By Katta Hules
The Arcadia City Council made three appointments to the board of directors of the Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association (AIA). At their last meeting, Council Member Sho Tay stepped down as the city’s representative on the board.
Tay did so because Mayor Pro Tem Peter Amundson and Council Member April Verlato, who is the AIA’s Chair, were on the board prior to their election. “I should step down so we don’t create a problem,” said Tay at the May 3 meeting. In his place, Jason Kruckeberg, assistant city manager and development services director, the City’s Economic Development Analyst Tim Schwehr, and Amundson will represent the city in the AIA.
Both Kruckeberg and Amundson (who was not a council member at the time) were appointed to board in November along with Tay. Verlato is the chair of the AIA board. Amundson said that both Kruckeberg and Schwehr had expertise the AIA could use and would “serve to help guide this fledgling organization.”
Property owners in downtown are entitled to the same number of representatives on the board as parcels of property he or she owns. Since the city owns several properties it is allowed multiple representatives on the board. The council was allowed to appoint up to three to fill Tay’s seat.
While having Tay, Verlato, and Amundson on the board is not a violation of the Brown Act, it could “create a challenging situation for decision making on items that may eventually come before the city council,” according to the city staff report on the appointments.
The Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association was founded in 2012 as a Community Benefit District to promote and improve the downtown area, according to the city’s website. Community Benefit Districts (CBD) “strive to improve the overall quality of life in targeted commercial districts and mixed-use neighborhoods through a partnership between the city and local communities,” says San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). San Francisco is a pioneer in this field and currently has fourteen CBDs.
Also known as Business Improvement Districts, such areas are “levied a special assessment to fund improvements to their neighborhood,” according to the OEWD site. The funds are then distributed by a non-profit neighborhood organization.
The AIA’s “primary goal [is] the facilitation of a more active and pedestrian-friendly downtown,” according to the city’s website. The group’s interests include attracting and retaining businesses, beautification, improving parking and pedestrian amenities, as well as leveraging the Gold Line to bring in more customers. It runs the Street Fair on Saturdays and has staged several other events in the past including a Holiday Market and a Patriotic Concert last year.
In keeping with this, the AIA is sponsoring the Patriotic Festival in July. The board asked the council for direction on the matter. Specifically, the group is looking to possibly close some streets for the Festival and asked the council for advice and financial aid in covering the costs. After some discussion with Police Chief Bob Guthrie, the council agreed to budget five thousand dollars for covering police presence and public works for the event. The AIA is tentatively planning to close Santa Clara Street and hold the Festival at the Arcadia Transit Plaza but city staff will make the final decision about street closures.
The meeting was short but had a few other notable events. First, Mayor Tom Beck organized a subcommittee of the council to monitor the city’s litigation fees. The “sole motive is to try and save money,” he said. The subcommittee, which will meet once a month, consists of Beck, Tay and Verlato, the three lawyers on the council.
Also notable was Verlato’s comment during her council member report that the planning commission denied the appeals of two massage therapists whose business licenses were revoked due to “questionable” practices. She warned the city was cracking down on such businesses.
Lastly, City Clerk Gene Glasco reminded the council his Vietnam War Memorial would be having its dedication on Saturday May 28. Glasco, a Vietnam veteran, organized the project mostly by himself and promised all kinds of celebrations at the dedication including a flyover by a UH-1 “Huey” helicopter. The event will start at 11:30 a.m. in the Arcadia Regional Community Park.
The next city council meeting will be on Tuesday, June 7, at 7 p.m. The Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association’s Patriotic Festival is scheduled for Saturday, July 2, at 6 p.m. and its Street Fair takes place on Saturday along First Avenue, north of Huntington Drive, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.