The City Council of Temple City chose Avant Garde to be its economic development and redevelopment consulting firm at a special city council meeting on Monday, March 23, 2009.
Avant Garde, an economic development consulting firm, was one of three consultants present at the meeting. Buxton and Urban Futures, a firm that had worked with Temple City in the past, were also considered.
“The target audience is an attractive couple walking their dog along the streets of Temple City, “ stated Robert Paz, program director for Avant Garde.
Avant Garde hopes to incorporate three phases in their proposal submitted to city hall: commercial revitalization, increase the tax base and conduct a feasibility study of the project expansion area. Paz commented that the Alpha Beta site, Albertsons, K-Mart, the intersection of Rosemead Boulevard and the downtown as areas of opportunity.
“We want to make the Chamber [of Commerce] go ninety miles an hour,” said Paz.
Paz’s goal also includes arts and culture, as well as businesses opening pass 6 and 7 p.m.
“We want everyone to know exactly what we do,” he pledged.
In January 2009, the previous City Council voted to preliminarily hire Avant Garde after they made a presentation to the council. Councilmembers had decided to give the firm 30 days to come up with a more detailed proposal.
At the special city council meeting, the new council and City Manager Charles R. Martin inquired about additional parking, open spaces and eminent domain.
“We need some change,” stated Martin.
Mayor Pro Tempore Fernando Vizcarra added, “We need a consultant to tell us how we fix the whole darn thing.”
In response to some of the questions posed by the city council, Avant Garde stated approximately 40 percent of Temple City residents are foreign-born, 75 percent of which come from Asia. Paz also noted that eminent domain would be “absolutely the last resort.”
“They have done their homework” said councilman Tom Chavez, who supported the council hiring Avant Garde. Chavez was one of two councilmembers elected in March.
After additional deliberation, the City Council voted 4-1 to hire Avant Garde. Councilman Vincent Yu, who supported hiring Avant Garde, voted against the proposal because he insisted on giving the other firms adequate time to make their presentation.
The previous City Council had made several attempts to improve Temple City’s economic state during the past twelve months.
In June 2008, the council approved the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) proposal, lobbied by the Temple City Chamber of Commerce.
The council also attempted a moratorium on non-retail businesses in April 2008, only to dismantle it in September.
In December 2008, the council then voted to join the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership (SGVEP), a regional economic organization. Membership with the SGVEP cost Temple City $5000.
City Manager Martin, in his weekly report on March 26, 2009, wrote, “It is hoped that with the help of [Avant Garde], we will be able to find and implement the ‘stepping stones’ to a better and more successful Las Tunas Drive and other business centers.”
This article was written by Randy Shun. It was published in the Temple City Voice on June 19, 2009.