Council candidates talk about housing, the environment and more
Housing issues emerged as a primary concern at the Community and Applicants Forum this week, as residents questioned affordable housing, homelessness and the Villages of the Alhambra development project.
Mayor David Mejia, outgoing member of the municipal council of the fourth district, said that the issue of homelessness is “very important for [him]”Because it is not only a question of the Alhambra, but also of a regional and state issue. The city should seek funding, grants and urban development for housing and urban development. “Everyone should have a place to stay,” he said.
Chris Olson, the challenger in the council’s third district race, has been most articulate about additional services to combat homelessness; supportive housing that offers on-site services such as addiction counseling to help the “most vulnerable”.
The villages of the Alhambra have yet to be submitted to city council for approval, so Mejia and Jeff Maloney, the holder of the third district, said they could not take a position on the development itself.
However, when reviewing any large housing development, Maloney said he wanted the development to have enough affordable housing, at least in accordance with the city’s recently passed inclusive housing ordinance as well as “The attenuation of traffic, the ability to walk and that any new development contributes to open space, without taking away from it.”
Mejia said her biggest concerns were traffic and green spaces. Mejia cited the Affordable Housing and Development Applicability Ordinance. “We can negotiate to get what we want,” he said.
Olson and Sasha Renée Pérez, who challenges Mejia, said they oppose The Villages for a variety of reasons, including the lack of affordable housing and the impact on traffic.
Environmental issues were also at the center of the discussions with questions about the lack of parks, sustainability and preservation of the environment.
Pérez said the city should create “pocket parks”, especially in areas with high tenant density. She said she also wants to continue on designated bike lanes to get people out of their cars and has a climate action plan. And she suggested a composting program for those who have started growing their own vegetables and reducing their waste.
Olson agreed the composting would be “fantastic” and suggested other eco-friendly activities for the community, such as a city-wide recycling event.
Olson, former president of the Alhambra Preservation Group, was particularly animated by the subject of historic preservation, saying that a preservation ordinance is “not to stop change” but to celebrate the history of city through its built environment. She called on the city to create dedicated staff and designate historic neighborhoods.
The City Council Candidates Forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters, moderated by former Alhambra teacher Bonnie Skolnick. The Alhambra Latino Association, Alhambra Preservation Group, Alhambra Source and VISA Boosters co-hosted the event during a Zoom webinar that drew 365 attendees.
The League of Women Voters chose from nearly 160 submitted questions and chose to address residents ‘concerns about policing and public safety, transportation, tax planning, and municipal services, as well as the candidates’ stance on issues. voting measures.
Candidates run for municipal council seats for a four-year term. Although they represent districts, candidates are elected in general, which means that voters across the city decide on the representation of the district.
Although primarily about the candidates’ positions on the issues, Mejia and Pérez took the opportunity to criticize themselves, with Mejia highlighting his experience and Pérez highlighting his support system.
All of the candidates supported updating public transportation with a focus on eco-friendly options like cycling and walking, a historic preservation ordinance, and agreed that local businesses will need help getting around recover from economic depression.
Another challenger from the Fourth District, Karsen Luthi, a retired public servant and businessman, was not there but made an opening statement focused on revitalizing small businesses, saying he has the most experience. with the Alhambra small business community, ending with: “Choose wisely, Alhambra. “
This article will be updated with a link to the saved event when it becomes available.
The Board of Education, Children and Candidates forum is Thursday, October 8. RSVP here.