Lemon Grove Council member David Arambula is completing his fourth year on city council. The 45-year-old Democrat is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and works independently as a consultant.
“My top priority is to see the recovery of this city. Our continued priorities are to balance the budget, road repairs, redevelopment, reopening the recreation centers and overall increase services from public safety to City Hall.”
Arambula said the current council has done well working with the city’s monies, but that they need to be improved.
“We need to remain solvent at the same level of services that we have for our residents and other community members or better,” he said. “Development and implanting important operating procedures for the sake of consistency is important. In the past, we have not had written protocols in operating procedures which I think is stringing us in some degree. I think it will help us with transparency with the public.”
Arambula said on a regional level, his priorities remain on advocating for long-term investment and sustainable travel in East County and revamping public safety and protocols.
Arambula said housing is a number one priority, and a challenge. He said the Regional Housing Needs Allocation placed on Lemon Grove this cycle placed by SANDAG and the state nearly quadrupled the city’s housing capacity requirements with more than 1,000 units.
“We were one of the only cities in the state who actually met our RHNA numbers last cycle, nine to 10 years,” he said. “For SANDAG to come back and essentially punish us with nearly four times the amount of housing unit requirements is unfair. We are in a lawsuit, joining three other cities. We must push back.”
Arambula said there is a lot of work that needs to be done, especially in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the current council works well as a team.
“It is one of those rare times where I feel, because I believe in term limits, long-term and short-term experience is important,” he said. “I think we have a good balance on council right now that shows that. We are intimately aware of the issues, so for someone to come in and do some on-the-job training is going to be costly for the residents because time is of the essence. We have the team in place now to get it done.”
Arambula said said actions from local to state government in response to the current pandemic is something to applaud, but now it is a process of learning what needs to be done.
Children in school is one area that he said was not given much forethought.
“We have three school-aged children in our house. One in elementary, one in middle school and one in high school,” he said. “The different platforms in virtual learning, we are working out the bugs. Parents, students, staff, administration and teachers are frustrated. I think that is one of the big silver linings coming out of this, being empathetic and patient, calm and collected, and caring for each other is what is making a difference.”
Arambula said given the circumstances government response has been good, but there is always room for improvement.
“We are ensuring that any COVID related monies that we get are getting distributed as soon as possible. We recently got an influx of more than $160,000 from the state that we are looking to redistribute in the very near future. Again it will go to our community members, our businesses in the local community because it is a very interdependent relationship that we have between businesses and this city where the community and businesses do well, the city does well.”
With disincorporation on the mind of many in Lemon Grove due to its financial status, Arambula said he is not for disincorporation, but thinks the community needs to be aware of this being a possible consequence.
“I do not see disincorporation happening realistically,” he said. “If it is a consequent, it is down the line, but right now we can avoid it. If we continue to work together as a council, we already have quite a few things in play. One-time monies we are getting we are investing in return to generate more revenue to pay our pension liability. This will free us additional money for the general fund to get the services to the community including public services, adding more officers, firefighters and more equipment for both to allow them to do better work.”
Arambula is being sued by Lemon Grove candidate for mayor Christopher Williams.
The two were involved in altercation at Arambula’s house when Williams visited the councilman’s home to discuss his application to open a marijuana dispensary in the city.
Arambula said that due to the City’s involvement in the lawsuit that he could not comment on the subject.