Just a month into the job, Tina Friend has hit the ground running as the new Coronado City Manager. Growing up in an Army family, she is no stranger to moving and military life. She was born in Huntsville, Alabama, spent time in Germany and then moved every couple of years throughout her childhood. She credits that for helping make her independent and giving her great resilience and perspective, having experienced a variety of settings, and interacting with people from all walks of life.
“I have already found the community warm and welcoming, with a real desire to get to know their city manager,” comments Tina. She notes that this speaks to the awareness of city government that residents here have, which isn’t the case in every area. “I am still discovering how the different organizations layer together and learning the landscape on the issues,” she highlights as one of her first priorities. “I can’t be effective if I don’t know how a city and its people work.”
Other front burner projects include the Coronado Cays Park Rehabilitation Master Plan, which was interrupted by the pandemic and has now come back with additional feedback from the community, in part garnered by the residents’ outdoor experiences over the past 18 months. The Golf Course Modernization project, which includes construction of a satellite water treatment facility to produce recycled irrigation water, as well as a turf maintenance facility is also in the works.
This is just for starters, while maintaining great operations and hiring three new directors, which she said should be soon, and tackling an extensive list of pending projects. She is pleased that Coronado can attract the best candidates for key leadership positions. There are many parallels with her prior job as city manager of Scotts Valley, and previously as assistant city manager of Santa Cruz. She is familiar with Coastal Commission regulatory issues and has insight on the balance between residents and tourism, along with affordable housing issues. She brings a wide array of experience having served on multiple local and regional commissions and boards in many arenas.
When asked about the effects on our community with a recent news report statistic that the percentage of renters in Coronado at 51% has surpassed that of homeowners, she noted that it depends on how you look at it. “A community needs people year round, because they are the heart of the city. I have lived on streets where there were not always full-time neighbors and it’s not the best scenario. Using houses as an economic engine is not always the best policy.”
She stressed that city and resident communication is critical. “I have found that Coronado has exemplary tools, especially for a city this size.” These include the City Manager’s Weekly Update video and email, Comment Coronado, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Nixle. She reiterated that it’s important to reach people where they are at, and listen to feedback.
The inflated Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers as dictated by SANDAG are certainly a hot topic in town. She agrees that it is a lopsided calculation and notes that it is important to take the overlapping jurisdictions of the Navy, Port, and Coastal Commission into account and consider the geographic constraints. “I’m impressed that the city came up with a tentative plan, while trying to have reason prevail,” she commented about this ongoing issue.
With back to back meetings to get acquainted with the people and organizations in town, she currently doesn’t have much free time, but one of her hobbies outside of work is running. She brings her running clothes to work, in case she has a break to get outside and enjoy the beach air. Books are also a passion, with her all-time favorite as “Pride and Prejudice,” but a recent read of interest was “The Martian.” She was also given “Empire Builder” in a welcome basket and plans to start it when she has a free moment.
Tina also loves spending time with family, but her husband Zach and son Elliott haven’t yet moved here as Zach looks for work in the area. An author and public policy expert, he is currently a Second District Supervisor for Santa Clara County; but he grew up in San Diego as an avid Padres fan. Tina is thrilled to be close to his family here, citing that one of the things the pandemic taught them was the importance of family.