LOS ANGELES COUNTY
On Tuesday Jan 15th the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took the following action on the proposed Stormwater Tax.
The protest process shall remain open for 60 days, delaying further Board of Supervisors action until March 12 and allowing parcel owners additional time to submit protest forms.
The final, revised ordinance must be completed and made available to the public before any election is scheduled. The LA County Department of Public Works staff is directed to report back to the Board of Supervisors within 60 days:
1. An assessment of the feasibility of adding an on-line process for filing protests
2. Details for the Board of Supervisors to consider the option of putting the measure on a general election ballot (rather than a mail-in ballot among parcel owners)
3. Revising the measure to include a sunset clause of not more than 30 years
4. A list of projects that would be funded by the measure
5. Revising the measure to provide for credits or reductions for properties already performing storm water runoff pollution abatement
6. Alternative options for funding storm water runoff pollution abatement.
REALTORS® and their clients need to be involved with this process. You need to submit your Protest Forms. Your clients need to submit Protest Forms. Please engage your office colleagues, friends and neighbors. Anyone who owns a parcel in Los Angeles County needs to submit the Protest Form. CVAR can supply you with a Protest Form via an on-line link or in person.
A unanimous City Council has decided against asking residents to pay additional taxes to fund public safety services. Still, it will be months before the completion of a $90,000 study designed to evaluate the cost of contracting policing services from the County. The city says it can no longer fund its police department under current conditions. Like other cities across the state, it is now looking to contract out public safety services – the city’s most expensive department. City officials have said they’re concerned about long-term challenges posed by police pension and retiree medical benefits, which they say could bankrupt the city if nothing is done. In November, city administrators presented several public safety tax proposals, including a parcel tax, sales tax and an increase in the city’s utility-users tax in an effort to generate the $4 million and $5 million needed to continue funding public safety operations and retiree health obligations. The council considered whether to ask voters to approve one of the tax proposals, but ultimately decided against any ballot initiative. According to Baldwin Park administrators, the city spends $19.5 million on its police department. A contract with the Sheriff’s Department would cost an estimated $14.8 million, after making adjustments for a loss of police revenues, such as grants and jail fees, and ongoing costs such as pension obligations, according to city officials.
The City Council members approved the purchase of new utility billing system. The cost to purchase, install and implement the system is $77,000 to Able Software. The city’s evaluation team determined that Able Software’s online bill pay and paperless billing capabilities afforded a better customer experience in comparison to the two other finalists, which were Harris Computer and True Point Solutions. Able Software also provides a smartphone/tablet computer application for residents who wish to use these devices to view their accounts and pay their bills from a mobile device. City officials said the software will take about two years to implement. The 2012-13 budget includes an appropriation for $50,000, therefore, an appropriation amendment was required moving $27,000 from the Information Technology Retained Earnings to the Information Technology Capital Outlay Budget.
A residential development at Base Line Road and Mountain Avenue with 54 detached condominium units was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission on January 15th. The development site formerly housed the Claremont Unified School District offices, which are currently at 170 W. San Jose Ave. In February 2012, home builder D.R. Horton put in a winning bid of $6.2 million for the 4.35 acre piece of school district property at 2080 N. Mountain Ave. Of the 54 units, eight will be moderate income affordable housing. D.R. Horton vice president of entitlements Daniel W. Boyd said the moderate income units will be approximately $275,000 to $295,000 based on moderate income level in Los Angeles County. The development will return before the Claremont City Council at a future date.
In other matters the Claremont City Council approved and adopted parking permits and closure hours for the Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail and the Thompson Creek parking lots while adding an exemption for veterans displaying special license plates. City manager Tony Ramos said at the meeting that construction on the Claremont Hills northern parking lot is several weeks behind schedule because of recent rain and it’s anticipated to open by the middle to the end of February pending weather. Special license plates include: Pearl Harbor Survivor plates, Legion of Valor plates , Former American Prisoner of War plates, Congressional Medal of Honor plates, Purple Heart plates ,other plates issued by another state that indicate a similar status. The Claremont Hills wilderness hours and its north parking lot on Mills Avenue near the entrance are open: January 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, February 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, March 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m , April 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m, May 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. , June 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ,July 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ,August 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. September 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ,October 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ,November 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. ,December 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Temporary parking permits for $3 for up to four hours can be purchased for a fee at on-site meters in both the Claremont Hills park and the Thompson Creek parking lots. Annual parking permits will start at $100 per calendar year and be prorated based on the quarter of the year they are purchased. Claremont resident and Claremont Colleges student parking permits will permit free parking in the south Thompson Creek Trail parking lot,at the corner of Mills Avenue and Mt. Baldy Road. A maximum of two parking permits can be issued per household. Permits must be renewed at the end of the third year. The south lot parking times will coincide with the Thompson Creek Trail hours, which are from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily as set forth by the Claremont Muncipal Code. In a separate item, council also approved eliminating all parking on Mills Avenue, north of Pomello Drive and on Mt. Baldy from Mills to Via Padova, which coincides with the opening of the north Claremont Hills Wilderness Park parking lot and the implementation of the paid parking system. The item includes a study of parking on the west side of Mills from Pomello to Mt. Baldy as part of the overall parking plan to be developed for the wilderness park. For questions about the parking permit program, contact the Alexander Hughes Community Center at 909-399-5490.
The McGill Street Transitional House in Covina for the last six years has temporarily housed homeless women and children while they get back on their feet. But because the property is owned by the city’s former redevelopment agency, which was dissolved last year as part of statewide legislation, it is in danger of being sold. The state Department of Finance – which enforces how redevelopment funds are spent and determining which assets need to be sold as part of the wind-down – in December told the city that the property had to go and was expected to make a final decision on the matter. In response to Covina’s threat of litigation, the department passed the matter on to the State Controller’s Office to hand down the final verdict. Officials with the Department of Finance said they are still reviewing the matter and will render a decision by March. After redevelopment agencies were dissolved, successor agencies were set up to help cities sort out which assets and properties needed to be liquidated, the profits of which would go to local public services. Properties could be disposed of either through a transfer to the city, sale to developers or a number of other options. Oversight boards on those successor agencies could return assets to the cities if they rule the properties serve a government purpose. Covina created a housing authority to take over housing assets and programs, including the McGill House. What’s in question, however, is whether the property was transferred from the successor agency to the housing authority too late. If it was, the property may need to be liquidated. The State Controller would have to determine whether the property was transferred improperly. The McGill House was created in 2004 to meet the needs of homeless families in the area and satisfy low- and moderate-income housing requirements. Catholic Charities of Los Angeles operates the facility for the city and provides case management services. Since it began operating, the shelter and its staff have helped 15 families – including 32 children – find permanent housing. City officials have said that if the state was to force a sale, it would displace the two families currently living in the three-bedroom home.
The Valley Mall, a row of shops and restaurants off of Valley Boulevard, is getting a face-lift. The city in December began work to repair damaged sidewalks, curbs and gutter sections as well as update them for handicapped access. The project is paid through federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money. The City Council recently approved a $1 million contract with Enterprise Construction, Inc. for construction services and an ongoing work order with existing consultant AIM consulting services for project and construction management services not to exceed $160,700.Construction is expected to be completed by March 2013
Government agencies that serve the area around Irwindale will get at least $13 million in cash from the t city’s former redevelopment agency. On January 15th, the local board that oversees the unwinding of Irwindale’s redevelopment agency voted to send at least $13.18 million to the county, which would eventually be sent to school districts, fire districts and other local government bodies. The vote was a milestone in the dismantling of one of the area’s largest redevelopment agencies. Like Irwindale, cities across the state this week are reporting just how much cash they have to disburse to county accountants. When their accounting of assets eventually get approved by the state, cities will begin writing checks to the county that formerly went to those cities’ redevelopment agencies. The state will review Irwindale’s figures and could request more money. The state legislature in 2011 outlawed redevelopment agencies, which were used to capture property taxes into community-improvement accounts controlled by cities. The agencies’ assets are instead to be sent to the county to be divided among the local government agencies. Irwindale is unique in that its redevelopment agency captured an outsized share of taxes compared to its population of about 1,400 residents. Irwindale’s agency brought in about $22 million a year, according to the State Controller’s Office. Neighboring West Covina, with about 107,000 residents, captured about $26 million annually with its redevelopment agency, according to the Controller’s Office. Irwindale was also unique in that it had so much cash on hand. Most agencies borrowed against their property taxes right away. For whatever reason, Irwindale let cash pile up. But the payments are not exactly the windfall they seem to be. The money simply makes up for cash that the state government won’t be sending those same agencies. In essence, it’s a way to plug holes in the state budget, which Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced was balanced for the coming fiscal year. The cessation of redevelopment agencies is a major blow for Irwindale. The city spent $3.6 million a year in administrative costs to staff City Hall, according to the Controller’s Office. The city’s redevelopment program also financed massive development projects. The Huy Fong hot sauce plant was made possible in part by the city’s redevelopment agency. The massive plant on Azusa Canyon Road is capable of producing up to 20 million bottles of the popular Sriracha hot sauce each year.
The La Puente Planning Commission has given a developer the go-ahead to demolish the long-vacant Hollywood Video building on the corner of Hacienda Boulevard and Amar Road. The move will allow for more visibility to the shopping center and its planned anchor, Harbor Freight Tools, a popular bargain hardware store. The commission unanimously approved the new plans last month, paving the way for the developer to submit construction plans and drawings. The move will allow for applicant, Steve Doctor, to tear down the 6,000-square-foot former Hollywood Video building, built in 1990, and add additional parking in its place. The blighted building at 15427 Amar Road has been vacant since Hollywood Video went bankrupt in 2008, officials said. The commission’s decision will allow for them to make the physical change to the property, which will include the demolition of the Hollywood Video, include additional parking in that area, and the signage and facade changes to the remaining building there in the back. New anchor tenant, Harbor Freight Tools, will occupy a space in the remaining 33,000-square-foot multi-tenant retail building in the rear. The lube and oil change facility next to it will remain unchanged. The entire property is 2.46 acres.
Ever since Borders Books and Music went out of the business, the 42,000-square-foot building adjacent to Montclair Plaza has sat empty. But in recent weeks, the interior has being demolished to make way for Ashley Furniture Homestore set to open in the spring. Those involved hope the new store will spur development in the surrounding vacant buildings and the Montclair Plaza. The seller was represented by Brad Umansky of Progressive Real Estate Partners who said the furniture store could provide a development boost, which has also seen the closure of two neighboring national retailers during the economy downturn. With the former Borders bookstore adjacent to the 10 Freeway it provides the new tenant with easy exposure to the public. Ashley purchased the building and signed a long-term lease on the land. Financial terms for the sale could not be disclosed, he said. Borders had closed in April 2011 and a month later, Ashley inquired about the property, indicating they were looking for a couple of locations in Southern California. Crews have already demolished the interior of the building and Ashley will formally submit plans to the City.
City Council unanimously agreed to uphold a Planning Commission decision on a 36-acre development in the northeast part of town. The change to the plan was being appealed by the Inland Empire Oversight Committee because they felt the project was not subject to correct environmental regulations. The project, by Brookfield Residential, will have 259 homes and townhomes.In September the city’s Planning Commission approved an amendment to the Festival Specific Plan, the 36-acre development that includes the proposed housing project and the neighboring 5.5 acre commercial development. The amendment involved reducing the office space component to the plan and making it predominantly residential. According to city staff, the city did follow all the necessary guidelines to make sure the project did not cause any environmental impacts. Blum added that the committee did not file the appeal within the appropriate deadlines, under environmental laws.
City Council members chose an option which calls for widening the 71 from a four-lane highway to an eight-lane freeway and building a pedestrian bridge near Ninth Street to replace an existing one near Grier Street that does not meet accessibility requirements for the disabled. They also called for eliminating intersections along the 71 Freeway between the 10 and 60 freeways. In addition, council members opted to eliminate plans for a frontage road to the west of the 71 and an over-crossing at Old Pomona Road that would have connected Village Loop Road and Lexington Avenue. Selecting a preferred option was needed so Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority can carry out additional work needed to include the 71 project in a package that would compete for funding from a state public-private partnership program. If the proposal is approved, then Caltrans would be in charge of the project but the Authority would handle the financing. Should the transportation agencies be successful in securing funding it may be possible to move up the widening ahead of schedule. Plans call for widening the freeway by 2030 but the public-private partnership could make it possible to move the project’s completion to 2015. An analysis has already been completed that identified numerous intersections that would benefit from improvements such as traffic signals, lane modifications, road re-stripping and new signage that would be paid for as part of the widening project. The analysis must be carried out again to evaluate the effects of the council’s changes, she said. Closing intersections on the path of the 71 will also require some traffic studies and once completed the city and Caltrans representatives will bring the information to the council.
The City is poised to open a new public works service center and household hazardous waste facility in February. The complex, which began construction in July 2011 near Ninth and Hellman avenues, will feature several sustainable features such as California native/drought tolerant landscaping, subterranean and drip irrigation, natural lighting, LED parking lot lights, and pervious pavement. The complex will be the first municipal building to feature a large-scale solar panel project. With energy and water costs anticipated to rise, the development of facilities with sustainable components is going to become more common in the future. The goal for the project was to exceed California energy-use requirements. About 80 percent of energy for the new buildings, will be supplied by the 200-kilovolt panels. The household hazardous waste building has 165 panels installed on its roof. The public works services building has 630 panels. The building will also serve as a public demonstration center for drought-tolerant landscaping. The city is investigating the feasibility of expanding drought resistant landscaping throughout more parts of the city. It began as a pilot program for such projects as landscaping on Haven Avenue medians in recent months. City officials said they also hope to improve operations and customer service at the new household hazardous waste center by reducing weather closures by providing a sheltered work space and a drive-through to handle more people as well as increasing storage space. Construction costs for the Public Works Service Center were about $9.7 million and were primarily funded using Redevelopment Agency Funds, along with some use of Capital Reserve funds. Construction costs for the Household Hazardous Waste Facility were about $2.1 million from integrated waste management funds the city collects from hauler franchise fees
City Manager Stephen Dunn has placed his recommendation on outsourcing public safety on hold pending the outcome of labor negotiations. All seven of the employee groups have offered to pay their portion of their pension. Officials noted that the combined savings from all the employee groups will exceed potentially any savings from outsourcing either police services or fire services. The city has responded to the employees’ concessions and is now working out the details on the agreements, which should be ready for City Council approval at the next meeting, on Jan. 28. In November, the City Council gave the City Manager approval to look into several ways to reduce costs to the city, including asking employee groups to make concessions. The City Manager recommended looking into outsourcing public-safety services and contracting out other city services with the goal of freeing up at least $2 million annually in the budget. If all city employees agree to pay their share of pensions it would result in an estimated a savings of $1.3 million to the general fund.
After being vacant for the last several years, a Lutheran Church elementary school and playground on Valinda Avenue will soon be demolished to make room for a neighborhood of 19 single-family homes. The Planning Commission in December approved plans for Irvine-based developer Brandywine Homes to build 19 two-story homes adjacent to Immanuel First Lutheran Church at 512 S. Valinda Ave. The new gated housing community will be built on a 2.3-acre site that church officials have agreed to sell to the real estate developer. The church has been actively trying to sell a portion of its 5.1-acre land that includes a vacant pre-school through eighth-grade school, snack bar, walkways, grass athletic field and a sandlot with playground equipment. The site also contains trees that would be removed as part of the proposed residential project. The sanctuary and the parking lot leased out to the East Valley Community Health Center will remain intact. Brandywine Homes is proposing to build the homes – which will either be 2,150-square-feet or 2,430-square-feet, including attached two-car garages – in several phases. Two model homes will be built, with units being constructed as they’re sold. The project will include extra parking for guests and private open space for homeowners. The cost of the homes will range from the high $400,000s to low $500,000s. It will take about 21 months for the project to be fully built out.
To fill a vacancy, the City Council will accept letters of interest from residents to help them decide who to appoint for the remainder of the year. Former Councilman Mike Touhey submitted his letter of resignation on Jan. 7. Touhey was elected to the water board in November. To fill the vacancy, the council unanimously voted to accept letters of interest over a seven day period. The person selected for the appointment would fill the vacancy through November, when the city is scheduled to have its regular election. Officials must appoint a registered voter of the city no later than March 8.