City Manager Mark Yokoyama to retire

Photo by Leo Wu.

Location

Alhambra , CA United States

Alhambra City Manager Mark Yokoyama will retire effective Nov. 2 after a little over a year in the position.

Yokoyama decided to step down due to personal family matters, said Alhambra City Councilmember Barbara Messina. She also said that the City Council was preparing to search for a new city manager.

The city manager said that spending time with his family was the primary consideration, with one son going off to college and with him having already put 31 years into public service.

Yokoyama’s 18 months in the position was marked by the achievement of various park improvement projects. He said that he was proud that Alhambra was converting its street lights to LED lights in the southeast part of the city, in an effort to be more environmentally sustainable. He also listed the City’s homeless liaison program as something he was proud of, as well as internal improvements, including an initiative to make permitting and other processes paperless.

More disappointing was the City’s attempts to bring development to Alhambra, and the protests that such attempts attracted. Yokoyama mentioned opposition to the Lowe’s project, which is currently tied up in litigation, as particularly frustrating.

“People put in a lot of time and energy into that project, and the challenges to it put a lot of pressure on staff and the city,” he said. “But people have differing viewpoints and that’s the nature of the beast.”

Yokoyama was Alhambra’s chief of police from 2011 to 2016, when he took the city manager position after Mary Swink’s retirement. Under his leadership, the Alhambra Police Department launched a Weibo account to connect with the Chinese community, the first police department in the United States to do so.

As city manager, Yokoyama was instrumental in redirecting almost $8 million federal money to various capital and park improvements, as well as homeless services. The City Council had originally considered using that money to build a controversial parking structure in Almansor Park.

Alhambra resident Gerry Fagoaga considered Yokoyama a very fair and attentive city manager who always answered her questions. She and other residents had met with Yokoyama over the parking structure project. “I’m really sad to see him go,” she said.

“He was a wonderful person, a wonderful police chief,” said Messina. “You just gotta do what you gotta do for your family.”

Yokoyama said that it was a privilege for him to work with such a talented city staff. “They do phenomenal work and I will miss being a part of that,” he said.

Initial article has been updated to include quotes from Mark Yokoyama, as well residents. The article has also been updated to state that Yokoyama’s last day is on Nov. 2 instead of Nov. 1.

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