Redevelopment Specialist New Signal Hill City Manager

Times Staff Writer

Veteran bureaucrat Louis Shepard , known in municipal circles as California's guru of redevelopment, will take over as city manager here March 25, Mayor Gerard Goedhart announced at the City Council's regular Tuesday night meeting.

Shepard, a 52-year-old Pasadena resident, will replace David A. Caretto, who resigned from the position under pressure in November. Shepard was one of 87 applicants for the post, Goedhart said.

Shepard's arrival in Signal Hill marks the end of a clean sweep of city government officials since 1980. In the past five years, all of the city's department heads, the entire City Council and 50% of the Police Department have been replaced through elections, terminations and retirement.

20 Years of Experience

Shepard, who now works for the Los Angeles-based consulting firm of Katz, Hollis, Coren & Associates, brings with him more than 20 years of experience in municipal government.

"It (coming to Signal Hill) was not a very difficult decision," Shepard said in an interview. "Consulting was too isolated. When I saw the ad for the city manager's job, I looked into things more deeply and found out what has happened in the city for the past few years.

"I guess that working here will be a challenge and an opportunity," he said. "But it won't be the easiest thing in the world."

Shepard is probably best known for his tenure as city manager of San Pablo--a blue-collar city in San Francisco's East Bay that had no stores and 60% substandard housing when he arrived in 1967.

In the next 10 years, Shepard was instrumental in turning the city around, planning its first shopping center and upgrading housing. He also planned the city's first civic center, which was created by moving and refurbishing several old motels, coverting them into an award-winning, Spanish-style complex.

'All-American City'

In 1976, the year before Shepard left San Pablo to become executive director of Pasadena's redevelopment agency, the city--once known as the "Ugly Duckling of the Bay Area"--was named an All-American City by the National Municipal League.

"We're excited to have him (Shepard)," Goedhart said in an interview. "He has very good people skills, a proven track record with redevelopment and resounding success in a small community. He just seemed like he'd be the right type of person for our city."

Shepard will receive an annual salary of $66,000 as Signal Hill's chief executive. He refused to comment on his current salary.

According to Monte Hess, San Pablo's community development director, Shepard initiated all five of the city's redevelopment projects. When the projects are completed, they will have created nearly 2,000 new housing units and 1,000 permanent jobs in a mostly residential city.

"Lou was very deliberate and very goal-oriented," Hess said. "You know he's the boss when he's around. There's still a tremendous amount of respect for Lou in the community."

'A Tremendous Boost'

Kathryn Carmignani, a longtime San Pablo city councilwoman, said Shepard "gave San Pablo a tremendous boost."

"Under his leadership, this city started into its redevelopment program, which has been the turn-around, growth and force of the city since," Carmignani said. "It was his long-range forethought that made our redevelopment projects as successful and well-known as they are. He has a big imagination for the future."

During his tenure in San Pablo, Shepard pioneered the sale of municipal mortgage revenue bonds to finance housing construction in redevelopment areas. A resulting court suit established the constitutionality of the financial practice, which has since become a standard redevelopment tool throughout the state.

"He has a statewide reputation as one of the outstanding redevelopment directors and city managers with community development," said Joe Coomes, a Sacramento-based redevelopment attorney. "He is highly respected."

Educated at UC

Shepard received bachelor's and master's degrees in political science from the University of California in 1957 and 1959 respectively. He is married and has two children. Shepard took his first city manager post in 1964 in Delano, a rural Kern County city.

After three years in Delano, Shepard moved on to San Pablo. In 1977, he became executive director of Pasadena's redevelopment agency. When the Pasadena Board of Directors (city council) merged the semi-autonomous agency into the city's operations, Shepard lost his job and started a private consulting firm.

"The majority of the seven-member council felt that it should have more direct control over the important decisions in redevelopment," said Pasadena City Manager Don McIntyre. "It (Shepard's firing) was not a personalized thing at all. If there was any problem here, he was more a victim of the change in the political conditions.

"I think he was well respected here," McIntyre said. "Signal Hill is fortunate to have someone with his number of years of experience."

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