When most people start a new job, they tend to have some time to acclimate and get into the rhythm of things.
But after being thrown into the metaphorical fire, Pleasanton's new City Manager Gerry Beaudin managed to tackle some high-profile priority items in his first few months.
From helping finalize a new contract with the local firefighter union and department to working with the City Council to approve the midterm budget, Beaudin told the Weekly he is proud of the work he and his team have been doing early on.
"It's been three months on the job and so it's really about the team and team accomplishments," Beaudin said. "Those are really important steps forward for the community and for the organization."
But looking forward, Beaudin said he still has much to focus on and is excited to apply his years of experience into current and future priority projects that he hopes will better the Pleasanton community.
Beaudin was born and raised in Northern Ontario, Canada. He came to the U.S. in 2004 after receiving his bachelor's degree from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario as well as a master in planning from the University of Toronto.
He said that planning degree was what got him into local government and really sparked his passion for public service.
"I just love public service and being able to contribute to future communities," Beaudin said. "Planning is really my passion but as time went on in my career, I realized that I wanted to contribute across the board more broadly ... so that was the shift to city management."
Prior to becoming city manager in May, Beaudin had worked for Pleasanton earlier in his career, leading the city's Community Development Department -- responsible for planning, building permits, traffic engineering and code enforcement -- between 2015 to 2019.
During his tenure, the Planning Commission and City Council worked on several projects and policy debates, including the Downtown Specific Plan update and the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone and associated Costco debates, which he said is now moving ahead as a top priority.
After leaving Pleasanton in 2019, he began his journey into upper city management when he was named assistant city manager for the city of Alameda.
"Alameda was an opportunity to move out of community development and into other parts of a local government ... and to have oversight and partnership with departments that I haven't had in the past," Beaudin said.
He said there was a lot of policy development work with Alameda that allowed him to research topics and develop recommendations through a more holistic lens.
"It was just a really helpful experience to have and I just enjoyed my time doing that kind of work," he said.
As assistant city manager Beaudin led a variety of organizational initiatives, including Alameda's Climate Action and Resilience Plan, a pilot mobile crisis response unit, and a new waste, recycling and compost franchise agreement.
His other experience during his 19-year career includes working as zoning administrator in the city of Mountain View, and before that worked in city planning with Los Altos, South San Francisco and in his native Canada.
Fast forward to Nov. 30 of last year when Pleasanton's longtime city manager Nelson Fialho retired from public employment after 17 years.
After another five months down the road, the City Council officially announced Beaudin's return to Pleasanton.
"It's just been such a warm welcome back and I just really appreciate that about the community in general," he said.
Current and future projects
Since Beaudin's official first day on May 23, he and his team have been working on several ongoing projects apart from the now-completed firefighter labor negotiations and budget review.
Some of the more recent projects include the Stoneridge Mall Framework Plan and finalizing the JDEDZ project associated with the construction of a Costco near Stoneridge Drive and Interstate 680.
The mall framework is part of an expedited process to develop plans for the future of the Stoneridge Shopping Center, which was included in the Housing Element as one of the potential redevelopment sites for affordable housing.
The hope is to finish the framework by the time the council approves the new Housing Element -- sometime next May -- so that construction can begin as early as possible.
"We want to have some structure in place so that when housing applications start to come forward with the Housing Element, we know where we want the housing to go, what other amenities we might want in that area and how the mall, as a whole, is going to evolve and redevelop over time," Beaudin said.
Regarding the Housing Element itself, Beaudin said the city should be receiving feedback from the state's environmental and the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) reviews sometime mid-November.
From there, he and his team will be going back to the council and the public to talk about the final list of housing sites.
As for the Costco project, he said that timeline is still unsure as traffic mitigation is the city's first priority. He added that the city has been meeting with contractors for the project, but because of the different agencies involved such as Caltrans, it could take a while.
"It is a priority project for us though, because we know that Costco is moving ahead," Beaudin said. "We need to have the transportation improvements in place for Costco to be able to open, so we're making it a priority."
Another big ticket item that first arose during budget discussions was the status on the West Las Positas Boulevard renovation project.
Beaudin said that apart from the council authorizing spot repairs, staff have begun looking at the comprehensive rebuild of the uneven and pothole-ridden road.
He said the idea is to continue patching it up while the city works on getting the scope of work for the project finalized and then confirming the costs before moving forward.
Some of the projects Beaudin said will finally be seen by the community in the next two months are a downtown parking lot between Abbie Street and Bernal Avenue, and a redeveloped fire station at the corner of West Las Positas Boulevard and Santa Rita Road.
Turnover in city positions
When Beaudin began his tenure, he also faced another issue apart from the barrage of council priorities -- retirements.
In addition to his predecessor stepping down, Beaudin found himself without a permanent assistant city manager, finance director and operations services and water utilities director because of retirements.
But since he started, Beaudin said his main goal has been hiring new people for those key positions and working with the team he currently has to keep up with the work at hand.
"Obviously there is disruption when people retire or someone moves on, and especially a top-level position," Beaudin said. "But in the same breath, it's a really great team and I think we've been able to keep council priorities moving forward during this time."
He said it also lends as a great opportunity to create a new team that will work with the existing one to continue bettering the city of Pleasanton.
Some of the new hires since Beaudin's tenure began include a new finance director, Susan Hsieh, who just recently started last month, and Veronica Thomas, the city's new director of human resources and labor relations.
Hsieh succeeded Tina Olson, who left Pleasanton in March to become administrative services director with the neighboring city of Livermore, while Thomas replaced former director Debra Gill, who officially retired in April after working for the city for 22 years.
Beaudin said the city is currently working to hire an assistant city manager, with Brian Dolan having retired, and an operations services water utilities director to follow Kathleen Yurchak, who also recently retired.
He said in the meantime, he will continue to work with the city and the council to create public policies and complete projects while taking into consideration the different perspectives of the residents and the council members.
"I am happy to be here working with and for the five council members who are currently on the City Council," Beaudin said. We communicate regularly about what success looks like -- for our relationship, for the organization and for the broader community."