North Park’s New Business Champion
By Manny Cruz
Angela Landsberg has an old love affair with the North Park community and a new job that will surely test it.
A 20-year resident, Landsberg, 42, has been hired as the new executive director of North Park Main Street, the organization that oversees the North Park Business Improvement District. She replaces Liz Studebaker, who held the job since January 2007 and turned it into a potent force for revitalization.
But no sooner had Landsberg accepted the $50,000-a-year position than the organization suffered one of its rare disappointments — the defeat of its proposed Clean & Safe district that would have provided enhanced public services in the business district and adjacent residential areas (See Councilman Todd Gloria’s column).
However, David Muscat, president of the North Park Main Street board of directors, the man who hired Landsberg at the direction of the board, says Landsberg’s past experience and her familiarity with the community will serve her well in the job. “One thing that attracted us to her was her experience in District 3,” says Muscat. “She advocated for the business owners and residents for assistance with improvements in the late ’90s and she actually helped spearhead projects for Golden Hill and South Park. And she’s quite familiar with community planning groups.”
That experience came from Landsberg’s previous political and legislative work. She was campaign manager for Christine Kehoe’s re-election campaign for City Council in 1995 and went on to work as a legislative representative in the District 3 City Council office following that successful campaign. Kehoe, of course, went on to become a state senator.
“She has a cheery disposition, presents herself very professionally, she’s well spoken and interacts very well with the public and carries herself well,” Muscat says.
Landsberg shifted her professional life quite drastically in 1999 when she left public service to work as a teacher in the San Diego Unified School District, educating kids in City Heights, Logan Heights and Point Loma. Now she’s shifting her attention back to North Park, which has undergone a renaissance in arts, culture and commercial and residential developments over the past few years.
It’s that community vitality, says Landsberg, that attracted her to the job with North Park Main Street. “I am excited about the revitalization that has been taking place over the past 10 years,” she says. “As a North Park resident, I remember a time when I had to leave the neighborhood to buy a good cup of coffee, purchase a gift for a friend or get a decent meal. My strong connection to North Park along with my background in community relations, business advocacy and my desire to continue the progress of this vibrant and diverse community inspired my attraction.”
Landsberg is familiar with some of the problems residents have had with the byproducts of North Park’s commercial expansion — notably the increase in late-night and early morning noise, rowdy behavior, drunkenness and other problems associated with local bars and some of their patrons. “Certainly there are going to be growing pains in any community that has seen the growth and vitality that North Park has seen in these past few years,” she admits. “The important piece of addressing these impacts will depend on constructive, respectful dialogue between all people involved. I believe businesses owners and residents want the best for North Park. New solutions to ensure continued vibrancy in the commercial district, including enhanced maintenance and security services, can be achieved by working together.”
Besides managing the Business Improvement District, North Park Main Street sponsors the annual Toyland Parade, the Festival of the Arts, Taste of North Park and the weekly North Park Farmers Market — all projects either beefed up or started under Studebaker. The former executive director also was responsible for leading the effort to expand the boundaries of the Business Improvement District, doubling the number of business members and increasing the funding available to the district.
Landsberg says her role in all this will be to take North Park Main Street to the next level of service to the community. “I will act as an advocate for existing businesses,” she says, “and work to bring in new businesses that support the vision of our arts, culture and entertainment community, while preserving the historical integrity of North Park.”
“I enjoy working with the public,” adds Landsberg. “I am thrilled that I get to meet and work with different people with different styles and feel that my ability to understand many different viewpoints will be a very important piece of the work I do.”
The native San Diegan and North Park resident is raising two daughters, Madeline, 9, and Sara, 7, and owns a South Park home built in 1912. “The style is not Craftsman but it has some very architectural features that make it unique,” she says. During a break from work after the birth of her daughters, Landsberg took to restoring the house and was able to obtain a Mills Act historic designation for the property.