Chen Focuses on City Character, Crime

Hai-Sou Chen
Hai-Sou Chen

Well on his way to living in San Marino for four decades, Dr. Hai-Sou Chen said he wants the city to adapt to the changes he’s seen in that time.
A longtime dentist running for a seat on the at-large City Council, Chen said those changes are largely represented by the tearing down of original homes for newer ones and the increasing amount of residential burglaries per year.
“It’s really a legacy for the city,” Chen said. “Architecture is hard to recover. The newcomers often have a different idea than (longtime) residents and the material now is totally different.”
Chen is one of seven candidates for the three open spots on the five-member City Council. The election will be held Nov. 7.
Having previously spent five years on the city’s Design Review Committee, Chen said he’d like to keep the same general style and other guidelines in place if elected to City Council. He wants to maintain a city character that is defined by ornate but not gaudy homes and well-manicured foliage.
In addition to maintaining the city’s charm, Chen said he believes this would have the added benefit of helping fund city operations.
“The city budget depends on property taxes,” he said. “The strong housing prices help that.”
A native of Taiwan, Chen said he also believes the city could do more outreach to recent immigrants who aren’t as familiar with the city’s aesthetic and culture. To mitigate the language barrier, Chen said that if he is elected, he will advocate for volunteers at City Hall to help those residents with planning and design procedures, among other areas.
“Open dialogue is so important,” he said. “This could save the applicant time and money and the efficiency of approval can increase.”
Chen also is concerned about crime, specifically the burglaries that threaten the affluent community. He has said he would be a friend to the city’s police department. He hopes to address the fact there are 56 entrances to the city and, as the population has increased in the San Gabriel Valley, streets like Huntington Drive have become much busier.
Chen also pledges to work to bring the City Council and San Marino Unified School District closer in spirit and practice, pointing out many residents pick the city because of its high-performing schools.
“They are two components of the system and they have to coordinate well so we can share resources,” he said.
Chen said life has been a bit different for him since he threw his name in the hat, even as involved as he has been in city organizations. He said he’s been soliciting advice from former city officials while meeting as many people as he can.
“I think that’s a good change for me,” he said. “Face-to-face, talking with the citizens, I can better understand what they want.”
This is the first of seven profiles for each of the seven candidates in the City Council election on Nov. 7. Profiles will run weekly in alphabetical order.

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