News

Menlo Park business development manager leaving

Dave Johnson's last day will be Dec. 2

Menlo Park Interim City Manager Glen Rojas has announced that the city's business development manager, Dave Johnson, will leave his post on Dec. 2. Mr. Johnson, who has worked for the city since 2003, is the first to hold that position.

"It has been an honor to work for the City, particularly with this management team," said Mr. Johnson in a press release.

In an interview, he explained that this is a good time for him to move on with Mr. Rojas departing soon, and there being a lull in activity.

He doesn't have another position lined up, but is taking time off to figure out what he wants to do next. He said he won't be leaving Menlo Park.

"It's been a very rewarding job for me. I feel I am valued at the city. And it's not easy to disengage and move on. It takes courage to do this kind of thing without a safe spot to land."

His time in office included developing the city's business development strategic plan and attracting and retaining numerous firms to Menlo Park, such as the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel and Spa, Marriott Hotel in the Menlo Gateway project, General Motors, Facebook, Ace Hardware, Amici's, Pendleton, and more.

Mr. Rojas said he will be evaluating options to maintain an aggressive business development program.

"Dave will be hard to replace. There are few individuals in the economic development community with Dave's private sector experience and his ability to understand and support the needs of the City's business community," Mr. Rojas said in the statement.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Park resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Hooray! The City's budget has needed to see a reduction in expenses for sometime now and removing this lucrative salary from the expenditure column is a good first step and can only be beneficial. It's a known fact that evaluating the effectiveness of this position and the businesses this director generated for Menlo Park has always been very difficult to quantify. Many of these entities that entered MP would have naturally located here anyway. Few other cities on the Peninsula, if any at this time, can validate the need for such a position. I highly recommend not finding a replacement.


Like this comment
Posted by Carol Shalton
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 11, 2011 at 7:11 am

9 years and only added a few companies.... How many have left? Look at the vacancies on El Camino Real. Wasted space and lots of tax dollars that could be going to fund the city. How many companies would have come here regardless of Dave Johnson?? Sorry but in these lean times do we really need to replace him.


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 11, 2011 at 8:31 am

[Portion deleted. Don't ridicule posters.] ... the record speaks for itself. With our current dumpy downtown and the property owners living outside of town charging too high a rent, I am surprised any businesses locate here. [portion deleted.]


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 11, 2011 at 9:46 am

The United States Conference of Mayors

Task Force on Vacant and Abandoned Properties

"Vacant and abandoned properties, whether residential or commercial, create costly
problems for cities – problems which have been exacerbated by the mortgage foreclosure crisis.
These properties are a drain on city budgets. They detract from the quality of life, as well as the economic opportunities, of those living around them. They are an impediment to individual neighborhood redevelopment and, ultimately, to achievement of city-wide economic development goals. "


Like this comment
Posted by boondoggle
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Seems like a nice guy but not qualified for the job and totally ineffective in it. I don't think he brought in any new business, but on a few occasions -- after companies had made the decision to move here -- he managed to jump on board and act as though he'd had a role, even though it was clear he hadn't.

We could use a real BD but I'm not sure the city manager/council know what kind of background or skills that position requires.


Like this comment
Posted by we can do better
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Johnson is a nice guy who, like the city manager, was never measured on achieving results such as increasing the sales tax revenue to Menlo Park. Instead, he focused on working with developers and is credited with two enormous projects that won't bring sales tax revenue: the Bohannon Menlo Gateway office towers and Facebook. The El Camino plan seems to favor the same kind of "no-sales tax revenue" development. If he is replaced, the position should be measured on a very few revenue-related objectives, not the 20+ goals Johnson had.


Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I have worked with Dave. I have personally seen him "in action" and making a difference in influencing the decisions of businesses which were looking at MULTIPLE opportunities to locate(sorry folks, not everyone thinks MP is the cats meow). Yes, there are a lot of empty storefronts in MP, but, C'MON MAN!, Facebook would have settled here anyway? NOT! You're town has a reputation (deserved or not) of not being worth the brain damage to try to do business in. You need a business development specialist to counter that perspective. And, Boondoggle, the pay back of such a position can be measured, is measured; you just need to take the time to do the analysis rather than poo pooing the fact that having someone with Dave's expertise does make a difference. As for Dave himself, like the vast majority of the excellent public servants MP is so lucky to have, he is one of the best.


Like this comment
Posted by In the know
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm

As a long term, east of 101 business and property owner, I can tell you that,in my experience with Menlo Park's "business development manager", he drove more of my potential tenants to Redwood City,and neighboring cities than he ever brought to to our city during his tenure! Rojas and his predecessor did nothing to improve relationships between tax paying businesses and the City. One only has to look north to Redwood City and south to Palo Alto and Mountain View to see how city government needs to change with the times.


Like this comment
Posted by Long Time Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2011 at 8:11 am

It's obvious many of the above writers don't understand the position Mr. Johnson is leaving and have attacked him personally. What a shame.


Like this comment
Posted by we can do better
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

The Council has to demand better performance from both the city manager and business development manager. My comments were about what Johnson's assigned responsibilities, which weren't clearly increasing sustainable revenue. and should have been. Nothing at all personal about that.
What is it that long-timer knows that the rest of us don't?


Like this comment
Posted by Long Time Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I don't know Mr. Johnson but there are a lot of community members who appreciate the job he does, including me. I know enough not to beat a horse because he stumbles on a muddy trail.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I wonder how someone can be smart enough to know not to beat a horse that stumbles in the mud and yet not know that Woodside and Atherton residents spend more dollars in Menlo Park than do most Menlo Park residents - interesting.


Like this comment
Posted by boondoggle
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Most of the comments here are about Johnson's performance. Where are the personal comments? (Normally the Almanac censor deletes those anyway!)

Yes, the economy is in trouble now, but he's had that job a long time, through good years as well as bad. Didn't make a difference. He came into the job without the skills or background to be successful, and he doesn't appear to have acquired those along the way. Maybe you can fault the council or staff for not giving him the support he needed, but bottom line...well, he didn't make a difference. A position that should serve to boost the city profits has proven to be just another expense.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Peter:

Long Time Menlo Man is a perfect example of why Menlo Park has so much trouble attracting business. They fail to grasp that much, if not most of the money flowing into the downtown shopping area comes from the residents of other communities that don't have shopping of their own. Because of this they fail to acknowledge input from the very people that are much of their customer base. "If you're not from Menlo Park, your opionion has no value." Never mind the fact that these same people provide most of the income for Menlo Park businesses. It's stupid and it's short sighted.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Menlo Voter, thank you for your wise words. I wish MP would take heed, & Palo Alto needs to even moreso!

I've had dealings w/Johnson re a startup in Menlo I was part of. I wasn't impressed. I found him personable & even charming, but that was it. I suspect that part of the problem was the infamous MP gov't way of doing (or not doing) business. The result of interacting w/him & the silly city left the company founder & I both feeling glad-handed, back-slapped & that was it. No follow up, no follow through, even though we did our part. Interestingly (or not- these stories are so common), our landlord had similar issues w/the city gov't. Our company left MP as soon as possible. No more Parking Nazi, no more glad-handing, no more being ignored by city council members & City staff. It was ironic because we were constantly being courted by media - TV & print both, which could have reflected very well on MP.

I know he's not at fault for all of this, but he was the face of MP for what I was involved with & no amount of charm prevented us from seeing that there was no wizard behind *that* curtain. It was pathetic.

If he did well w/FB, I wish him congratulations on that coup. I hope MP thrives w/FB.


Like this comment
Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm

About 5-6 years ago via email I asked Mr. Johnson to lead me to a document/report that shows what he has done for the city in terms of his position. He said that there were no such reports. So unless I find out otherwise I have to suspect that the good city of Menlo Park just let him draw his salary, paid his expenses with no accountability. Further, I suspect that the whole city is run that way.


Like this comment
Posted by looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

This is a position that should have never been created and should never again be filled. What a waste.

He got a big boost when Boesch left to go to the county, and one of Boesch's last moves was to give Johnson a big fat raise. Boesch knew Johnson when they were both at Sunnyvale. I agree a really Dave is a nice guy.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Orenchi Ramen expands to Redwood City
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 4,433 views

Sharing A Column About a Brilliant Teacher Idea
By Steve Levy | 6 comments | 1,381 views

Family Matters: Caring for the Dying, and Their Loved Ones
By Aldis Petriceks | 3 comments | 902 views

A fast approaching birthday
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 597 views

Henry and Fluffy, On Duty
By Stuart Soffer | 0 comments | 242 views