Councilman Steven Placido faced heated criticism during Monday night’s City Council meeting for a letter he sent out announcing that a controversial Midwick Tract development had been put on hold. In the letter, he wrote, “Together we stood shoulder-to-shoulder addressing neighborhood concerns. I made sure your voices were heard, and together, we have brought change to our community.”
But founders of a grassroots organization, Preserve Midwick, challenged Placido’s role.
“You never stood behind us, you had nothing to do with it,” Elizabeth Salina, a founder of the group, said before the Council. “For you to come out now and champion it and say this is ‘our victory,’ I think the people of Alhambra are smart enough to know that that’s not the case.”
Salinas, who plans to run against Placido in the upcoming general elections in November, called the issue “blatantly political,” saying that the Councilman’s claims of “standing shoulder-to-shoulder” with the residents who opposed the project from the very beginning were simply “not true.”
Various City Council members said in response that no councilman could have taken a side on the matter, as City Ventures has never formally presented an application to the city of Alhambra for the project. Placido claimed that the Council has been “very effective” and taken a proactive approach to giving residents the opportunity to share their concerns.
“We frontloaded this and let the community have four or five additional meetings,” he said. “I was always very up front with everybody, I was always very available, and I have made every effort to bring this community into the proposal.”
But the members of Preserve Midwick were not convinced. “Dr. Placido, can you honestly say you worked with us? How many doors did you knock on?” resident Aide Zeller asked. “Neither you nor your fellow Council members can take any credit for what has been accomplished.”
Mayor Barbara Messina said that Placido acted correctly on the matter, as he would have had to recuse himself by declaring a biased opinion, and that if elected, Salinas will also have to recuse herself. “I just want to clear the air,” Messina said. “We listen to your comments, but by no means is this a political ploy.”
The proposed site developer, City Ventures, did not respond to requests for information on the project.