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Alhambra Gets New Mayor, Raises Parking Tickets

  • By Erik Derr

Gary Yamauchi wants to bring a little more holiday magic to Alhambra’s streets.

The city’s new mayor announced at his Nov. 22 installation a list of goals he’d like to meet through the upcoming year, which includes a holiday decorating contest for businesses. “I really like to see cities that decorate downtown,” he said.


Yamauchi looks to continue the annual Alhambra Dodgers Night and also hold periodic town hall meetings, a citywide health fair next summer, a food cook-off between area high school students, a Christmas food and toy drive and an event when any and all can turn in their expired medicines instead of “flushing them down the toilet.” He also wants to reinstitute the city’s “Summer Jubilee” event series that has included well-known musical entertainment, family games, crafts and a variety of food.

It’s really a joy to see families out there, such a wonderful thing,” he said.

Under the city’s strong-city-manager system of government, every nine months the popularly-elected council members pick one of themselves to serve as mayor, a largely ceremonial position. In other words, Yamauchi may have the mayoral title, but his vote remains on par with those of the other councilors.

As he took the mayor’s gavel, Yamauchi, founder of a successful vending business and active board member for Go for Broke, a Japanese American civil rights group, offered words of appreciation for Linda, his wife of 44 years, and his fellow council members, whom he said cooperate famously.

We don’t fight. You don’t see any bruises on any of these people,” he asserted, drawing laughs from the audience. Councilman Luis Ayala was selected to serve as vice-mayor.
Before the installation proceedings, the council approved a handful of consent agenda items that included a fee hike for a city parking tickets.

The across-the-board $3 increase complies with state senate bill SB857, which was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in October and calls for the added penalty money to go towards a state trial court trust fund.

The revised parking fees are $78 for a commercial vehicle, $343 for parking in a lot reserved for handicapped drivers and $53 for all other violations.

Other approved consent items were:

- payment of $10,400.04 to Adobe Systems, Inc., for used of proprietary Website development software; payment of $6,079.05 for purchase of a new microprocessor for the swimming pool filtration system at Granada Park;

- authorization of $50,000 in funding for use with the city’s Downtown Paint Project, which will be expanded beyond the 100 businesses it’s already helped to revitalize long-vacated properties;

- and authorization for City Manager Julio Fuentes to lease out 62 acre feet of water from Alhambra’s Raymond Basin water rights to Kinneloa Irrigation District for a total sum of $18,600. Kinneloa serves about 600 meters, or 1,500 people, in north-east Los Angeles County near Pasadena.

U.S. Representative Judy Chu administered the oath of office to council members Stephen Sham, Barbara Messina and Ayala, all of whom were given uncontested term extensions after no one filed to run against them in the last election cycle.

Chu joked it was clear why voters returned the three to office. “You are such a powerful group of people,” she said. “Nobody dared to challenge you.”

The installation ceremony began with a presentation of the colors by Temple City-based Boy Scout Troop 161, led by 13-year-old Star Scout and Senior Patrol Leader Omar Khatib.

“Thank you for having confidence in all of us,” said Messina, who paid a $14,000 fine in October for violating California's Political Reform Art by funneling $20,000 in unreported funds to her campaign during the 2006 municipal election. “My commitment is 110 percent to the community and it always will be.

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