Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Third Neighborhood Treasure...

Introducing (drum roll please) the finalized artwork for the third Neighborhood Treasure!

The Neighborhood what???

Please allow us to remind you…

Neighborhood Treasures is a program that celebrates Monrovia’s (often unsung) heroes for their contributions to the community through public art. These art pieces are unique to the specific person being honored and will enrich the lives of those who view it and improve neighborhoods just by its presence.

Is this a great program, or what???

We know you must be asking yourself a myriad of questions:
“Are there only three Neighborhood Treasures?”
“How do I find out about all the Treasures?”
“Who is this mysterious third Treasure?”

All good questions and we can’t wait to answer each and everyone…

First, there are four Neighborhood Treasures celebrated to date – click here to learn about the first, second and fourth Treasures (and see their amazing artwork.) Though this is the third Treasure, it is the fourth art unveiled. And lastly, the third Treasure is Bettie Mae Scott, not to be confused with Bettie Mae Page!

Sounds like are talking in circles, but here’s the whole point of this post…

Bettie Mae Scott was a World War II WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) who died while serving her country. In October 1943, she entered the Army Airforce Training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. Bettie Mae was killed while flight testing a BT-13 Valiant aircraft. She was one of only thirty-eight WWII WASPs killed while in the service of their country.

To read Bettie Mae’s entire bio click here.

Stay tuned for information on the fourth and fifth Treasures coming soon! How soon you ask??? Real soon.

Can’t wait that long – here’s a click here.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Additional Plannerese..

Put down that Pumpkin Spice Latte…

Hold your thoughts on your Halloween costume…
We're continuing our celebration of what really makes October special – 


[pause for the rapturous applause to die down]

As you know loyal reader, it’s that special time of year when the winds start to gust and everyone starts thinking about urban planning. 

Well, maybe it's just us, but we hope we've heightened your awareness of all the planning that's been going on around Monrovia for the past half a century.  You're thinking about urban planning, right? Is that just us?

Like most professions, Planning has its own jargon that we affectionately refer to as Plannerese.  Not just words, but also a whole cadre of acronyms to boot!

But you know us, we like to help. an early trick or treat, we're including a special word search filled with all sorts of helpful planning lingo to add to your vocabulary.  

Can't read that small print?  Well, neither can we, so click here to download your very own copy of the word search.  Make copies, they're excellent pumpkin stuffers!

Good luck and remember – sometimes setbacks are a good thing!

Have you met our Planners yet!? If not, see our previous blog post to get to know a little bit about our wonderful Planning Staff here at the City of Monrovia!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Meet the Monrovia Planning Division Team!

The Monrovia planners are a pretty fun group.

Do you want to meet them?
Oh come on…we know you want to, which is why we decided to take up some blog space to introduce them to you.

Monrovia Planners

Introducing Sheri Bermejo (Planning Division Manager), Barbara Lynch (Senior Planner), John Mayer (Senior Planner), Teresa Santilena (Associate Planner), Austin Arnold (Assistant Planner), Vincent Gillespie (Planning Technician), Brenda Quezada (Planning Technician), and last but not least our Community Development Director Craig Jimenez.

We are really a fun team and we have a great sense of humor! However, rest assured that our hearts are focused daily on good planning efforts for the City of Monrovia.  Below is a little bit about each of your planners.

Sheri Bermejo, Planning Division Manager

Sheri has been with the City of Monrovia for almost four years, and is in love with this amazing community.  She has been a city planner for over fourteen years, and has a degree in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of California San Diego.  She speaks Spanish (almost) fluently and loves to practice the language. (Please don’t get her started…she tends to get carried away and is known to even make up words.) 

When asked, what is the first thing she considers when reviewing architectural plans for a new development, her response is, “the people.”  Sheri makes every effort for her team to never lose sight of the human aspect in every project proposal. There is always an important personal reason why someone is going through a home addition, desiring to build an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit), or even seeking to open a new business. She makes every effort to understand every individual’s personal need to ensure a successful project. While buildings visually enhance our physical environment, they also serve a greater human need for the individuals in our community, whether it be a senior citizen, a worker, a child, a person living with disabilities, a resident, or a business owner.

As you can imagine, planners, get the opportunity to learn about many new and innovative land use proposals. We asked Sheri, if she felt there was a type of land use proposal that was missing here in California…her answer was Yes! It would be great if California had specialized respite care and hospice homes for children and their families. Sheri is a special needs mom and is driven to help to facilitate the development of such place which could benefit families across Southern California.  

Barbara Lynch, Senior Planner
How many years does it take a planner to be the best they can be?  If the number of years makes a difference Barbara is at her best!  Barbara joined the City in 1976 (not a typo) following her graduation from Cal Poly Pomona where she was one of seven women in the planning program.  She has been a planner for the City for over 43 years.  However, to clarify this just a bit they were not all full time years.  Barbara and her coworker chose to job share for several years to allow them to spend time with their growing families. Barbara returned back to work full time once her youngest graduated from high school. 

Planning was a male dominated field when Barbara entered the planning profession and she has watched it evolve to a more balanced profession of both women and men.  Currently, Monrovia has 3 ½ women Planners (okay Barbara’s part-time again) and 3 male Planners.  Barbara says “we’re winning!”

As a planner and resident of the City, Barbara has seen from start to finish what good planning practices can do for a community.  She has seen the historic old town transition from sleepy to vibrant.  She says there were literally chickens running loose on East Huntington Drive before the area was redeveloped in the 80’s.  Barbara is proud to have been a part of the planning process that helped Monrovia become the City it is today. She is always full of stories and truly enjoys sharing them.

John Mayer, Senior Planner

John has been with the City for a little over a year, and is extremely proud to work for a charming city like Monrovia.  He believes that the City’s planning efforts contribute towards a good quality of life for its citizens and businesses.  With the relentless pressure for development, John believes that unique cities like Monrovia can grow and change while retaining its status as the “gem of the foothills”.  John is interested in the way planners can protect the small town character and how individual projects and new construction can be stitched into the existing fabric of the city.  He believes the value of planning is through protecting the scale and appearance of any particular neighborhood.  John is certified through the American Institute of Certified Planners and holds Degrees in Public Administration and Urban and Regional Planning.

Teresa Santilena, Associate Planner

Teresa has been with the City for 6½ years, and spent a year and a half in the Public Works Department before moving over to the Planning Division. Though Planning is her passion, that time in Public Works has given her a unique perspective and insight into how private property and public spaces work together to create this great community. Teresa went to UC Irvine for her Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP… kind of sounds like the sound an exotic bird would make, doesn’t it?) when she decided that the financial industry was not for her and she wanted to do work that was more community oriented.

Teresa loves to travel and likes to take tours to see how cities have responded to their unique challenges through the built environment. Yes, she really is a Plan-nerd! She would love her next trip to take her to Panama so that she can say she hiked from the Atlantic to the Pacific in one afternoon. And, of course, to see that famous canal in action!

If you were to ask Teresa what she likes about being a planner, she would tell you that she likes that every day is a new and different challenge and uses different parts of her brain… the analytical, the creative, and, best of all - the social! If you were to delve a little deeper into her psyche, though, you’d discover that understanding how the world around her was developed gives Teresa a sense of security and makes her feel like a part of something bigger.

Austin Arnold, Assistant Planner

Austin has been with the City of Monrovia for over three years. Prior to that, he worked for the City of Rosemead and the City of Chino. His Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning came from a strong background at Cal Poly Pomona for three years and finished at the University of Utah. He loves that Planners work together for a better future; the fact that they get to review all aspects of a project to help fulfill and create both the short and long- term goals and polices of the General Plan.

Austin recently got married in Maui, HI in February to his wife Mariana Attia-Arnold. At the same time, they also bought a house together in the City of Azusa. You may see Austin riding his bike around town as he has become full eco-friendly and has ditched the automobile to ride the Goldline and his bicycle to and from work! Austin loves movies and spending time with his wife planning different trips around the world.

Vincent Gillespie, Planning Technician
Vincent has been with the City of Monrovia for a year and a half, and prior to that, the City of Claremont and Temple City. He graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Vincent believes that planning and design are opportunities for Planners to positively influence the way people live. Individual buildings, neighborhoods, and public spaces are the canvas on which Planners craft their art.

You may see Vincent walking around the downtown area and strolling through the residential neighborhoods taking in all the sights and sounds. In his free time, he enjoys traveling to different cities, graphic design, free-hand sketching, and photography, as well as exploring the City of Monrovia on his lunch breaks. Some of his favorite places to visit in Monrovia are the tree-lined streets of the Wildrose Historic District, the many ice cream and coffee shops in Old Town (Yum!), and the wide open spaces of Library Park.

Brenda Quezada, Planning Technician
Brenda is the newest member of the Planning Division having started less than six month ago. She has a degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Cal Poly Pomona. After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona, Brenda started interning for the Cities of Pasadena, Los Angeles, and Burbank. Brenda quickly realized that Planning involves a multitude of tasks that can become great opportunities for learning new skills along with building rapport with colleagues and city residents.

Brenda lives in the Santa Clarita Valley and enjoys volunteering for her local Habitat for Humanity agency when she has some free time. This summer, Brenda volunteered for the new Habitat homes on Lomita Avenue in Glendale where she got to help put framing together and do some landscaping.

Craig Jimenez, Community Development Director

And last but not least.....our fearless Community Development Director, Craig Jimenez, has been with the City for almost a quarter of a century. He wears many hats and shepherds the Building, Neighborhood Services and Planning Divisions. Craig attended Cal Poly Pomona and has a degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He is also certified through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). 

Craig is a teacher at heart and encourages all of his staff to continue to learn by providing us the opportunity to attend conferences and trainings to further our growth. Aside from being a peanut butter aficionado and Halloween enthusiast (NOT!), he also loves old fashioned black and white movies (if you see him, ask him what he has seen recently).