City Moves Toward Permanent Accessory Dwelling Ordinance

The city is working on a permanent ordinance to levy rules on accessory dwelling units (such as guest houses) in San Marino after enacting an urgency ordinance to extend the interim one passed in December.
The new regulations are in response to mandates passed by the state legislature. Both the state assembly and state senate voted last year to restrict how municipal and county governments can regulate accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.
“Recognizing the importance of ADUs in addressing California’s severe housing crisis, these amendments help reduce development barriers and expand potential capacity to build ADUs,” Mayor Dr. Richard Sun explained in an emailed statement. Continue reading “City Moves Toward Permanent Accessory Dwelling Ordinance”

Design Review Delays Two Hearings

25Hearings for two proposed homes on Lorain Road were continued until the next Design Review Committee meeting because of missed public-notice deadlines.
Hearings for the proposed homes at 2151 and 2159 Lorain Road were moved to the Feb. 1 DRC meeting because neither property had story poles installed with sufficient notice before the Jan. 18 meeting. The city requires story poles be installed at least 10 days before public hearings are held for the project.
Much of the City Council chambers were filled with residents in that neighborhood hoping to speak on the two projects, but the continuation did not seem to disappoint them. Continue reading “Design Review Delays Two Hearings”

City to Modify Old Mill Funding Friday

The City Council will discuss adding more than $10,000 for the improvement of the Old Mill at its Friday morning meeting.
The additional money will help the Old Mill complete its current projects, which have already installed new kitchen cabinetry, appliances and a renovated shower stall. Remaining are two new ramadas (roofed open-air structures) and a new trash enclosure.
The Old Mill Foundation started off with $52,000 for all of the improvements. The projects that have been completed so far have totaled $29,069, leaving $22,931 for those remaining. However, the lowest bid on the three items was $38,280, leaving a gap of more than $15,000. Continue reading “City to Modify Old Mill Funding Friday”

Budget Review Rescheduled for Feb. 8

The City Council’s annual mid-year budget review has been rescheduled for its February regular meeting.
The review had originally been scheduled for the Jan. 27 study session, which takes place on the last Friday morning of each month. Now, the review will be at the Feb. 8 meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.
The mid-year review allows the City Council to discuss and make any fiscal changes to the current fiscal cycle to ensure the city’s budget breaks even and typically precedes the planning of next year’s budget.
Interim City Manager Cindy Collins said she expects two significant changes in this review. The Fire Department’s budget will need additional money for overtime and City Hall will need more money because one position was contracted out this year to replace an employee who has been on an extended leave.
Collins did not specify a reason for the meeting change.

New Lights Brighten Up SMUSD Schools

Some of San Marino’s students returned to school last week with a brighter future greeting them.
That’s because Valentine Elementary and Huntington Middle schools are now lit entirely by light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs that were installed during the holiday break, thanks to state grants.
Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss said in a telephone interview that San Marino Unified School District is using around $500,000 in state money for the utility upgrade. Carver Elementary and San Marino High schools will install the new bulbs during spring break. Continue reading “New Lights Brighten Up SMUSD Schools”

Search Starts for New City Manager

The City Council voted to release requests for a proposal last week for professional executive recruiting firms, formally beginning its search to hire a permanent city manager.
Requests for proposal, or RFPs, invite companies to submit proposed prices for specific jobs based on parameters set by the government agency. Cindy Collins, who has served as the interim city manager since John Schaefer retired in June, will not seek the job permanently.
Collins told the City Council at the Jan. 11 meeting that she expected to bring a recommended firm for its approval at the Feb. 24 study session. Once a firm is selected, it would begin its search for candidates to have the city interview.
Collins said when all was said and done, she expected a candidate to be hired around June. Continue reading “Search Starts for New City Manager”

New City Club President Kicks Off ’17 With Retreat

Photo courtesy Kristen Van Driel San Marino City Club past presidents include (from left) Pete Loeffler (2012), John Morris (2005), Bill Gunnell (2007), Frank Chen (2016), Dan Biles (2015), Janice Lee-McMahon (2011), Wally Rosvall (2003), David Wang (current), Mort Mortimer (2006), Tom Santley (2004), Dick Ward (1989), Al Boegh (2010), Fritz Seares (1999) and Ken Riley (1995).
Photo courtesy Kristen Van Driel
San Marino City Club past presidents include (from left) Pete Loeffler (2012), John Morris (2005), Bill Gunnell (2007), Frank Chen (2016), Dan Biles (2015), Janice Lee-McMahon (2011), Wally Rosvall (2003), David Wang (current), Mort Mortimer (2006), Tom Santley (2004), Dick Ward (1989), Al Boegh (2010), Fritz Seares (1999) and Ken Riley (1995).

The conclusion of a successful board retreat for San Marino City Club helped to set the tone for David Wang’s first year as president of the organization.
The annual retreat, which is held in Palm Springs, brings together the 14 members of SMCC’s board and also past presidents and their spouses. Wang said the retreat this year included a “fairly large cross section” of the latter, especially at the strategic planning meeting.
“It’s a good way to indoctrinate the new board members,” he said in a telephone interview. “This year, it was extremely well attended. We had more past presidents there this year than in recent years.”
That insight proved valuable, Wang said, as he prepares for his year as president. Continue reading “New City Club President Kicks Off ’17 With Retreat”

City Council OKs New Home

Dr. Richard Sun’s first big decision as this year’s mayor came in the form of a contentious tie-breaking vote at the City Council’s first meeting of 2017.
Sun’s vote to deny a petition to classify the home at 1470 Virginia Road as a historical landmark appears to have put to rest a public battle over the residence that has waged since July.
In casting his vote at the Jan. 11 meeting, the preservation-minded Sun also acknowledged that the public outcry for a stronger historical designation process was as loud as it’s been in recent memory and the city needed to enact changes as soon as possible. Continue reading “City Council OKs New Home”

City Budget Remains in Spotlight Amid New Faces

The city will continue to have all eyes on its financial books as it approaches its annual mid-year review of the annual budget in January.
It is a theme that has persisted throughout 2016.
Perhaps the most visible example was cemented by the oft-contentious discussion and adoption of the fiscal year 2016-17 budget in June, which involved a continuing impasse with the Fire Department on overtime and included disagreements over a possible position upgrade within City Hall that, at a glance, appeared inconsequential in the context of the city’s $26.55 million budget. Continue reading “City Budget Remains in Spotlight Amid New Faces”

Barger Sees New Role as Her Calling

Photo courtesy Kathryn Barger San Marino resident Kathryn Barger speaks Dec. 5 after being inaugurated as Los Angeles County supervisor for the 5th District. Seated on the left is her brother, John Barger, alongside her husband, Eric Leibrich.
Photo courtesy Kathryn Barger
San Marino resident Kathryn Barger speaks Dec. 5 after being inaugurated as Los Angeles County supervisor for the 5th District. Seated on the left is her brother, John Barger, alongside her husband, Eric Leibrich.

In a telephone interview ahead of Christmas weekend, Kathryn Barger admitted she did not expect a series of meetings to fill her schedule on either side of the holiday.
That was fine, she conceded. She was, after all, sworn in earlier this month as the supervisor of Los Angeles County’s largest of five districts. She still had transition work to do, even after spending the better part of the last 28 years working for her now-predecessor, Mike Antonovich. Continue reading “Barger Sees New Role as Her Calling”