• Proposed Alhambra Project Stirs Discussion

    by Winston Chua

    ALHAMBRA – Two issues face the Alhambra Planning CommissionMonday night, when they are likely to decide the fate of a 51-unit developmentproject by Frank Liu. One is moral; the other is social.

    Liu and former Alhambra Mayor John Parker Williams wereconvicted of bribery in 2007, which is part of the reason why current MayorSteven J. Placido said, “He’s been convicted of bribery, but he’s paid his debtto society. He’s someone you probably wouldn’t trust.”

    Placido was quick to point out, however, that ruling againstthe developer would be illegal and cautioned that disapproving a legitimateproject on character issues alone would put the City on the wrong side of alawsuit that it would likely lose.

    “By law the government can’t judge a project by the moralsof a developer, in this case. As a matter of law, we can’t look at thecharacter of the person,” the Mayor said.

    Althoughthere may be misdirected public outcry this Monday, Councilman Gary Yamauchisaid, “It’s not up to us to control this project by our thoughts or emotions.It’s basically by law.”

    Liu’sproject, according to reports, would center on Monterey Road and WoodwardAvenue. The concerns his project would have to address are whether or hisproposed residential development can comply with City standards, which havebecome more strict over the years. The entitlements he received after he firstreceived approval years ago cannot be redeemed because codes have changed.Where five to 10 variances may have been applied for and approved, that numberis greatly reduced, even for senior living residences.

    The question then becomes not whether he is able to buildsomething, but how sturdy his construction will be, and if he will modify hisplans in accordance with the City’s statutes.

    It was reported that Liu sent $25,000 to former CouncilmanDan Arguello for the same project’s approval in 2007. There has been much rumorand speculation as to how or why things turned out the way they back then,

    Shouldthe Commission approve the project on Monday, the City Council need notentertain any further discourse on the matter; but any Councilperson is atliberty to bring the issue to the Council at a later time. The planners canalso appeal a negative decision before the Council as well.

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