David Jinkens is returning to sunny Catalina.
The former Manteca city manager from the late 1980s to the late 1990s has come out of retirement to accept the job of Avalon city manager. Avalon is the only incorporated city on 176-square-mile Santa Catalina Island and is the southernmost city in Los Angeles County. It consists of just under 4,000 people and is 22 miles off the California coast. Jinkens worked there for 18 months in the 1980s.
Jinkens served as city manager in Elk Grove after Manteca and then did an eight-year stint as South Lake Tahoe city manager until retiring in 2010.
Jinkens’ most high-profile endeavor in Manteca was the creation of the Tidewater Bikeway more than two decades ago.
Where others saw weed-infested abandoned railroad right-of-way or envisioned turning it onto an “expressway” to help move traffic around downtown, Jinkens say it as a way of tying neighborhoods together and providing a functional bike path system that people could use to actually travel to places they needed or wanted to go such as parks, downtown, the library, shopping, and restaurants.
The right-of-way —owned at the time by Union Pacific Railroad — was a remnant of the old Tidewater Southern Railway that once went from Stockton to Turlock.
There was opposition at the time — mostly from homeowners that backed up to the right-of-way that had become invested with weeds and a dumping ground for garbage and abandoned cars as well as being a locale periodically for the homeless and drug users — and turned it into one of Manteca’s heaviest used “passive parks” given there are no organized endeavors such as ball games and soccer matches.
The city has made the Tidewater the backbone of what ultimately will be at least 20 plus miles of “main” bike paths looping the city with spurs to various places including those already in place such as Woodward Park and Spreckels Park.
Ultimately the separated bike path system will extend into Ripon.
Current City Manager Karen McLaughlin, who was an administrative assistant that worked with Jinkens to make the Tidewater a reality, noted then Mayor Carlon Perry was astute enough to recognize the need for traffic signals on the Tidewater at Center Street, Louise Avenue and Lathrop Road. Perry led the charge to convince the council to fund the traffic signals using bonus bucks collected from developers in exchange for sewer allocation certainty for new homes.
Jinkens was far from a one-hit wonder. He helped create the framework of the redevelopment agency and private sector partnership that made Spreckels Park rise from the shuttered sugar refinery, oversaw an expansion and update of the wastewater treatment plant, and expansion of the municipal park system among other endeavors.
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