By Shel Segal
Ask former Planning Commissioner Eric Sunada why he is running for Alhambra City Council against incumbent Stephen Sham and he’ll tell you plenty on how the city is developing on its major corridors in the wrong ways.
“I’m running because I think the city of Alhambra’s leadership is not serving its residents properly,” Sunada said. “They’re not giving equitable returns to the community. A lot of the development is irresponsible development and doesn’t help the community and actually hurts them.”
Sunada said along streets, such as Main Street and Valley Boulevard, there are too many buildings in too small and too few spaces.
“It’s development that is of much higher densities, not in line with the infrastructure, and results in a lot of traffic, people who can’t find parking in front of their own homes,” he said. “It degrades the environment. The people who live in front of these buildings are suffering because there’s less open space.”
He added the buildings are being constructed in a very displeasing manner.
“The type of buildings they are building are monolithic,” Sunada said. “They are inward-looking. No set back from the street, no community-gathering areas. They also have planned gated communities in Alhambra for the first time. They’re very isolated. They’re stratifying the community instead of unifying it.”
Sunada also said the city is misguided in its policy of having just one major source of revenue generation.
“What the current leadership is so focused on is retail sales tax generation at all costs,” he said. They’re relying on consumer spending. The problem is Alhambra has a very modest income level. Forty-three percent of our population is in the lower income bracket and it is concentrated among children and families.”
In addition, he said this policy cannot be sustained.
“The city, on one hand, is relying on consumer spending for solvency,” he said. “Yet, the people themselves aren’t in a strong spending position. The result is the city isn’t developing for the people. And it shows.”
Also, Sunata said shoppers from outside Alhambra can’t be relied on as it is difficult to get into Alhambra and stay a while if you’re planning on shopping somewhere in the city.
“If they rely on outside consumers to come in and patronize the businesses, what happens is these consumers find with the traffic it is difficult to get into Alhambra,” he said. “There’s a lack of parking and it deters consumers from coming in.”
(Editor's Note: Steven Sham, the incumbent council member, did not return phone calls from our reporter)
(Shel Segal can be followed via Twitter @segallanded.)