Getting to know David Blumenthal

DOWNEY - David Blumenthal, senior planner in the city's community development department, was born and raised in west Anaheim until he was 18. He is a graduate of Magnolia High School.

While growing up, David enjoyed watching the Los Angeles Dodgers play, especially catcher Mike Scioscia, now the Angels coach. His current number one favorite Dodger player is the team's pitching ace, Clayton Kershaw, who pitches the first game of the Western Division playoffs today (Thursday) against Atlanta. No doubt David will be watching the game on TV.

Anticipating that the Dodgers will win it all, David has made sure he has tickets for the divisional and national league playoffs as well as the World Series (he goes to some 20-25 Dodger games a year otherwise). If further proof is needed for his true-Blue hero worship, check out his office at city hall. Dodger player bobblehead dolls magnificently line his back desk.

He also has a place in his heart for the Oakland Raiders.

Married 5 1/2 years ago, David also knows how to enjoy other pleasurable activities as travel, food, and such. In his own words: "My wife [Mina] and I both enjoy going to Disneyland, trying new restaurants, and traveling. In fact, I have been all around the U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii), Australia, New Zealand, and Korea. Our next trip will be a return to Hawaii for a friend's wedding in December. Two years ago, my wife and I started a multi-year effort to attend every county fair in the state of California. So far, we have been to seven of the 58 country fairs."

After earning his BA in environmental analysis and design from UC Irvine in 1998, David started as a planning intern from April 1998 to March 1999 for the city of Fountain Valley, followed by a stint with the city of Garden Grove, first as an assistant planner from March 1999 to October 2000, then as an associate planner from October 2000 to January 2002.

He then served as associate planner for the city of Rancho Palos Verdes from January 2002 to January 2006 before hooking up with the city of Downey that same month in the same capacity. In the nearly eight years David has worked for the city, he has seen the size of the community development department, and that of the planning division, shrink as a result of budget cuts. Everybody had had to "do more with less," he said. However, this didn't mean a diminution of service to the public and the community.

"It just meant each one of us had to carry more load than usual," David said. "We experienced a few delays here and there perhaps as a result, but otherwise the work of the department proceeded as well as could be expected."

In the process, he said, he got to work on projects that demanded, and got, his best energies and focus. The result? The challenges deepened one's knowledge, honed critical skills, and provided immersive experience in communication and presentation.

"I wouldn't trade this valuable experience for anything," David said. "I love my job. This is a great city to work for."

Outlining his main functions, he said: "Here, I am responsible for managing complex projects, which have included updating the city's Zoning Code and the housing element of the General Plan, implementing the city's permit tracking system, and overseeing the creation of the Downtown Downey Specific Plan. I am also responsible for training the interns, advising the younger planners on projects, and making sure the planning staff gives exemplary customer service. Additionally, I consider myself a driving force in the implementation of technology in the city, which includes managing the already mentioned city's permit tracking system."

Further, David said: "Some of my favorite projects I have worked on include the 46 new townhomes project at Lakewood and Gallatin, a new medical office building at 8377 Davis St., the façade remodel at 10000 Lakewood, the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Paramount, refurbishment of the former Sambi's Restaurant (coming soon), a new Chik-fil-A restaurant at 8613 Firestone Blvd. (coming soon), replacement of the McDonald's at Lakewood and Gallatin (coming soon), and a new 9-unit townhome development at 7634 Stewart and Gray (coming soon). Besides working with the city council and the planning commission, I am the staff liaison to the Green Task Force."

He has had to deal with difficult situations as well. One of the most uncomfortable situations, he says, is when he has to inform a homeowner who has just bought a property that a code violation, such as a prior illegally-built extension in the garage, has to be rectified, which of course involves expense, and other things of this nature.

It's just the nature of the beast, David says, but "We do it for the city's best interests."

His dad, age 97, has Russian roots and still lives in their original house in Anaheim. David says he draws his drive and work ethic from lessons his dad, who worked as a tool and die maker, provided. His siblings (three brothers, two sisters) are "scattered all over the country." A brother, for example, lives in Alaska and works for an aircraft firm, while another lives in Florida.

His mom is of German descent and resides in Arizona with his stepdad.

********** Published: Oct. 3, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 25