Why I’m Running . . .

I’m a neighbor like you. Your home is as important as mine. Like you, I am concerned with the direction our city is heading. I agree with our neighbors that we need to bring Alhambra back to its former charm and glory. We need historic preservation to protect our quaint and charming neighborhoods too!

We need to fund an economic development plan to build up the East Main Commercial Corridor (EMCC) — from Chapel east to the city border — to its former vibrancy and create a place for our community to gather and enjoy — an Old Town Alhambra shopping district for example!

For years I’ve worked along side our neighbors to defend Alhambra from developers who want to build high-rise market-rate condos next to our traditional single family homes. Now, I am running for city council because, the fact is, our past and current council representatives of District 1 continue to fail us.

It’s time to level-up our effort to protect our homes and preserve our city — neighbors have asked me to run. After so many years working behind the scenes on social justice issues and campaigns, I’m answering the call to public service qualified with education, experience and passion for justice, equity and fairness. I humbly ask for a campaign contribution and your vote.

— Ari Gutiérrez Arámbula, MBA
Candidate for City Council, District 1

P.S. Regardless of party affiliation, our issues in District 1 are nonpartisan. We are neighbors helping neighbors to protect our homes and enhance our neighborhood.

The Basis of My Commitment . . .

I have been a resident of Alhambra for 18 years. My wife and I own our home and we have a daughter in elementary school that attends All Souls World Language Catholic School in Alhambra.  We, as a family, are committed to Alhambra for the long run.

My day job is working as the Statewide Government Advertising Marketing Director for the Daily Journal Corporation.  We provide media buying services to government agencies – this means I have over 30 years’ experience working with government agencies’ public notice and public awareness advertising for issues ranging from the basics of Ordinances and Bid Notices to health services and Hiring Bus Operators, Fire Fighters and Police Officers.  Overall, the work I do professionally is about helping the public become aware of public policies, business opportunities and to help them access services offered by government agencies.

My business and marketing skill-set has been very useful in my community volunteer work too:  Over the last 30 years I’ve been involved in the Democratic Party – I served as a delegate for the 49th Assembly District and in 2008 was elected “Democrat of the Year” by my peers.  I co-founded HONOR PAC, am a lifetime member of the Stonewall Democratic Club and I am also a founder of the Latino Equality Alliance, an LGBTQ Latinx non-profit advocacy group established in the wake of Prop 8 to conduct public education work in the Latino communities that voted against us.

Community Issues Overview

Budget; What are some of your ideas of how the city can do more with less money in maintaining City services and supporting residents and business in the upcoming years?

With my experience with a “startup” nonprofit, I am keenly aware of the pressures of needing to serve the community while balancing the budget and maximizing human resources. As a businesswoman, I also know there are two tracks on which to focus – That is, to maximize results and lower costs concurrently.   In that light, the city should leverage available supportive resources.  For example, with so many colleges in our area, the city could formalize a college intern program that would help increase human resource support and output in various disciplines including urban planning. (And create a pipeline for future employees.)

There are also a number of grant opportunities and government resources to which the city can apply and/or help connect local businesses to so they can thrive.  By referring or facilitating support for local businesses – each the city, the businesses and their customers win!   An example of this could be connecting local business to the Small Business Administration (SBA) mentorship program – hosting trainings at city hall, for example.

The bottom line: The highest priority for the city needs to be to maximize the resident and visitor experience.  That is, happy customers (residents and visitors) equal successful businesses and increased sales tax revenue to the city.  This policy will inform city cleanliness, traffic management, pedestrian safety, public transportation, etc.

Communication; What have you done, or will you do to improve communication between your constituency and city hall, and what ideas do you have to improve overall communications that have not already been implemented?

 I am aware the city has a new website and uses social media to inform constituents.  However, there are more cross-marketing tactics the city can use to lift up its visibility and encourage patronage to its businesses.  And – not all residents are on social media so there needs to more intentional community outreach.

  • In the past, the city had the Mosaic campaign. The city still has some goodwill from that campaign. It could be revived as a post-COVID economic revitalization tool.
  • Also, the city needs to be more proactive with its own PR – There needs to be an intentional long-term economic development campaign for Alhambra. For Example:
  • Getting a story in tourist magazines like Sunset and AAA’s member magazine for example
  • A feature story on the long running farmers market would be another great story.
  • As would visiting locations that appeared in movies in Alhambra.
  • Promoting the regional history and historical homes and locations would be another.
  • A special story on the diversity of great food in the city.
  • Actively promoting the city to businesses looking for new locations.

It’s really about getting Alhambra back on the “map” for working, visiting and entertainment – not just as a “pass through” city.

Housing; Under what circumstances might you support large-scale developments to address the housing shortage? How would you support affordable housing and combat the gentrification of our neighborhoods?

I agree that housing development in Alhambra should match and complement the character of the city.  With The Villages project – over and above its issues with toxic vapors — residents were clear they don’t want (large-scale) high-rise condos in Alhambra.

To address the housing shortage, Alhambra can look to the best practice solutions of other cities – for example, in San Francisco – empty commercial office space buildings are being converted to housing.   In Riverside County – an old strip shopping mall is being converted to a live/work/shopping development.

As such, looking for ways to refurbish and repurpose existing under-used spaces would be a great place to start in adding affordable housing. Tax incentives and facilitating zoning and fast-tracking permits in ways that would help use existing buildings for housing could help more quickly buildup housing stock and neutralize gentrification in residential zones.

Transportation; How would you balance the need for additional housing and supporting businesses with the need for an effective and efficient system of circulation and transportation in the City? What would you propose to make the best use of what is now the “710 stub?” What specific ideas do you have to improve local transportation in the city?

 As with any problem, this needs to be broken down into various elements:

Local Commuters: Increasing the probability that residents can stay to work in the area would decrease commuting out of the area. Assuring that public transportation is meeting the needs of the residents in terms of cleanliness, safety, timeliness and destinations would help increase use of public transit.  For example: Can school kids get to school on time based on the current bus schedules? Can employees at major work centers – like the Public Works building and City Hall and Downtown Alhambra get to work and home based on the current public transit capacity? Do we need shuttles to/from the Light rail, Metrolink station or other major transfer points?

Regional Commuters: It would be good develop a regional “rideshare” app along with our neighboring cities (San Marino, Pasadena, Arcadia, Temple City, etc.) that commuters could use if they are driving alone or if they need a ride if they are going to the same destination (Medical Center, College, DTLA).  This “ride share” mentality is something that manifested organically in Alameda for folks commuting over the Bay Bridge into/out of San Francisco.  Those with more than one passenger were allowed on the fast lane. Perhaps free carpool access or other incentives like a free drink, dinner, movie after x number of rides.  Maybe a cost sharing element where the rider pitches in gas money but on a weekly or monthly rate.

For the 710 Stub: Alhambra needs to take “ownership” literally and figuratively.  There is a lot of “air space” there that could be repurposed into a commuter transit center – where the Metrolink, high speed commuter buses and loaner EV cars could be based.  It can also be a Park and Ride center for commuters.   We could also establish a drop off/pick up spot for folks going to the airport by having an airport shuttle zones – and a commuter shuttle station for folks going to the big game or concert.   All this could be designed within the existing center median.   Above this commuter “grand central station” – could be housing, recreation and work space and open space.  Idea: The County’s Public Works yard, currently located on the LAC+USC Medical Campus wants to relocate closer to the Alhambra Headquarter building.  The underused land at the 710 stub and above is would a prime location for this public facility.  The employees such an operation would bring to the area would add to the local economy when they go out to lunch, get their car serviced or shop. 

Parks and Recreation; What will you do to encourage the development of more park space and expand recreational opportunities and programs for adults and children?

We need support the needs of youngest residents.  With a young child at home, I know how difficult it is to find safe play spaces for our kids.  I know the teens use the area in front of city hall for skateboarding.  I am lucky to live on a cul-de-sac that makes it safer for kids to play on the street.

I agree that the city needs to create “safe play areas” for children of various age groups.  It should not be an afterthought in a new development. Adding interesting play structures in public spaces such at the plaza in-front of the movie theatre or on the roof of the library or parking structure would create destinations for young families.

Smaller pocket parks and recreational spaces within communities would be good.  I am aware of an effort along the LA River (in the Frogtown area) where each street that dead-ended to the river developed a different type of “open community space” for use by the residents and informed by the residents.  One street might choose to set up a basketball hoop, another might have opted for picnic tables and another for a kid play structure.   The idea is “creating spaces” out of underutilized space and community participating in designing its use.

Representing District 1: How might Democratic principles guide you in your work on the city council 

This is a n nonpartisan race — The issues affecting all parts of Alhambra affect all residents regardless of party affiliation.  As someone who supports civil rights and social justice – I am fully aware that representation at every level of government is important – including local offices.  And this year, voters will elect their council district representative for the first time “by-district” instead of citywide.   As a grassroots community advocate, this change presents an opportunity for me to step up to serve the community of residence – where my family and I have a vested interest.

 Additionally, I am challenging the incumbent because this is a critical opportunity for our community to elect a representative on the council with strong democratic values, proven grassroots leadership and experience in business and policy who works proactively and collaboratively.