First published in the Dec. 16 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
Susan Jakubowski has patiently waited for her turn, and last Wednesday she was named mayor of San Marino for the next year.
Jakubowski was first elected to the city council in November 2017 along with Gretchen Shepherd Romey and Ken Ude when the trio bested challengers Calvin Lo, Hai-Sou Chen, Scott Kwong and Eugene Sun.
During her first four years on the panel, Jakubowski has remained busy, most recently serving a year as San Marino’s vice mayor. Additionally, she was the city’s liaison to the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments for two years, where she was a member of the capital projects and construction committee.
Jakubowski has represented the city on the Los Angeles County Sanitation District, served as alternate liaison to the San Marino Public Safety Commission, and was liaison to the city’s Planning Commission, Library Board of Trustees, Chamber of Commerce and Design Review Committee. She has also been a member of the city’s Economic Development Work Group since its inception in 2020.
In her acceptance speech last Wednesday, Jakubowski decried the fact that California’s Senate Bill 9 will take effect on Jan. 1. The new law will allow developers to split residential lots and build two new duplexes on each lot, with limited exceptions and approval processes.
“This is not what we desire,” Jakubowski said. “We fought hard not to have this new law enacted. Our City Council members wrote letters, sent emails, made phone calls and met with our state legislative representatives.”
Jakubowski said the City Council is beginning the process of considering ordinances that will retain some level of control over the proposed changes in the wake of SB 9.
Jakubowski also encouraged residents to volunteer for a proposed work group that will be formed to develop the next iteration of the city’s General Plan and another that is being established to address San Marino’s approach to diversity, equality and inclusion, or DEI.
“I am excited to work with volunteer residents in pulling the community together,” she said of the DEI program. “We need to know and celebrate our differences, and hear the stories where we might be able to support healing.”
Jakubowski stated that she felt the DEI effort was an extension of her 2017 campaign slogan: “We are One San Marino.”
On her first full day as mayor, Jakubowski attended the city’s employee luncheon, where she “walked the table,” in her parlance.
“I was delighted and, frankly, surprised to hear how much our employees enjoy working for our city,” she said. “As a group they are unfailingly gracious, even sometimes when residents are not. It has been a tough two years with being required to work ‘live.’ With that, I hope our council, during its budget process, can find some self-directed educational funds for our full-time employees. We have a number of folks who have been here a really long time and love their work. More non-monetary validation and expression of support would be meaningful, in my opinion.”
The new mayor acknowledged the performance of City Manager Marcella Marlowe, who she praised for “keeping the city operating as it has” during the pandemic.
Jakubowski is also looking forward to the city’s joining with the representing council members and city managers from South Pasadena and Arcadia this week to learn more about a program mandated by the County Board of Supervisors that will be overseen by the Department of Mental Health.
“Our community sometimes has resistance across all lines in reaching out when we are hurting,” she said. “If we can have a program that is voluntary and confidential, I am hopeful residents will start to look for assistance, particularly in these isolating times of COVID. There is a federal mandate for emergency ‘988’ mental wellness hot lines to be installed nationwide by Aug. 16, 2022. As a nation, we are gaining awareness of how many among us are hurting.”
She expressed optimism for the proposed modernization of the San Marino Center, which has been under consideration for more than a year.
“With our citizen volunteer team guiding us, we are excited to see a place that will take us into the next generation of program offerings,” Jakubowski said.
The terms of Jakubowski, Shepherd Romey and Ude end in November 2022.
To comply with a state request to align elections to assure maximum voter participation, all council members were granted an additional year to their terms. The terms of Steve Talt and Dr. Steven Huang will expire in November 2024. Talt was appointed vice mayor for the next year.