Arcadia Works! That was the message of the State of the City address in front of the biggest crowd ever at the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Planning Conference Jan. 28 in a conference room at host sponsor Embassy Suites by Hilton Arcadia, 211 Huntington Drive.
The 84 attendees (last year’s 55 was the previous record high) featured comments by Arcadia Mayor Gary Kovacic and the first-ever tag team State of the City address by Assistant City Manager, Development Services Director Jason Kruckeberg, Police Chief Robert Guthrie, Fire Chief Kurt Norwood, Public Works Services Director Tom Tait, and Administrative Services Director Hue Quach. (Click here to download State of the City 2016 PowerPoint. Summary below.) Three of the other four City Council Members were also in attendance as observers, Mayor Pro Tem Roger Chandler, Sho Tay, and Tom Beck, along with former Mayors Peter Amundson, Dr. Sheng Chang, and Bob Harbicht.
L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Community Relations Manager Lilian De Loza-Gutierrez provided information and answered lots of questions about the upcoming March 5 start of service of the Gold Line light rail through Arcadia. (Click here to see download Metro PowerPoint Metro 1-28-15- Lillian Monrovia. Summary below.)
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Making possible the ever-growing Planning Conference are Community Contributor Presenting Sponsors Westfield Santa Anita and Methodist Hospital, and this week’s event sponsors Century Rooter Service & Plumbing, Professional Advisory Services, BMW of Monrovia, Foothill Credit Union, Arcadia Association of Realtors, Singpoli’s Dusit D2 Hotel Constance, and the USE Eye Institute. Representatives from most of these sponsors were introduced by Arcadia Chamber CEO Scott Hettrick and made brief comments about their services and support of the Chamber.
Also making reports and presentations as part of the regular monthly board meeting of the Arcadia Chamber were Westfield Santa Anita mall General Manager Ramon Oseguera, Methodist Hospital Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Clifford Daniels (Click to download PowerPoint: Methodist Update Jan 2016 Summary below), Arcadia Unified School District Superintendent David Vannasdall (Click to download PowerPoint:
Arcadia Unified School District Presentation Summary below), Pete Siberell of Santa Anita Park, and a look back at the accomplishments of the Chamber in 2015 by President Andrew Gregson of The Executive Factor (click to download PowerPoint: Andrew Gregson Year in Review 2015-2016 Summary below) and a look ahead at goals and responsibilities for 2016-17 by President-Elect Vicki Knight of Century Rooter Service & Plumbing, who assumes her new role of President on April 1, 2016, following the Installation Dinner on March 31.
Honorees at that March 31 dinner were announced at the end of the Planning Conference — in addition to paying tribute to outgoing President Gregson, Bruce McCallum has been named Citizen of the Year, and Matt Denny’s Ale House was named Corporate Community Contributor of the Year. Details and ticket ordering, advertising, and sponsoring for that Installation Dinner here.
Andrew Gregson closed the Planning Conference by announcing the first-ever recipients of the new Arcadia Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year Award which he presented with Ambassador chairman Rich Jones of the San Marino Tribune. Vicki Knight and Sho Tay were named the first honorees for the recognition suggested by Andrew when he became President last year. Their plaques feature a colorful new certificate design overseen by Andrew, who also spearheaded the creation of colorful new member plaques this year.
Sho Tay was recognized for his constant recruiting and recommending of businesses to become members of the Arcadia Chamber. Vicki was recognized for her incredible commitment and devoting of time and finances to the Chamber through attending almost all Chamber events and constantly recruiting businesses to become members and sponsors, recruiting restaurants to participate as vendors in Taste of Arcadia (and thus become Chamber members), managing the Business Showcase at the Taste, making monthly phone calls to bring people to Networking Breakfasts, having her Century Rooter Service & Pluming be a sponsor of many Chamber events, buying All Access Passes and Taste of Arcadia tickets not only for herself but to give away as raffle prizes, and much more.
State of the City summary by Matt Miyasaki
Various departments gave reports and answered questions on the state of last year’s performance and upcoming projects related to the development of Arcadia. Proceedings began with Assistant City Manager Jason Kruckeberg, who condensed the upcoming information by stating the theme of, “Arcadia Works.”
The notion of the theme entails that Arcadia as a city has done very well in fitting the many growing and ever-changing needs of its population and has bright expectations for the upcoming year. When it comes to city planning, Jason states that a mix of residential, business and industrial elements are vital. In addition to this, he understands that there are issues with zoning codes meeting the current needs of new businesses and, because of this, his department is focusing its efforts to address all business concerns.
- Hue Quach, Administrative Services Director, illustrated that a bulk of what allows the Arcadia Works theme to establish itself is the financial department. Hue began by making note of the fact that the citywide budget is $100 million. Arcadia is seeing growth in finances since the last 2008 recession and using the generated surplus to fund programs such as the Equipment Replacement Fund and Capital Improvement Fund. A key point of Hue’s presentation shed light on misconception that while 60% of the revenue is generated through taxes, when the tax money gets distributed in the case of property taxes the city actually only receives 9.6% of the 1% property tax.
When it comes to the business needs, Hue pointed out that his department can help by promoting the establishment of businesses wanting to work with the city to improve their own growth. Through mutual cooperation and keeping up with the changing elements of Arcadia, businesses can help themselves to be better prepared in growing and fitting the needs of their clients.
- Police Chief Robert Guthrie noted that Arcadia has outstanding response times to police calls at an average 2 minutes and 54 seconds in 2015, only a smidgen longer than the 2 minute 51 seconds average seen in 2014, both of which are far lower than some other regional response times of closer to five minutes. Chief Guthrie noted that these response include myriad types of calls by the Arcadia Police Department — 16 categories ranging from burglaries to collisions. Response times for high priority calls are only 2 minutes and 20 seconds, he said. By comparison to an unusual year of few crimes in 2014, last year there was a 38% increase in property crimes and burglaries; auto-burglaries were up 11%; and Arcadia saw a dramatic 55% increase in robberies. There was, however, a reduction in commercial burglaries and in shoplifting in large part credited to the good relationship Arcadia Police have with businesses and Westfield Santa Anita to ensure crime prevention tactics are implemented.
Chief Guthrie holds an overall position that a safe Arcadia can only have positive effects on businesses as it draws in more customers and grows commerce. He encourages business to utilize the Police Departments’ social media and community outreach programs that empower local neighborhoods.
- Fire Chief Kurt Norwood reported that 70% of their responses are ambulance service calls. He said businesses would be advised to take advantage of a Paramedic Membership program; any and all expenses related to a paramedic call are covered for only $54 per year. Otherwise fees for each paramedic call are $1,900, only a portion of which might be covered by insurance after deductibles, leaving the business owner to pay $400 – $500 each time.
- Public Service Works Director Tom Tait commented on the environmental changes that Arcadia has been experiencing through the prolonged drought. He mentions that the water conservation techniques the city has been promoting will be the new normal going forward, and as a city Arcadia has made great strides in water conservation by reducing its usage by 55%. He concluded his presentation by discussing the El Nino rain storms, which their department estimates will hit the hardest in February and March. To get ahead of the storms Public Works has taken steps since last summer to ensure their response is as fast and prepared as possible. This has included checking and updating generators, cleaning out storm drain lines, and staging equipment in areas that will be known to have a severe influx of rain. Tom directed people seeking further information to the city’s website which can be found here: Public Works.
Metro Gold Line
In advance of the start of the Metro’s Foothill Gold Line train service on March 5, 2016, Lilian Gutierrez of Metro said the agency will be meeting with community organizations to provide information related to the service and safety. Free rides will be offered on opening day starting at 12 noon. Celebrations will take place in Arcadia between 12 noon – 4 p.m. During peak hours of operation, trains will be running through Arcadia at 55 mph every six minutes, with the gates across First Avenue closed for 30-seconds or more each time. About 200 trains will run each day.
Clifford Daniels of Methodist Hospital noted that Methodist received the 2016 Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence (HealthGrades) and in 2015 ranked #18 in the nation for patient safety, quality and efficiency (SafeCare Group). The hospital made $3.5 million in upgrades in 2015 and now has one of the top cardiac cath labs and offers scans of far higher quality with far lower radiation.
Arcadia School District
Arcadia Unified School District Superintendent David Vannasdall went into detail about the new theme for the year, “What If,” which involves fitting the needs of an evolving student body. Due to the expansion of simple research tools, answers have no longer become the focus. Instead, asking the correct questions is far more important. The District also continues to face funding challenges due to the state’s formula for allocation of tax dollars primarily to areas with greater financial need.
Andrew Gregson: Review of 2015-16
Arcadia Chamber of Commerce President Andrew Gregson highlighted his four goals for the past year, and their implementation has been of truly great service to every Chamber member’s experience. Key among his goals was helping to establish a membership retention system, which has allowed new members to become fully integrated in the sense of communal growth the Chamber provides. This was accomplished through introductions and constant follow up with a new member’s personal Chamber liaison. The results of his new system are really showing, as attendance for our last Networking Breakfast this January hit new limits. Andrew really did a great deal of service during his term and the upcoming months/years are sure to show great results because of his efforts.
Vicki Knight: Looking ahead
Arcadia Chamber President-Elect Vicki Knight noted the transitions being made at the Chamber this year with CEO Scott Hettrick’s departure the day before the next Board meeting on Feb. 25, and new Chamber office staff in place for the last couple of months. Scott noted that the Chamber has been around for 95 years since 1921 and that he has only been the most recent CEO for the past five years, following in the footsteps of many good Chamber leaders, with many more to come. Already in place are well laid plans and sponsors for the March 31 Installation Dinner and the Sept. 26 Taste of Arcadia. Here are just a few of the support team locked in for 2016, with interviews for a great new CEO to be concluded by early February:
- Chief Member Concierge and interim Office Manager Carrie Lynn Barker
- Member Concierge Alexandra Bonilla
- Part-time office help by Matt Miyasaki
- E-newsletters, Social Media, Fliers, Conference Room PowerPoints by MH Finstrom of HUTdogs
- Bookkeeping, invoicing by Kim Arnold of Books by Kim
- Taste of Arcadia event producer (rental equipment, lighting, sound, event design, etc.) by Wayne Tay of Town & Country Event Rentals
- Treasurer and former Chamber President Gil Stromsoe
As she plans and builds new methods to help the expansion of the chamber to thrive during an exciting point in its history, Vicki looks to incorporate guidance from past members, especially those to whom she referred to as the dream team, including Kristy Thatcher Bradshaw, who remains an Ambassador for the Arcadia Chamber after accepting a full-time job with Chamber member Custom Comfort mattresses in Pasadena, as well as recent former Presidents Denise Weaver and Andrew Gregson.