January 26, 2007

Regional urban landscape is unique, says local leader

By Pablo Jaime Sáinz

There’s no doubt that the high costs of housing is a major problem affecting residents of San Diego County. That’s why thousands of people have left San Diego and are now living in Tijuana, crossing the border on a daily basis to work in the U.S.

There’s also no doubt that something must be done in order to find better solutions and better policies that would ease the burden of expensive housing in the region.

The local chapter of an international non-profit organization that aims to provide leadership, the responsible use of land planning and creating sustainable, thriving communities has named a new board president who will try to create a better network and dialogue among key players in this topic.

Tony Pauker, regional president of The Olson Company, a nationally recognized developer of unique residential communities throughout California, has been named chair of the non-profit Urban Land Institute (ULI) San Diego/Tijuana District Council.

In San Diego, the group aims to make an impact on public policy and facilitate local discussion of issues related to land use, procedures and practice throughout the city.

The chair of the 15-member board sets The Urban Land Institute’s agenda and works with the board members on the project.

One of the major goals Pauker has as the new chair is to promote better relationships with Baja California real estate leaders and get the Hispanic community of San Diego more involved in land issues.

“It’s really important to include Tijuana because, if you look at the whole region, this is a metropolis of five, six million people. It just happens to have a border in the middle,” said Pauker, who has been a member of The Urban Land Institute for the past 16 years. “From Camp Pendleton passing through Rosarito all the way to Ensenada, we’re all pretty much tied.”

Currently, the Urban Land Institute hosts one event per year on real estate in Baja California.

“We’re going to engage more people north of the border in North Baja California. We’re also setting up a committee that would focus on this area and would set up additional events,” he said.

The Urban Land Institute has a Cross Border Committee .

Pauker will also oversee the creation of “Technical Advisory Panels” that local cities and jurisdictions can use to help solve urban land use challenges. One of the ways to include more Latinos would be to establish these panels in border cities and communities, such as San Ysidro, he said.

He said that The Olson Company, the company where he is regional president, currently has two major developments in areas with large Latino populations: Santa Fe Walk, in Vista, and Paradise Walk, in National City.

Pauker’s expertise in land acquisition through construction and sell-out made him the perfect candidate to become chair, said Mary McLleland, who’s part of the leadership of the Urban Land Institute.

“Tony has quite a background in developing moderate-rate housing. He really knows how to move these types of projects forward,” she said. “We need more moderate-rate housing. He understands the issues in our communities. Tony has a great ability to bring people together and get things done. He knows how to look at the big picture of our region.”

Pauker received his undergraduate degree in geography from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) with a specialization in business administration. He went on to earn a joint MBA and master’s in city planning from the University of Southern California (USC).

“The focus of the Urban Land Institute is to promote the discussion and dialogue of land use of all types. We focus on smart-growth because land is limited and the population is growing.

In the future, Pauker said that “all communities are going to have a lot more of landfill and redevelopment.

About his new position as board chair at the Urban Land Institute, Pauker said: “It’s a really exciting time for me. There’s so much going on in the San Diego-Tijuana region.”

For further information on The Urban Land Institute San Diego/Tijuana, visit www.sandiego.uli.org.

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