Newly Elected Mayor Richard Sun Shares Hopes For New Term

Outgoing Mayor Allan Yung Re-emphasizes City’s Need for More Recreational Facilities

STEPPING ASIDE: Mayor Richard Sun, left, presents outgoing mayor, Councilmember Allan Yung, with a City of San Marino tile in appreciation of Yung’s two terms as mayor of the city. Sun took over as mayor at the Dec. 14 meeting. Kev Kurdoghlian Photo

By a unanimous vote of his fellow councilmembers, Dr. Richard Sun was elected mayor of the City of San Marino during the San Marino City Council’s annual reorganization at its Dec. 14 meeting. Sun succeeds Councilmember Allan Yung, who completed his second term as the city’s mayor this year. Richard Ward was elected vice mayor.

All three men—having nearly served two consecutive four-year terms—will be termed out at the end of 2017.

Sun presented a seven-point agenda for his mayoral term. Two of his seven points addressed city personnel.

“The city needs to go through a recruitment process to hire a permanent city manager and this one can’t wait for too long,” Sun said, while praising the work of interim City Manager Cindy Collins.

Collins plans to leave the position at the end of her contract on June 30, 2017. “In the past year, we’ve had quite a bit of turnover,” he also stated, referring to the departure of the city’s finance director and city manager and the arrival of its new fire chief, police chief and public works director.

Future staffing at the city will likely be impacted by the council’s Ad Hoc Budget Committee report, which was delivered to the council last week by its citizen advisor authors.

Though the report is currently being reviewed by the city’s labor attorney, Mayor Sun said, “The council, here, really needs to review the recommendations and determine the implementation plan for the findings of the [Ad Hoc Budget Committee] report.”

Mayor Sun explained the need to address the city’s approximately $20 million unfunded pension liability.

“The city really needs to conduct a financial forecast and actuarial study to help city council, staff and residents better understand our financial condition before any major financial decision is going to be made,” he proposed.

Sun suggested actuarial study and financial forecast that, he said, will help to formulate a strategic plan to address the city’s aging infrastructure.

“We do need a permanent plan. As you know, our storm pipe [and] sewer line, they are very aged already. We do need to have a plan for those improvements,” Sun noted.

Sun declared his intention to improve the city’s historical preservation ordinance, too.

“I know we have one already, but that one, to me, is not very thorough, not very complete,” he said, calling for a “more substantial” ordinance that includes procedures for historic designation.

Sun also emphasized the need for a disaster preparedness drill.

“The big earthquake has been overdue as we all know. I’d like to see our city adequately prepared for such a large scale emergency. I would like to suggest a citywide emergency preparedness drill, where we simulate disaster incidents throughout the city and each city council member and staff prepare themselves for the role they’re supposed to play when a disaster comes,” he explained.

A disaster preparedness drill will be especially crucial, he noted, for Stoneman School, which, Sun said, is “not earthquake retrofitted; it’s not ADA compliant; there’s no hot water; [and] there’s no HVAC.”

“Since we purchased it [from the SMUSD], it really became a liability because of all the delayed maintenance. So we really need to determine what needs to be done about Stoneman,” Sun said of the facility, which has housed the city’s Recreation Dept. offices since 2012.

In a speech delivered prior to the transference of power to Sun, immediate past Mayor Yung also spoke about Stoneman’s fate.

In a call to action, he stated, “In a few years, if we don’t do anything, if the big bad wolf comes around and if he huffs and puffs, [Stoneman and the San Marino Center] will fall apart. So let’s do something to those two buildings and not stand back and let them fall.”

Yung framed his call to action as part of an effort to build a greater sense of community.

“Besides making friends as you take your kids to school as they grow up, I believe the city has an obligation to afford more recreational facilities for all the people so they get to know each other and form a new basis for community sense,” Yung said.

Like Sun, Yung addressed the city’s pension obligations and the need to manage its aging infrastructure, suggesting that each year a portion of the city’s reserves be budgeted for infrastructure improvements.

However, Council Member Yung charted a different path for San Marino’s housing stock, recommending that owners improve their homes to increase the city’s property tax revenue.

“For increasing revenue from the property tax, I believe we need to improve on our smaller homes,” he said. “In some of our smaller homes, the total livable square footage is only 2,000 square feet, that is including the 400 square feet of garage.”

“I would like to see, down the road, that at least anyone who lives in San Marino has at least a 2,000 square foot home no matter the size of your lot to meet the requirement of new families and new lifestyles,” he noted.

Yung also spoke about architectural integrity.

“It is never too much to stress to ask for conformity of new buildings and especially architectural excellence,” he explained, asking for homes that are compatible with the city’s heritage.

Yung particularly expressed support for architectural purity.

“As I see some of the new buildings owned by newer arrivals, they have the experience of the world and they’d like to build their buildings with seven different versions. And I believe the purity of architecture is of most importance,” he added.

The city council will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m. at San Marino City Hall.