Consultant Submits Economic Development Plan

Sternquist and Yu express frustration at hearing recommendations before community hearings conclude.

Written by RANDY SHUN / Published January 21, 2010 (ONLINE ONLY)

The economic development consultant, Avant Garde Inc., has officially turned in a plan to revitalize the local economy.

Program director Robert Paz appeared before the Temple City Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) on Monday, September 21, 2009. He offered a summary of the list of recommendations detailed in his plan.

For Temple City to have a “vibrant and healthy business environment,” the program director issued four action items the City Council and CRA should take.

The items include formalizing a ‘Center City’ section at the heart of the downtown, implementing an enhanced Façade Improvement Program, commissioning the conceptual design of capital improvement programs along Las Tunas Drive, and initiating the investigation of a downtown business improvement district.

Paz also expressed praise at the level of turnout for the first town hall meeting. A meeting was held at the Live Oak Park Community Center on Tuesday, September 15.

According to Paz, a little over a hundred people attended the first town hall. Two more town hall meetings have been planned: another meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, September 22, and a final mandarin-based town hall will take place on September 23.

“There was a level of participation that knocked my socks off,” the program director stated.

In addition to calling the first town hall meeting “phenomenal,” the consultant lauded the responses given last Tuesday.

“What came out of these meetings were fantastic ideas,” he added.

After Paz ended his oral report to the CRA, agency member Cynthia Sternquist expressed frustration at the consultant.

Sternquist, who was not on the City Council when the consulting firm was hired, questioned whether Avant Garde should have waited for all the town hall meetings to conclude before submitting a recommendation.

In response to the agency member, Paz commented that Avant Garde was charged with brainstorming ideas to present before the CRA. The program director then noted that he would be willing to change any of his ideas if the CRA desired them to be altered.

Similar to agency member Sternquist, CRA vice-chairman Vincent Yu shared his concern that the consultant had submitted a formal plan prior to the end of the town hall meetings.

Yu suggested Avant Garde return with an update “to reflect what the community wants” after the last forum is held.

Defending his report, Paz commented, “I want you to have this at your disposal to make your decision.”

“In no way are we asking for action tonight,” he clarified.

Avant Garde Inc. was hired in April 2009 after a new council majority emerged from the March election.

In July, Paz and partner Benjamin Martinez circulated several ideas to rejuvenate the economic climate. The ideas included an intensive code enforcement ordinance, a revised façade improvement program, and a farmers’ market.

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