San Luis Obispo’s Community Development Director John Mandeville, who retired this week, is described by colleagues as a leader and a master arbiter — both traits deemed assets to a successful 18-year career with the city.
Mandeville admits to having memorized the city’s 386-page general plan like an encyclopedia.
“It is our land-use bible, and so I knew it by heart,” Mandeville said.
Mandeville, who joined the city in 1993, was named community development director in March 2001 after the retirement of Arnold Jonas.
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During his tenure with San Luis Obispo, 1,262 new homes and more than 1.8 million square feet of commercial space was approved.
In addition, the city annexed the Margarita and Orcutt Area and significant portions of the Airport Area — significant steps in securing the city’s future vision for additional homes and commercial areas.
Mandeville hesitates when asked what project he felt the most connected to over his years both as a director and as a long-range planner for the city, admitting the list is lengthy.
Significant developments that occurred during Mandeville’s career include the Downtown Centre, Irish Hills Plaza — including Costco and Home Depot — and the Court Street Redevelopment.
Mandeville’s involvement in all of those projects varied, but the time invested in each was often in the double digits.
Mandeville sought to make the department of 19 employees more user friendly by providing for more public input and participation in the planning process.
“I strove to be more inclusive in the process by basing recommendations on local preferences as well as sound practices in the planning profession at large,” Mandeville said.
He also created a city housing program in 2003 that has added 243 homes priced for low- and moderate-income families.
“John has helped this community in so many ways. He cares deeply about creating and nurturing our sense of place and strong quality of life. He has set us up for continued success in the future,” City Manager Katie Lichtig said.
The biggest challenge facing the city is the multiyear process of updating the general plan — which is a blueprint for regulating growth.
That document, last updated in 1994, will guide city planning for the next 15 to 20 years.
The process will include deciding where future housing will be located after the Margarita and Orcutt Areas are built out.
“We have a compact urban form, and everyone is used to the current city limits because we have done a pretty good job of infill development,” Mandeville said. “Identifying those places is going to be an eye-opening experience for the community.”
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.