Civic

710 N funds are go for Huntington Dr. school sites, intersection

San Marino City Council Member Susan Jakubowski (from left), Council Member Steve Talt, Mayor Dr. Steve Huang, Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey and Council Member Ken Ude listen to feedback from residents at the Crowell Public Library, July 26. Skye Hannah Photo

The San Marino City Council unanimously voted to continue reserving $8 million in Metro 710 N project funds for improvements to the Atlantic Boulevard/Huntington Drive/Los Robles Avenue/Garfield intersection with public input and voted 3-2 to move forward with considering $6 million in funding for Huntington Drive improvements specifically as it relates to school areas. The meeting was held July 26 at the Crowell Public Library.

The funds are part of $32 million reserved for San Marino of Measure R transportation sales tax funds, set for placeholder projects. Five projects were presented for consideration.

For Project 1 (intersection improvements to Huntington Drive, $12 million), the council rejected the project and funding for three of the four intersections ($4 million) and moved ahead with the fourth intersection, Atlantic Boulevard/Huntington Drive/Los Robles Avenue/Garfield Avenue, ($8 million). Council Member Steve Talt added an amendment that public input be included into the refinement of the proposals, which are set to come back from city staff in September.

For Project 2 (Huntington Drive improvements, $6 million), the council voted 3-2 to continue holding the funds specifically as they relate to school areas and have city staff return to the council with refined and clarified proposals in September.

Project 4 (Huntington Drive signal synchronization, $7 million) was rejected 3-1 at the July 10 meeting.

There were some initial confusion on the motions as city staff noted that there was a clash of motions from the July 10 meeting. At the time, the council voted 3-1 to direct city manager to direct Metro that the city was unwilling to accept any funds other than those that benefit projects around the schools on Huntington Drive. With the unanimous massing of Project 1’s motion on July 26, that July 10 motion was superseded.

When asked for further clarification by city staff on the motions, Vice Mayor Gretchen Shepherd Romey shared a sense of exasperation. She said the city was working to be open and transparent, and she was concerned the council was at risk of being “worn down” by additional clarity questions. She noted that the July 10 meeting was packed and residents “heard us loud and clear.”

“Every time, the public comes out, they spend their time, they spend their energy and then we’re left with ‘oh, but there’s still a question,’” said Shepherd Romey. “No, no, no. This has to stop.”

Council Member Steve Talt agreed with Shepherd Romey.

“What is clear we’re moving forward with taking a further look at Atlantic and we’re moving forward on looking at congestions around school sites,” said Talt. “That is clear. We’ve rejected everything else.”

In order to keep the record clean, City Attorney Stephanie Cao recommended the council motion to vacate the July 10 motion in regards to rejecting all funds except for school projects and move forward with the consideration of $8 million for Atlantic Boulevard/Huntington Drive/Los Robles Avenue/Garfield intersection with public input. Council Members Talt, Ken Ude and Susan Jakubowski voted in favor with Mayor Dr. Steven Huang and Vice Mayor Romey voted against.

The vacating of the July 10 motion left Project 3 (Sierra Madre Boulevard improvements, $4 million) and Project 5 (San Gabriel Boulevard signal synchronization, $3 million) with no approved motion from council, according to City Manager Dr. Marcella Marlowe.

In a letter by Huang sent to Metro Senior Executive Officer Abdollah Ansari sent July 30 and provided to the Tribune by Marlowe, Huang said that “based on the Council’s discussion at both meetings” he communicated that the city declined the projects and funding for Project 3 and 5.

He noted in the letter that in total, San Marino is requesting $14 million for Projects 1 and 2, and declining the remaining $18 million.

Skye Hannah is a senior reporter for the South Pasadena Review and the San Marino Tribune, covering education, government, sports, features and civic issues. Skye previously served as an award-winning senior staff photojournalist and staff writer for five years for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. You can contact Skye with news tips and feedback at shannah@gavilanmedia.com / Twitter @SkyeHannahCA

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