During a special meeting held on March 24, 2022, the Alhambra City Council discussed its Strategic Plan. The City has made progress towards most of its goals, including approving the construction of new affordable housing.
Mayor Maloney spoke against any proposed tax raises, as these would require ballot measures costing the City upwards of $250,000 per initiative. This includes the controversial vacancy tax that had been under consideration. The Mayor directed staff to think of alternative ways to fill vacancies. Community Development Director, Andrew Ho, proposed a vacancy registry, where commercial property owners would have to register with the City and pay a fee when their properties become vacant. This would allow the City to have a complete list of all vacant properties, along with the owners' contact information. It is expected that a formal proposal will be introduced to the City Council this summer, although no dates were agreed upon.
Councilwoman Perez commented that the City's permitting process is lengthy and contributes to the vacancy problem. She directed staff to work with the Chamber of Commerce to streamline permit applications. Mayor Maloney echoed her comments and acknowledged the need for property and business owners to participate in the process. Andrew Ho said that his team has already prepared a plan, which will be presented to the Council in May.
On the same note, Council has directed staff to evaluate the creation of a vacant storefront window covering program. Staff said a proposed ordinance will be presented in July. No further details were provided to the public. Staff also announced that the Economic Study for West Valley is ready to be reviewed by the Council, and they will present it during the April 25 meeting.
Other noteworthy items discussed were a pilot program the City has launched to inspect rental properties with two or more rentals in the market and a potential new tax on Airbnbs. No details were disclosed to the public about the pilot program, and Mayor Maloney once again cautioned against an expensive ballot initiative to create a tax. Councilwoman Lee expressed that it is more important to cap the number of days hosts can offer their space for short-term rentals, which can be achieved through an ordinance. Andrew Ho informed the council that his department is working on creating Airbnb regulations. However, Councilwoman Perez expressed that she is still interested in creating a Transient Occupancy Tax on Airbnbs to boost the City's revenues. No action was taken, but it is expected that the Council will discuss a more specific plan this summer.
You can watch a full recording of the meeting here.