Carrie Tai is Manhattan Beach's new community development director. She officially assumed the role Wednesday, Dec. 18, replacing Jeffrey Gibson, retired community development director for Torrance. Gibson stepped in as interim in August after Anne McIntosh left Manhattan Beach to work for Rancho Cucamonga.
Tai hails from the Port of Long Beach, where she served as the manager of master planning. There, she advanced the first comprehensive update in 30 years of the city's Port Master Plan.
The Orange County resident has Manhattan Beach ties: She and her life partner own a rental home in the city, where they plan to move during Tai's transition. And she can't wait to do so, Tai said.
Tai looks forward to returning to a small beach community, she said, especially excited to walk and bike to work.
"To be part of an intimate, beautiful coastal community where the residents are protective of the residential character is pretty important to me because the city government works in partnership with the community to achieve the community vision," Tai said. "There are very different goals the community has, but part of the importance of supporting this body is to provide our decision makers with all the information and tools they need to represent the community," she added.
She said the move is serendipitous and special.
Considering "the amazing opportunity to be the director of community development, the fact that we had a personal connection to Manhattan Beach and have spent a considerable amount of time here, I went for it," Tai said.
"Being able to work here in a formal capacity is super exciting to me," Tai said. "Working and living in a place like Manhattan Beach, there's always a bit of your brain on vacation mindset," she added. Having built much of her career in coastal communities, she said, there's just a peace that comes over you.
Tai has navigated a range of community types, having also worked in planning in New York City and Los Banos. Before the Port of Long Beach, Tai served as Long Beach’s planning officer and zoning administrator, a senior planner for Lake Forest and planner for San Clemente.
The new director has also worked in client services and debt capital markets at Lehman Brothers Holdings, a former global financial services firm.
Tai has been a panelist with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), on climate change and career development at Association of Environmental Professionals and American Planning Association conferences. She is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.
The Boston native earned her dual bachelor’s degree in urban studies and music, as well as a master's in urban planning at Hunter College of the City University of New York.