It has been said that we will understand people better, reguardless of their age or experience, if we imagine them as if they were children. The theory is that most of us never really grow up, we simply grow taller.
Then there’s Jim Holloway. The image presented by San Clemente’s calm and unassuming Community Development Director offers little insight into his life as a younger man. My own initial impression leaned more toward Boy Scout than surfer dude/ski-bum.
“I was born in Los Angeles, but I have a long history in San Clemente,” he begins. “My grandparents had a house on Beach Road back in the ‘50s. I was literally counting down the days until I would be 16 and able to drive down on my own. Then they went and sold it right before my birthday. I think they probably knew I’d be down there a lot."
But Jim came anyway. In 1968, fresh out of high school, Holloway won the coveted job of San Clemente City Lifeguard. He also enrolled at UC Santa Barbara, where he managed a degree in Political Theory in between surfing and ski trips.
Now the beach was fine in the summer, but come wintertime, he was a full-fledged ski-bum. His days were spent chasing white rivers of fresh powder at resorts across the west, and his nights were spent sleeping in the back of his van.
“After I graduated, I traveled to Tahoe then all through Idaho and Colorado. I even rode a snowmobile in Yellowstone back at a time when there were only four people out at Old Faithful,” he recalled.“I took my oldest daughter there 20 years later and there were over 400 there.”
Jim realized after a couple of seasons that he needed get on with his life and enrolled at San Diego State University, where he earned his Masters in Economics. In 1997 he took his first ‘real’ job as an Economic Consultant for the city of Visailia in Central California. He was there for 2 1/2 years. But his goal was to have a professional job at a nice ski resort. (Something I assume with better accommodations than his van.) After sending out scores of resumés, he was offered a job with the developing community of Steamboat Springs, high in the mountains of Colorado. At the start, he actually was the Planning Department, but after building up a staff, Holloway assumed the role of Community Development Director (CDD).
Then one day in 1987 he gets a call from San Clemente’s then City Manager Jim Hendrickson about the CDD position opening up in San Clemente. He took it and at 38 years old, he made it back to the same place he wanted to be since he was 15.
I asked Jim about a few of the many projects he has been involved with over the last 17 years. (He wanted to make sure it was understood that all his projects are “collaborative” projects.)
“Around 1990 we changed the zoning code to allow outdoor restaurants in the downtown area. I think that helped start the renaissance of the area. Today the downtown area has become the envy of community development planners around the state. And now we have expanded what we consider the downtown area further north and south along El Camino Real and North Beach.”
The Regional Circulation Financing and Phasing Program: (RCFPP)
“Despite complaints of more traffic in San Clemente this project, which is almost complete, has had a tremendously positive impact. It was a way to organize the developers planning, financing and implementing of the major arterials east of the 5 Freeway.”
The Coastal Trail:
“What is so gratifying is that there are so many people involved. So much work by unpaid citizen volunteers like John Dorey and Kathryn Stovall-Dennis, and organizations from Surfrider Foundation to the Orange County Transportation Authority.
By next fall, there should be a coastal trail along the tracks that will allow for safe passage from North Beach to the Pier even at high tide.”
“Dirt will fly. It may not look good during some of the construction phases, but when the Marblehead Coastal Property is finished it is going to be a true source of pride for San Clemente. We’re all going to be very happy.”