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You know the kind of person that when you first meet him/her you immediately want to befriend?  One that has a contagious smile and positive disposition?  If you’ve ever met our Consulting Resources Group – Director of Planning Studies, you know this exact type!  Steffen Turoff, AICP, fits all these categories.  You can’t help but want to get to know more about him; check out some of his story in this month’s Walker Headlights.

Q: What’s something many people don’t know about you?

A: That I don’t like to answer questions about myself.  Hmm . . . maybe that a job in television production for Japanese shows is what brought me to Los Angeles?  I was an Assistant Director (or at least that was my title) on several prime time programs at a very young age.

Q: How many languages do you speak?  Which ones?

A: I lived in Japan and worked many years for Japanese companies in L.A., but my Japanese is a little rusty.  Living in California, I’ve learned a lot of Spanish and picked up a little Korean and Chinese.  Any place I’ve lived/worked where a lot of a different language is spoken, I’ve tried to pick up at least a few words.  Also- as my kids have begun to learn to spell, my pig Latin has also gotten better to speak to my wife about where I’ve hidden dessert at home.

Q: You had the pleasure of being mentored by parking legend Donald Shoup (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs).  What was the greatest piece of advice he’s given you?

A: He was a very smart and kind professor, and since I graduated, he has always been very happy to provide answers and resources. I learned many things from him but overall I have learned from his sincere efforts and desire to help to make things better for people. I will add that I learned from him the importance of questioning the way that things have “always been done” and the importance of communicating complex issues as simply as possible.

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

A: Besides Los Angeles?  Culver City.  Because it’s surrounded on 3 ½ sides by L.A.

Q: What is your favorite movie?

A: At the time I saw it, probably Rocky, when I was a kid.

Q: What is your favorite part of living in California?

A: Unfortunately, I think one really starts to take things for granted, but if I stopped doing so, I’d say the weather.  Besides the weather, Los Angeles is an interesting place to live.

Q: What’s the most unique client you’ve worked with/for thus far at Walker?

A: This is one of the best parts about the job.  All the interesting and unique clients.  The most unique?  I don’t think I can share that, as it was a very secretive organization.

Q: What are some of your guilty pleasures?

A: Sometimes I take thirty minutes for lunch.

Q: What is your best memory at Walker to date?

A: Probably laughing it up at the end of the day in the office with Rio Lupisan the first few months after we began at Walker.  That said, the day I started he said that, as my “senior”, he and the other guys would have to put me through an initiation.  Keep in mind he only started six days before I did.

Q: What’s the most interesting part of being the Director of Planning Studies?

A: A former colleague once told me, “Every traffic study is the same, but every parking study is different.”  People I work with (and probably clients) are tired of hearing me say that!  But the variety of projects is very interesting.  And there really is some story behind each one, a community’s story, a business’ story, personal stories, and for a study to be successful, it often has to acknowledge if not address the underlying “story” behind a job.

Q: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?

A: I think rural Japan.  It’s a great place to travel.  Any place in Japan, city or country, I’d recommend.

Q: What would we find you doing on a typical Saturday night?

A: Asleep on the couch, in my clothes, exhausted from trying to put my kids to bed, who would likely still be jumping on their beds.

Q: What’s your favorite piece of literature?

A: The last report I reviewed.  That’s the only one I can remember.

Q: You’re a UCLA Bruin (grad school) and a Cal Golden Bear (undergrad).  If both rumbled in the forest, which would come out on top?

A: l love them both.  I spent more time at Cal, and more formative years at Cal, so that’s what I’d have to answer – the Golden Bear.



Steffen’s always been a star: (above) in 1993 with a famous Japanese actor, cruisin’ in and parkin’ (VIP-style) a Rolls-Royce Corniche!

Now that you’ve read this and you, too, want to be his pal, say hi to Steffen!

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