “Yes, in fact you are,” or “You’re not doing as good a job as you think.” Being the new city manager, I inherit everything. So for my benefit, I need to know (the condition) of what I’m inheriting. Q: How does serving as Roseville’s city manager compare with serving as Sacramento’s city manager? A: [He laughs]. It’s different. Q: How has it been working with the city council here? A: The relationship between the council and the staff is excellent. There’s a lot of respect going both ways and a lot of trust. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with this council. In all my conversations with the council members they all want Roseville to be the best that it can be and deliver the best customer service. It’s been fabulous cooperation. You can differ in detail and how you get from A to B, but the consensus has been, yes, we’re going to get from A to B. It’s very different from half of them going this way and half of them going that way. And how do you satisfy that? It’s mission impossible. Q: Any other projects you want to mention? A: I’ll go back to the downtown. We’re bringing a number of developers from around the region to take a look at what we’ve got. We’ve brought people in to listen to our plan and vision and (say), “We think this will be a good place for you to make investments now and in the future.” Q: What is the vision for downtown? A: When you go to the mall you get a certain kind of experience there. What we need in the downtown is an alternative experience. The idea would be you go to the mall in the afternoon, you do your shopping, eat lunch at McCormick and Schmick’s or wherever, then when you come downtown you get a different kind of environment. Downtown should be unique entertainment, unique dining, unique retail. Nothing down here should compete with the mall. You need retail, you need restaurants — rather than chains you need independents — you need housing. So people can live, work and play down here. Threading the whole thing together, you need public spaces where people gather. That will be the heart of the whole thing. I think the biggest challenge we’ve got in the downtown is how we connect it with historic old town. That is a tough one. But you’ve got to connect all these places together, and ultimately you’ve got to connect the mall with the downtown. There was a long specific plan process done before I came here. But everything you would expect to see in a downtown revitalization has been included. If we do it right, we should get three or four projects up and then developers will follow the action. It’s part of the city’s role to get this stuff going. We can’t do it because that’s not our job, but we can certainly facilitate a lot of that development. Q: Is there anything else you’d like to mention? A: This is a great place to be. I feel very honored to be here. As far as budgets go … we’re already beginning to see indications that the microeconomy in Roseville is coming back. The trick is going to be getting in front of that wave. What we need to be thinking right now is how do we position ourselves? We have to look at what’s coming. We can’t be caught flat-footed. When this wave hits Roseville again it’s going to be big and I just want to make sure we don’t get left behind. Sena Christian can be reached at