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The Man Who Makes Sure Santa Monica Works

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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jorge Casuso

July 25, 2013 -- It’s fair to say that much of what you see in Santa Monica, and much that you don’t, is under the purview of Martin Pastucha.

From the roads you drive on, to the trees that line those roads and the sewers buried underneath, it is the Director of Public Works’ job to make sure the branches are trimmed, the roads smooth and the water flowing.

“We are responsible for the maintenance and operations of the infrastructure of the city,” says Pastucha, who took over the City’s largest department two years ago. “Things both above ground and below ground.”

In charge of overseeing what is built with public funds, Pastucha manages many of the projects that will dramatically change the way motorists get in and out of Santa Monica -- from the Colorado Esplanade flanking the Expo Light Rail station to the California Incline, from the Pier bridge to the replacement of Public Parking Structure 6.

In addition, Pastucha oversees the urban forest, which was recently switched to Public Works from Community and Cultural Services, Woodlawn Cemetery, the Municipal Airport and the Pier.

His department -- which has nearly 500 workers -- is also accountable for maintaining the Promenade, making sure that sidewalks are power–washed and that broken street fixtures are replaced or repaired.

Pastucha’s team is currently working with Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) to implement a pilot project to replace the light poles, news racks, directories and signs at the northern end of the Promenade, a project that could eventually be expanded to other parts of Downtown.

The secret to his success: “Very good division managers who are very sharp, very seasoned veterans who also know their business,” says Pastucha, who headed public works in Pasadena for eight years before coming to Santa Monica. “My job is to help them do their jobs.”

And what happens if the job doesn’t get done? “People won’t have water, and trash will start to build up,” Pastucha says. “We’re integral to the lives of the Santa Monica public. When we do our job, it goes pretty much unnoticed

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