April Verlato, President of the Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association captivated the audience Thursday morning, Oct. 1, 2015, with a fascinating presentation at the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Government Affairs Forum, sponsored by Keystone 365 Sponsor Singpoli.
<Story continues below the following gallery of photos from the event and slides from the PowerPoint presentations- to change image, click arrows at sides or click on thumbnails at bottom; click “FS” at bottom right to go full screen, and “SL” to have slides sequence.> [flagallery gid=329]
April was born and raised in Arcadia, attended UCLA and then Southwestern University School of Law. She took over her father’s law practice in 2000 and focuses on car accident cases, estate planning and probates. She is one of the founding members of the Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association.
Before April began her presentation (more on that below), Bruce McCallum who headed up the Special Olympics Host Town Arcadia committee was presented with a Taste of Arcadia wine/water glass by Forum chairman Jack Orswell. Thank you Bruce for your service to our community! Bruce did a fine job of making everything went smoothly for the athletes that stayed in Arcadia in advance of the start of the games.
In June of 2010 a group was put together in downtown Arcadia referred that eventually formed a Community Benefits District made up of local business and property owners for the purpose of sparking economic activity in the area. They basically want to make the downtown a destination spot for Arcadians who will spend their dollars locally helping to bolster downtown businesses and make the downtown an even more enjoyable place to visit. Since the Association was formed, it has co-sponsored a beautiful Christmas market with Arcadia’s Best Foundation that took place on Saturday evenings during three weekends last December. In addition, they sponsored the Ultimate Downtown Arcadia Giveaway that consisted of a raffle for prizes donated by local downtown merchants culminating in an event at the Arcadia Blues Club featuring the middle school rock band.
The Association also sponsored the July 3, 2015 Patriotic Festival at the Arcadia Transit Plaza adjacent to the Gold Line train station. About 3,000 people attended the Festival and adjacent Street Fair featuring a farmer’s market, unique arts and crafts items and variety of other exhibitors and live music, food, drinks and A Rockin Ice featuring Hawaiian shave ice. One of the sponsors of the Patriotic Festival was former Mayor Peter Amundson who was in attendance at today’s Forum. The weekly Street Fair became a Friday night destination this past summer for thousands of people, bringing a lot of new foot traffic into the downtown, which helped showcase the downtown merchants.
Looking forward, April sees more entertainment, more food and more retail once the Metro Gold Line begins operations this coming spring. The Association hopes to launch a revised “Downtown Arcadia Fusion” moving to Saturday nights starting in November. The plan is to focus more specifically on food and music and blend more craft-oriented merchants with Chinese vendors. Approval is required by the City Council before this new concept can be implemented and begin operations.
Another important piece of the puzzle for the Association, in it’s efforts to tout downtown businesses, is to make use of social media to promote the downtown. The Book Rack for example is a wonderful bookstore that a lot of people are not aware of in Arcadia, but through social media people are becoming more aware that we have a wonderful family owned bookstore right here in our downtown! Neighborhood Music School is another fine example of what downtown Arcadia has to offer. The fine folks at Neighborhood Music School participated in the street fairs with a booth and ended up getting ten new clients due to the exposure.
As part of the discussion revolving around business development, Tim Schwehr from the City of Arcadia stated that the City is focusing on the downtown in addition to other areas of the City. The City is helping to promote the downtown and encourage development of parcels such as the mixed-use project near 24 Hour Fitness that will have retail and residences. It should be noted that April and everyone on the board of the association is a volunteer dedicating countless hours to making Downtown Arcadia a place to do business.
Reports from legislators and their representatives:
- Viola Van, representing Congresswoman Judy Chu, presented PowerPoint photos and information summarizing a number of events including a Press Conference for the Emergency Preparedness Expo held in the Arcadia Police Department Community Room featuring 4 speakers including Congresswoman Judy Chu, Assemblymember Ed Chau, Mayor Gary Kovacic and School Superintendent David Vannasdall. The press conference was called to highlight the Expo held on Sunday, September 27, 2015. In fact, the expo was a huge success with an estimated 550 people in attendance to bring awareness to what each and everyone of us must do to be prepared in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or windstorm. Viola also alerted everyone to Service Academy Day on October 3, 2015 at the Glendora Public Libraary. This event is hosted by the Congresswoman where she brings in representatives from the Military Academies for those who are considering applying to become an officer in one of the military branches. And perhaps one of the most amazing projects that the Congresswoman helps organize is her annual collection of gently used clothing, toiletries, household cleaning products and children’s school supplies to help support the victims of domestic violence from Elizabeth House, Pacific Lifeline, Grace Services, Project Sister Family Services and Shepherd’s Door. There are numerous collection locations located throughout the San Gabriel Valley.
- Adam Hsu, representing Assemblymember Ed Chau, stated that the Assemblymember was happy to partner with the City of Arcadia and Congresswoman Judy Chu’s office in hosting the aforementioned Emergency Preparedness Expo. Adam also indicates that his office is the process of organizing the annual turkey giveaway that will take place at the Church of Our Saviour in El Monte. The turkeys will help so many families at Thanksgiving. Finally, Adam indicates that his Capitol office is working on a legislative summary that should be quite helpful to all of us.
- Brian Mejia, representing Supervisor Michael Antonovich, stated that the Board of Supervisors approved the formation of an umbrella system for the consolidation of three agencies: Public Health, Health Services and Mental Health. The hope is that Dr. Mitchell Katz will oversee the consolidation effort ensuring better services to patients. The goal is to make things more efficient all around. Dr. Katz is know for innovative cost savings. Brian indicates the County is also working on homeless issues and in fact has approved $905,000 to start the winter shelter program early this year due to the threat posed from El Nino. It is estimated that there are 44,000 homeless individuals in Los Angeles County. Also, the County has pledged another 50 million dollars to the County’s effort to help the homeless. Supervisor Michael Antonovich will host another wonderful Trail Dusters Ride in La Canada Flintridge on Sunday, October 18, 2015 starting at 7 a.m. with check in and a pancake breakfast followed by the trail ride at 9 a.m.
- Tim Schwehr, representing the City of Arcadia, indicates that there were many representatives of the City present at the Taste of Arcadia who were there to highlight all that the City has to offer it’s residents. In that vein the City has launched a Dine & Delight promotional brochure campaign that highlights many of the fine Arcadia Chamber of Commerce member restaurants in the City. It is a great fold-out guide to restaurants and options for dining in the City of Arcadia.
- Mike Vecillo, representing the Arcadia Police Department, thanked everyone for participating in the Expo. Mike gave a special thanks to Assemblymember Ed Chau for providing translation headsets at the event.
- Linda Sells from the Monrovia, Arcadia and Duarte Town Council was pleased to introduce new Council Member Lucy Nicoloro to the forum. Welcome Lucy! Lucy is the wife of John Nicoloro who sadly passed away earlier this year. John dedicated himself to public service and his community. Linda indicates that Metro was invited to a recent Council meeting so that residents could address questions to Metro representatives regarding the testing of trains at Myrtle Avenue. The reps were also able to field a variety of other questions and concerns the residents had relative to Metro train operations. Also, Linda indicates that they are still looking for a site to house the library in the Live Oak area.
- Scott Hettrick, CEO of the Arcadia Chamber, indicates that the Taste of Arcadia was a success. People seemed very happy with all of the food and drink offerings. Scott indicates that there has been a lot of positive feedback including many people happy that valet parking was offered this year. In fact 150 cars made use of the valet service. Scott specifically thanked Bruce McCallum for all that he did to make the Taste of Arcadia such a wonderful event. Bruce served as the Chief Taste Officer of this years Taste.
The next Government Affairs Forum on November 5 at 8 a.m. will feature Jim Waterhouse with Climate Reality discussing climate change.
The public is invited at 8 a.m. on the first Thursday of each month to hear informative presentations at the monthly Government Affairs Forum sponsored by Singpoli and led by Chairman Jack Orswell from Orswell & Kasman, Inc. Environmental Assessments & Consulting. RSVPs to the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce office are appreciated – (626) 447-2159 or info@ArcadiaCaChamber.org.