Andrew Thomas returns to lead downtown Santa Monica
By Jorge Casuso
July 11, 2022 – Andrew Thomas – who for a decade was responsible for ensuring downtown Santa Monica was a clean and inviting place – will return to head the agency that manages the city’s central business district town.
Thomas, chief operating officer of the Bayside District Corporation from 2001-2010, will lead the renowned Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) as its new CEO during one of the downtown’s most troubled times.
Nearly half of the storefronts on the once bustling boardwalk are empty, and the homeless have become a visible and entrenched presence in the streets and parking lots that Thomas was once responsible for maintaining.
“Thomas’ wealth of experience in the placemaking industry and his deep understanding of Santa Monica’s core values will allow him to have an immediate impact on DTSM,” said Barry Snell, who chairs the board of directors. administering DTSM.
“We hope Thomas will assist the Board as it undertakes a thorough reassessment of the organization’s programs so that we can continue to better serve our community, owners and businesses,” Snell said.
Thomas, who left Santa Monica to become the founding executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association (WVIA), was chosen after an “extensive CEO search and evaluation process” that drew applicants from across the county, said downtown officials.
“In selecting Thomas, the Board is confident that it has found a progressive, transformative and coalition-building leader to serve as its next CEO and solidify DTSM’s position as one of the world’s leading business improvement districts. most renowned in the industry,” DTSM said in a statement. press release released on Monday.
“As CEO, Thomas will be tasked with addressing the many challenges facing downtown areas across the country as a result of the pandemic,” officials said.
This includes “stimulating economic growth, helping with the homelessness crisis and closing the gaps created by staff and funding cuts in local government”.
During his tenure at Bayside, Thomas played a key role in the development of the Downtown Santa Monica Property Assessment District, which funds enhanced maintenance, hospitality and marketing services.
As director of operations, he oversaw an expansion of cleaning crews that scour the boardwalk and surrounding streets, sidewalks, alleys and parking structures.
He also played a key role in the ambassador program, which recently came under fire from some downtown stakeholders who are calling for the replacement of “safety ambassadors” added last year with security guards.
Knowing a major challenge, Thomas joined Bayside the year of the World Trade Center attacks and was there during the Great Recession that crippled the economy from 2007 to 2009.
While in charge of Westwood Villege, he managed an annual budget of $1.7 million funded by appraisals of 120 properties in the district.
Thomas will replace Kathleen Rawson, who, after a quarter century at the helm of the Promenade and central business district, resigned in January to take the reins as CEO of The Hollywood Partnership (“After 25 years, Rawson steps down in as Chief of Downtown,” December 21, 2021).
A graduate of Tulane University, Thomas is past president of the California Downtown Association and past chairman of the Los Angeles Business Improvement District Consortium.
“It’s an exciting time to be an urban place-making professional, as our expertise and leadership have never been more needed given the challenges our traditional urban partners face,” Thomas said in a statement. .
“Downtown Santa Monica, and in particular the Third Street Promenade, remains an economically vibrant, welcoming, diverse and innovative neighborhood with so much to offer.
“I am confident that with the support of the DTSM Board, the city and our many stakeholders, we can do great things and continue to be the envy of other cities around the world,” Thomas said.