In "Alhambra Characters" we highlight our favorite snippets from past interviews. The series puts a spotlight on Alhambra's diverse and vibrant cast of denizens.
In 2011 urban planner James Rojas talked to the Source about his vision for a more pedestrian friendly Alhambra. He had recently helped create Alhambra Beyond Cars (ABC), a non-profit organization that focuses on mobility issues in Alhambra. ABC is currently on hiatus, but Rojas, who is busy with other pursuits, is still concerned with urban design in Alhambra. Indeed, his career choice was based upon experiences in the city: "In 1980, a developer came to our door and had a three story model of a building he wanted to build across the street from our house. And what happened, the city had rezoned our neighborhood without telling us," Rojas told the Alhambra City Council at a Feb. 23 meeting, where he spoke in opposition to the proposed Midwick development. After that, Rojas knew he wanted the skills to make sure that did not happen again: "I went to MIT to study city planning, and study how to get people to be involved in the planning process."
James Rojas on transportation in Alhambra:
I think the city has developed far too much of an infrastructure of buildings, but hasn’t developed anything for cyclists, walkers, and public transportation. The city is decreasing the quality of life by promoting more car activity. Plus they’re building a lot of bad development that encourages more car activity.
Rojas on Alhambra Beyond Cars, a non-profit organization that focuses on mobility issues in Alhambra:
We want to promote a more sustainable, healthier, happier city. This could be through changing policies, going after funding from the government for new projects, or reevaluating the urban design of Alhambra. The whole idea is to make Alhambra a comprehensive city where design, health, and mobility all fit in one picture.
A message Rojas would like to send to the city government:
Think about Alhambra’s future. Think about diversity in age, income, health and sustainability. A healthy city is a walking city.