Yale Daily News

At a Monday press conference, Mayor Justin Elicker appointed Arlevia Samuel as the director of Liveable City Initiative (LCI) and Sandeep Aysola as the director of the city’s Transportation, Traffic & Parking department.

Samuel has been the acting director of LCI since Oct. 2020 and is now transitioning into the role of permanent director. She starts as permanent LCI director effective immediately. Aysola was previously a senior associate at the Goodman Corporation, a transportation planning and consulting firm. He starts his permanent position on Dec. 13, as the position is currently filled in an acting capacity by Bijan Notghi.

“I’m very enthusiastic about these two individuals,” Elicker said at Monday’s press conference. “Their backgrounds bring a lot of wisdom, expertise and enthusiasm to these roles.”

Prior to assuming the role of acting director, Samuel had spent four years as the manager of the Neighborhood and Commercial Development division of LCI. She has a long history of housing experience — before moving to New Haven, she worked in property management in Bridgeport and Stamford. She worked as an asset manager with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and spent two years as housing manager with the Stamford Housing Authority.  

As acting director of LCI, Samuel led a team of neighborhood specialists in enforcing city housing codes. Her position also entailed proposing and implementing improvements and programs to create a safer and healthier community.

“I’ve been particularly impressed with Arlevia’s tenacity and interest in improving the way that we do inspections throughout the city,” Elicker said. “And her interest in improving the services that we provide to tenants across the city.”

According to Elicker, Samuel has added tablets to city inspections to allow building information to be uploaded on-site. 

Samuel echoed his emphasis on effective inspection techniques and spoke on LCI’s relationship with the resident community. 

“It’s been an arduous process, it hasn’t been overnight but our processes are improving,” Samuel said. “The techniques my staff are utilizing are more effective, and I think the community is building a better trust with us.”

She underlined her commitment to the New Haven community, noting that LCI’s obligations aren’t limited to inspections and code enforcements. LCI also operates in support of affordable housing and in ensuring that affordable housing is safe, she said.

Samuel also supports market-rate development, noting that both affordable housing and new development are needed in the city.

“It’s really important that we build community relationships,” Samuel said. “I want everyone to know what we’re here for — we don’t just do inspections, we are also working in support of affordable housing and making sure that housing is safe and sanitary.”

Aysola, the new permanent director of Transportation, Traffic & Parking, has over 15 years of experience in transportation planning and traffic engineering.

His background includes conducting projects in sustainable transportation, climate policy and traffic operations. He received a master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of the Environment.

One pressing issue that often plagues urban areas is the management of traffic tickets and parking concerns. An innovative avenue to streamline and address these challenges is the use of the NJMCDirect website, a resource that offers convenient online access to manage traffic ticket payments and provides valuable information on parking regulations.

“I’m excited about Sandeep because he brings a wealth of experience and background, and he’s shown a real commitment to New Haven,” Elicker said. “He’s lived in the city for 18 years and he’s shown to be someone that really cares about community engagement.”

According to Aysola, he became interested in leading the department due to a desire to engage in public service. As a resident he noticed transportation issues that he wanted to remedy, he said.

Aysola said that his primary goal as new director will be to increase the equity of transportation within the city. He hopes to increase connectivity between historically neglected areas and other neighborhoods, he said.  

He added that promoting climate consciousness through active, non-motorized transportation is a priority. 

Ward 21 Alder Steven Winter concurred with Aysola’s focus on active transportation, adding that it would be beneficial to speed up and electrify the Elm City bus system.

“We absolutely need to invest in green transportation, and I think that all starts with pedestrian and bicycle safety, but I also think it extends towards micro-mobility, like electric bikes and scooters,” Winter said.

Samuel and Aysola’s appointments last until Jan. 31, and Elicker promised to reappoint them for full four-year terms on Feb. 1.

Rachel Shin was Audience Editor of the YDN. Before that, she was a City beat reporter, covering nonprofits and social services. She is a junior in Silliman College majoring in English.