City Manager Marcella Marlowe


The City Council began its dive into the budgeting session at a special meeting last week, where administrators went over several capital equipment purchases proposed by city departments for the next fiscal year.
No commitments were made last week. Rather, the council signaled a simple agreement that the purchases be included in the departments’ broader budget proposals, potentially with more informative reports on them. Capital projects will be considered in this straw poll format next month.

The City Council delayed judgment of an appeal to a future date, in part to push the applicants to actually get input from a number of neighbors regarding a reality television series the applicants hope to film at a home.
In its meeting last week, the council also punted on an appeal for a mixed-use building proposed to be built along Mission Street, instead opting to schedule a de novo hearing at a later date. The city is expected to argue that the project should be denied because it could not pass a plan check in the event it was approved, at least as currently designed.
The four applicants for the denied filming permit — Rosemary Lay, Julie Chan Lin, Alice Shyu and Weni Wilson — are in the meantime tasked with revisiting a number of homes within a 500-foot radius of their own houses they deemed to be unoccupied in their initial surveys. Additionally, the city staff report indicated that they overlooked some required homes entirely in their initial surveying.

Five San Marino residents who want to create what a spokesperson for the group called a “presentation film” but were denied filming permits will appeal the decision at the city council meeting on Wednesday, March 11.
Alice Shyu, Rosemary Lay, Julie Chan Lin, Carol Huang and Weni Wilson, along with two other women — Winnie Wang and Elizabeth Yang, who do not live in San Marino — were refused filming permits by the city on Feb. 11.

Mayor Ken Ude will be the featured speaker for the San Marino City Club’s January meeting.

Ken Ude, who last month took over as the community’s mayor for a year, will be the featured speaker for the San Marino City Club’s first meeting of 2021 on Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m.
Ude will speak about the state of the city and update the club on the status of many of the key projects and issues currently facing San Marino.
A 35-year resident of the community, Ude was elected to the City Council in November 2017 after running on the premise that “San Marino is a $30 million business and should be run like one.” Professionally, Ude was CEO of a number of private equity-backed companies in a variety of industries, ranging from a race car driving school to women’s cosmetics to PODS portable storage.
More recently, he was director of USC’s Family Business Program, which led him into consulting with family-owned businesses as they grow their market and plan for generational transitions. His focus on the council has been on financial, operational and capital improvements.
Ude is a graduate of USC, where he earned his undergraduate degree, Master of Business Administration degree and a master’s in public relations. Ken and his wife,

The City Council this week will consider maintenance and upgrades to the San Marino Police Department that, like much of the deferred care for municipal buildings, is likely long overdue.
The council is being asked to use up to $66,700 to fumigate the building to address termite infestation and to spend as much as $108,500 for an electrical infrastructure upgrade that will, among other benefits, allow the department to implement state-mandated updates to its 911 system. Both items include a 10% contingency fee to cover any unforeseen additions to the bill.

At long last, the city may have its new community services director, who will take the wheel as the Recreation Department undergoes a metamorphosis.
The City Council will be tasked Friday with rubber-stamping the hiring of Brian Haworth to the role, as recommended by City Manager Marcella Marlowe. Haworth would fill a position that’s been vacant since 2018, although temporarily occupied by interim placeholders from time to time.
Although the community services director does also include operations at the Crowell Public Library under its purview, intense focus will be on how the director steers redevelopment of the Recreation Department. The council previously decided to revamp and modernize the program to be more cost-effective while also emphasizing critical community-building programs.
This move will go alongside the department’s presumed move to the San Marino Center, after being housed in the Stoneman School building for years.

Photo by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
If the City Council chooses to continue with a renovation project for the San Marino Center, it will decide whether to continue in its current midcentury modern style (right) or convert it to blend in with the Spanish colonial revival look contained in the Crowell Public Library (left).

The City Council was expected this week to approve a concept design for a possible remodel of the San Marino Center, the building that for several decades was known as the Woman’s Club and is located on Huntington Drive just west of the Crowell Public Library.
The project, which was estimated last year to cost in the neighborhood of $4 million, will be paid for out of the city’s general fund if it advances through the several stages needed for approval. The city currently has a $15.7 million unassigned fund balance with another $18 million in capital funds.
The council was expected on Wednesday to hear from Crane Architectural Services and a locally assembled task force, which was seated with the specific purpose of researching the project. The council was expected to give direction to the design firm Wednesday night on the basis of public input collected at 11 public meetings that have been held since July.

City residents had their first chances this week to weigh in on what they envision for a remodeled San Marino Center, and will continue to have opportunities through early September.
Depending on how satisfied the City Council is with what Crane Architectural Services produces after these outreach opportunities, it may direct the firm to finalize its proposal on Sept. 9. In the meantime, residents will be able to take video tours of the building, preview renderings at an Aug. 24 virtual town hall meeting and listen in on the Planning Commission’s evaluation of the proposal on Aug. 26.
City officials discussed the project at a virtual town hall on Monday and again at the subsequent Public Safety Commission meeting. The work will involve redesigning much of the interior, bringing the structure up to code and potentially aesthetically modifying the exterior to some extent.
“It is much simpler to refresh the exterior and move interior walls around to improve the facility,” explained Parks and Public Works Director Michael Throne at the town hall.

In a fairly straightforward meeting, the City Council last Friday adopted a 2020-21 municipal budget without controversy and with a pledge to keep on top of revenues as the nation’s economy lurches through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The panel unanimously approved the $37.4 million spending plan, the biggest part of which is the $27.2 million operating budget, with the remainder comprising capital projects. With a projected revenue stream of $32.2 million, city officials expect to add $2.5 million to the General Fund reserve balance and subtract $8.1 million from the Capital Projects Fund.
Finance Director Paul Chung, who prepared his first budget for the city, described his revenue projections as “conservative but yet optimistic” that the city would be relatively unaffected by the economic disruptions caused by pandemic-related shutdowns, thanks to property taxes that represent more than two-thirds of the city’s income.

City officials have released plans and renderings for proposed renovations to the San Marino Center, the building at 1800 Huntington Drive that for most of its existence was called the San Marino Woman’s Club.
If completed, the structure will be brought up to current building codes, match the decor of the neighboring Crowell Public Library and serve as a “usable, flexible and modern community center facility,” in the words of Michael Throne, the city’s public works director and engineer.
The project is estimated to cost approximately $4 million, according to City Manager Marcella Marlowe. The San Marino City Council could take the next steps at one of its upcoming meetings, which are scheduled for Friday, May 29, and Friday, June 5.
The city will host a town hall meeting if the council decides to move forward with the project. The council could then vote to award the design plan as early as its July 8 meeting, according to Marlowe, with the project possibly going out to bid in December.
“This is the right time to take on this project,” said City Councilman Ken Ude, who along with Steve Talt served as a council liaison on the project. “The building is really old, has not been upgraded in 50 years and does not function well. Moreover, we have the capital to deploy, and contractors should be hungry for the work with other cities in post-COVID financial trouble. So, we should be able to get the project done faster and at a lower cost.
“The city’s in good financial shape and our reserve has continued to grow at a time when we have increased our investments in streets, sidewalks and infrastructure.”
Construction was completed in April 1952 on what at the time was the Woman’s Club, which held its first meeting in the new clubhouse that month. In 2005, the building was sold to the city and renamed the San Marino Center.
In its current layout, the building can accommodate up to 300 people and is available to rent for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other special events. The facility has three main rooms: an auditorium, dining room and the Fireside Room, which is used for smaller events and meetings. The facility also includes an industrial kitchen.
San Marino City Club holds most of its meetings in the San Marino Center, and the building is also used for a weekly bridge game. The San Marino Chamber of Commerce also keeps an office on the premises.
“The conceptual drawings for the San Marino Center are a big step for the city,” Talt said. “For years, we have spoken about what to do about improving the facilities. The plan for remodeling it in a complementary design to the library makes sense to me, and putting the asset to work for the city is the sensible thing to do. The plan to modernize the layout will increase the opportunities for use by Recreation and for larger city gatherings.”
Throne said that the council could add the San Marino Center into the Capital Improvement Plan for the 2020-21 fiscal year. He said residents will be asked to provide input on the project ahead of the July meeting.
Talt also wants to hear from the public.
“We have a lot of work to do before we get there, and I am excited to hear from the residents about their thoughts on its design and use,” Talt said.