City managers should be upbeat. They're cheerleaders without the pom-poms.
Speaking to a packed room at the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning, City Manager Chris Zapata upheld this tradition of enthusiasm.
"San Leandro is in the midst of a major transformation," he said.
Zapata's talk was keyed to the opening of the Kaiser Hospital scheduled for 2014. The new edifice is expected to bring about 2,300 medical workers to San Leandro and their spending will pump millions into the local economy.
Zapata said the city must plan now to make sure that the coming of Kaiser benefits the existing business community.
"We want to make sure they know where the florist shops are," he said. "Hospitals use a lot of flowers."
But Zapata was selling more than the hospital Tuesday morning.
Equally important, he said, is the potential of the Lit San Leandro project and its fiber optic loop. Monday, the city will get its first taste of high-speed Internet connectivity when its libraries are hooked into the new info superhighway.
Ultimately the fiber will loop through the city's manufacturing district. Zapata said this will put San Leandro in a select group of cities like Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Santa Monica, Chattanooga and Kansas City that are wired for futuristic fields like medical research, advanced manufacturing and robotics.
Rounding out Zapata's economic triangle is the Shoreline Marina Project -- a proposed office and residential development that is further back in the planning process but could galvanize the city's western flank.
Business people tend toward caution. It's tough to meet today's payroll with retail dollars not yet been spent. Nor can job seekers find employment at whiz-bang firms that are, as yet, only a gleam in city planners' eyes.
Questions were raised about crime and graffiti. Streets get more potholed by the day. The city's public school system is challenged, to say the least. (The school board is currently seeking a $39 per-parcel tax that requires a two-third vote in November. Monday night the City Council approved a resolution in support of that tax, Measure L.)
So there are opportunities and problems. What do you think? Is San Leandro poised for an economic transformation? And will current businesses and residents benefit? How?