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Panel OKs EIR for San Marino Center

The San Marino City Council took another step toward a planned renovation project on the San Marino Center when the panel certified the final environmental impact report at its meeting on Wednesday, June 8. Mayor Susan Jakubowski, Vice Mayor Steve Talt and council member Ken Ude supported the proposal while council members Gretchen Shepherd Romey and Dr. Steven Huang dissented.

The city will now send out bid packets to the six vendors who were prequalified on the project, which currently carries a price tag estimated at $8.3 million. If all goes according to schedule, the project will be awarded to the successful bidders, with groundbreaking anticipated for Sept. 1.

The city needs to spend more than $3 million simply to address deferred maintenance issues on the building, which includes mechanical, plumbing, electrical, disability access, roofing and other general repair issues needed to bring it up to code. The building requires these improvements in order to remain open on a limited basis, according to a study completed earlier this year.

The city council heard several comments from members of the San Marino Center Renovation Task Force, which comprises community members Al Boegh, Raymond Cheng, John Chou, Toby McDonald Chou, Steve Domier, Jaime Gertmenian, Jennifer Giles, Angela Liang and Calvin Lo. Talt and Ude have been the council liaisons, via their council-appointed role as liaisons to the city’s Recreation Commission.

Shepherd Romey explained her objections to the project, which include traffic, parking and other structural issues, and at the end of the day sided with Huang in voting against the proposal. 

City Manager Marcella Marlowe said “there are many issues with” the San Marino Center in its current state.

“I have concerns that this is going to cost much more,” Shepherd Romey said. “I have a large concern that this is going in a direction that I am not comfortable with.”

Ude asked City Manager Marcella Marlowe what the future of the building might include if a renovation is not forthcoming.

“There are many issues with this building,” said Marlowe. “It is a building that has risk associated with using it. We have proceeded with using it because we were under the impression that we’d be moving to a renovation within the next few months. If we do not move to a renovation in the next few months we will have to re-evaluate whether this building can be used in its current form.”

When it came time to vote, Ude said that it is important to “push forward” with the project by accepting the EIR.

The project was delayed and costs increased last year when the plans were changed from a Spanish Mediterranean style to a modern Colonial theme to abate a possible issue regarding the historical significance of the 70-year-old building.

Construction was completed in April 1952 on what at the time was the San Marino Woman’s Club, which held its first meeting in the new clubhouse that month. In 2005, the building was sold to the city and renamed the San Marino Center.

In its current layout, the building can accommodate as many as 300 people and is available to rent for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other special events. The facility has three main rooms: an auditorium, dining room and the Fireside Room, which is used for smaller events and meetings. The facility also includes an industrial kitchen.

The San Marino City Council has six prequalified contractors who will be bidding on the job.

San Marino City Club holds most of its meetings in the San Marino Center, and in non-pandemic times, the building is also used for a weekly bridge game.

Marlowe said that the projected costs have escalated because of increases in construction figures over the last 18 months, which she said are estimated to be approximately 20%. Costs related to, and emanating out of, the EIR process have also caused estimates to grow.

Bids are expected back on July 29.

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