Al Zelinka is passionate about towns and cities, and loves working with people to make places the best they can be – over the past 25 years as a practicing city planner and urban designer, he has faithfully upheld his original career objective: to “make a difference” in communities. Al is presently one of three Assistant City Managers for the City of Riverside, California, where he is responsible for public infrastructure and investment, including the departments of Community & Economic Development, Public Works and Innovation & Technology, as well as the Office of Communications. Al started his service to the City of Riverside in 2012 as its Director of Community Development.
In his view, working as a member of the City of Riverside team represents public service in the truest sense; each and every day, he is focused on advancing public interest, facilitating and pursuing change for public benefit, and keeping ethics front-and-center.
Among the many City Council-supported initiatives with which he is engaged:
- Grow Riverside: building a strong local food system by promoting local agriculture and maximizing locally sourced food.
- Streamline Riverside: reforming planning and development regulations and procedures to more efficiently facilitate placemaking investment without sacrificing quality outcomes in the built environment.
- Engage Riverside: advancing the public’s access to municipal information and expanding the spectrum of opportunities for the public to participate in-person and on-line in planning and decision-making processes.
- Riverside Reconnects: planning and implementing an increased range of options for residents, businesses and visitors to move within and around the City.
- Downtown Riverside: attracting and facilitating infill mixed use housing, cultural and entertainment attractions, hotel and visitor-serving features, unique food and retail settings, and public space enhancements.
In addition to his public service with the City of Riverside, Al has practiced planning and delivered presentations and training in more than 100 communities in 28 states (plus the District of Columbia), directed an estimated 150 projects and played an active role in another 50 (more than 35 of which have received awards). He is the co-author of SafeScape and Placemaking on a Budget. Al served as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA), is a former Big for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and is a Past President of the California Planning Roundtable. Al graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Planning from Northern Arizona University in 1989 and a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University in 1991. Most important to Al is his family and appreciates every moment he spends with his wife, son, and two fun mutts – as well as his parents and sisters.