Vince Hoenigman, M.U.R.P. ’94, Sees the Opportunity in Every Problem

“It’s a plus and a minus always seeing problems,” says Vince Hoenigman. “It’s helped me in my career because I could anticipate the problems we were going to run into and head them off. But it doesn’t exactly make you zen or comfortable in life because you’re always seeing problems.”

Hoenigman has made it his life’s work to make things work. Early in his career, he founded Ibis Consulting, a technical consulting firm Proxicom later acquired. Since then, he’s established Citymark Development, a residential real estate development company that has built over 1,500 homes in the greater San Diego area. He’s also on the board of several nonprofit organizations, including the National Parks Conservation Association, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), and the St. Anthony Foundation.

The challenges he tackles are as varied as his approaches to solving them.

“Right now, my backyard is full of flowers and edible plants for landscaping a youth homeless shelter. We want to bring joy and beauty to the lives of the kids. Currently, their front yard is run down — like the streets they’ve just come off of. I think things should work well. To the extent that I can have an impact, I do what I can,” he explains. “If I had to look at what unites everything I’ve done in my career, it’s that I like fixing things.”

Hoenigman’s recent appointment by Governor Gavin Newsom to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) gives him a new set of challenges to tackle. The agency, which serves as the planning department for the bi-state basin of Lake Tahoe, is charged with restoring and protecting the area. The agency has already done meaningful work, and Hoenigman looks forward to contributing.

“I get energized by this thought of being able to help restore the lake and revitalize our communities. The communities in Tahoe were built in the sixties, after the Olympics, when planning and architecture were not at their peak. To revitalize those communities and help the people and the lake is an interesting challenge.”

The work presents many opportunities for creative thinking, including balancing the input of board members and constituents from California and Nevada, two very different systems and cultures. Hoenigman sees it as a puzzle and relishes the opportunity to use the best of both worlds and make change in Tahoe happen, even if he won’t see the full effect of his work in his lifetime.

“It’s going to take decades,” he says. “Community members are worried and imagine that everything will change in a couple of years. I tell people we will be dead before this is done. Progress in redevelopment is gradual. But I like the idea of leaving it better for the next generation.”