Mayor’s 2020 Priorities: Traffic, Properties, Trees

Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey addresses local residents during her State of the City presentation at the Town Hall meeting at Crowell Public Library this week.

At this week’s Town Hall meeting, Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey highlighted three bottom-line goals that represented her vision for this year, in addition to showcasing individual departmental goals for her tenure.
If she has her druthers, Shepherd Romey, in her first crack at the City Council’s mayoral post, would like to improve traffic and pedestrian safety through the city’s neighborhoods, better manage vacant residential and commercial properties and strengthen tree preservation and maintenance through educational outreach programming.
Lacy Park seems to have a lot of Shepherd Romey’s attention in 2020. The council plans to oversee reconstruction of the park’s rose arbor this year. The mayor said she would like to begin developing a master plan for the park, and she has publicly discussed adding more and larger trees to the park and throughout the city. One of her goals this year, she detailed in the State of the City briefing on Monday evening, is to create a financial incentive program for the planting of heritage trees in front yards.
“I know people are there every day,” Shepherd Romey said of Lacy Park. “I’m there every week a couple of times, and I think that it’s a really great thing we have in our city.”
Shepherd Romey — a San Marino Garden Club stalwart and longtime Huntington Library volunteer — has embraced her reputation for ecological advocacy and emphasized her wish for residents to be on the same page when it comes to tree care. The city has in the past levied hefty fines for improper tree removal and trimming, and it would obviously prefer to avoid that altogether, the mayor said.
“This is not something that we want to give homeowners fines for,” Shepherd Romey said. “We really don’t, but you need to go through certain steps so that we can ensure the tree is ill or it’s dangerous or it’s damaging property.”
Regarding vacant properties, the Planning and Building Department is working with a committee to develop incentives for businesses to pick San Marino or for commercial property owners to lease out their space. For residential areas, Shepherd Romey said she plans to support the Police Department as it works with neighborhood watch groups that will, among other tasks, keep an eye on vulnerable vacant properties.
As for Parks and Public Works Department activity, the mayor detailed plans for the city to continue with further street rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement. She added the City Council will this year evaluate and act on traffic studies, speed studies and details regarding the L.A. Metro-funded improvement projects along Huntington Drive. Shepherd Romey said the city also will explore traffic calming measures to reduce motorist speeds in neighborhoods, including speed tables and elevated crosswalks.
The city also plans to act on the results of a historic-resource survey, which kicked off last year and is continuing. Shepherd Romey added that the firm conducting the survey relies heavily on information from residents and encouraged locals to contact surveyors about anything they might know about their homes or neighborhoods.
“Not all of it will pan out, necessarily,” the mayor said, explaining that some homes won’t be designated historic, “but it will be listed on the survey, because someone might be interested in that information in the future.”
Video of the Town Hall and a copy of the slide show presented at the event can be viewed on the city’s website at cityofsanmarino.org.

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