After several contentious debates, the Azusa City Council is nearing a decision on a downtown parking structure for the incoming Gold Line station. City staff presented the City Council with three options during a public hearing on the structure but advocated Alternative 2, a three-story, 550-space structure that would go north of the railroad tracks in an area that previously had been slated for retail development. The council opted to return to the issue at the July 15 meeting for approval with several amendments to the language of the deal. Previously, city staff had presented the council with a proposed parking structure that would have forced a change to Azusa’s Veterans Freedom Park behind City Hall. That proposal spurred the creation of Save Azusa’s Civic Center Park with several community members leading the opposition to the structure. The Alternative 2 parking structure would be 38 feet high, north of the railroad tracks between Alameda and Azusa avenues and require the demolition of one vacant commercial single-story building, according to the final environmental impact report. The structure would provide 200 spaces for Gold Line parking, 150 for city use and 200 for Foothill Transit. Vehicles would enter the structure from Azusa Avenue into the southwest corner of the parking structure and from Ninth Street onto Alameda Avenue into the northeast corner of the parking structure. All vehicles would exit the parking structure in the northeast corner of the structure north onto Alameda Avenue and to Ninth Street, according to the report. The structure would leave frontage on Azusa for retail development, though less than was originally planned. The council raised concerns about bus traffic flow on Ninth Street and the cost of maintenance of the structure, which was estimated between $30,000 to $40,000 per year Should the council fail to settle the parking structure debate, Metro would build the flat parking lot with 200 spaces and control the land.
City officials are looking at how to resolve the issue of residents whose properties encroach onto public land. The possibility of allowing residents under some conditions to purchase the disputed land that both they and the city maintain is theirs was discussed at a workshop. Residents received a review of the current encroachment enforcement program and be provided an overview of options for modifying the program. The city in 2009 adopted its current program in which it identifies encroachments and works on resolving each issue one street at a time. Previously, the city had the same encroachment program as San Bernardino County’s, which was to sell residents odd pieces that caused the city more trouble to maintain than not. What happened was the city would sell the land to residents who were prohibited from putting any permanent structure on it. There are now 225 homes whose boundaries officials have identified as encroaching on city land. A handful go into public property by more than 500 feet. Before the legal transfer of any land can be completed, an environmental review of the sale would have to be done and the area would have to be rezoned. The cost of those requirements will have to be met by the resident.
The Citrus Glen at Pitzer Ranch development, including existing historical rock structures at Monte Vista Avenue and Base Line Road, has begun to take shape. A tract map to subdivide the 3.3-acre Taylor Morrison-developed project with 50 condominium units was approved by the City Council on June 11. 15 percent of the 50 units will be sold as moderate affordable housing. The City Council originally approved the site project in July 2007, and three state bills had approved extended map approvals beyond their original expiration periods due to the economic recession. The preservationist group Claremont Heritage is in full support of the project despite two of the rock structures, a foreman’s residence and a storage shed, being approved for demolition because of their state of disrepair. The rock structures were believed to have been built around the turn of the century. The ones still standing arebeing restored for adaptive reuse. The barn will be used as a community center for the community there. The pump house, built on Base Line, will be used for storage for units there.The Inland Valley’s first developers, who transformed what was mostly vacant land at the turn of the 20th century, planted rows and rows of citrus trees. In the areas that hugged the San Gabriel Mountains, huge amounts of rock had to be removed from the land before the citrus could be planted, and the excess stone was used by farmers to build ranch buildings. Many of the original stone buildings still stand as relics of the citrus era, according to a Daily Bulletin article in 2008. They are scattered throughout the foothill cities among post-World War II tract homes and other modern developments.
The Covina City Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing the Alosta Brewing Co. to operate a micro-brewery in Arrow-Grand Business Park. The company’s founders have battled for the right to open their brewery — particularly with on-site tasting — since April. The Alosta Brewing Co., is named for a 19th century town near Glendora, is likely to open in September now that the company has bypassed the red tape. Few, if any micro-breweries exist in the San Gabriel Valley. Alosta Brewing Co. is a start-up created by a group of friends and members of the Crown of the Valley Brewing Society. Previously the city’s planning commission approved the use of a warehouse at 692 Arrow Grand Circle for the brewery, but that decision was contingent on a green light from council. The hitch in brewery’s opening came mostly from the tasting portion, which did not align with the guidelines of “light industry” that the brewery itself met. Council’s approval modified a planned community development ordinance by permitting on-site tasting with breweries. The company plans to have a seven-barrel system capable of producing 210 gallons of beer. It’ll have five beers on tap with plans to charge $5 for a 16 ounce taste, $7.50 for five three-ounce flights and $11 for a 64-ounce growler. Primarily, Alosta Brewing plans to sell its beer by the keg to local businesses, first in Covina and eventually throughout the county.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into the federally shuttered El Monte Transit Village, a subpoena issued June 26 shows. The subpoena signed by Carol Lally of the SEC’s Office of Enforcement requests records from or related to TV, LLC; AC Landmarks, LLC; EM Incubator, LP; El Monte Regional Center; Pacifica Manufacturer Direct Business Incubator; and the El Monte Transit Village project. The SEC’s investigation aims to pinpoint every investor, owner, employee, source of income, financial account, office location, telephone service provider and correspondence produced by the listed entities since 2009. TV, LLC must produce those documents, along with a declaration certifying the records, by 9 a.m. July 10 at the SEC’s Los Angeles office. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services shut down the El Monte Regional Center, which included the Transit Village project, in 2011. The regional center allowed foreign investors to obtain green cards through the U.S. EB-5 Visa program in exchange for investing $500,000 locally. The feds terminated the center, which largely funneled investments toward the failed El Monte Transit Village, after determining it had only attracted two investors and no longer promoted economic growth. The SEC’s investigation relates to the possibility that investors — likely investing in an attempt to receive an EB-5 work visa — were taken advantage of and whether the promoters of the regional center were in compliance with securities laws. The SEC has cracked down on regional centers in recent years. In February, the SEC filed charges against a man in Illinois after he allegedly fraudulently sold more than $145 million in securities to more than 250 investors, primarily from China, according to a SEC release. The city of El Monte remains in litigation with Leung and TV, LLC — and a number of people associated with the entities named in the subpoena — over the El Monte Transit Village. El Monte filed a counter claim for $4 million in 2011 against TV, LLC and 13 people, including Jenny Pei Lin, the majority owner of TV, LLC, and the only person named in the SEC subpoena. El Monte police arrested Leung and TV, LLC executive Jean Lang on suspicion of fraud in 2009, but the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges in the case, which was related to a separate El Monte project, the Pacific Place expansion. To date, neither has been charged with a crime. El Monte is moving forward with a scaled down version of the El Monte Transit Village, now called the Gateway project, with new developers.
The city of Glendora on July 1 began contracting its animal control services through the Inland Valley Humane Society, directing residents to the organization’s website for information on dog licensing, stray pickup and 24-hour emergency services. The City Council approved the switch from using the Glendora Police Department’s animal control division to IVHS at the June 11 council meeting. The contract offers more comprehensive services for the same price. IVHS also will investigate any crimes involving animals and report their findings to the county. The Glendora Police Department had been the provider of animal control services since 1976, though the department had been hit with serious cuts in the last few years, dropping from four full-time employees to one full-time and one part-time employee. With the switch, the part-time employee was reassigned to another position in the police department. Dog licensing fees will continue to go to Glendora and that, given the resources IVHS has, the new contract might result in an increase in revenues. With licensing now available on the IVHS website, more dogs might become licensed by the city, bringing the price of the contract closer to cost-neutral. IVHS is contracted with nine cities to provide full animal control services in the San Gabriel and Inland valleys, including Pomona, Chino, Diamond Bar and La Verne. Glendora is the 10th city to contract full services, and has used IVHS as a sheltering service for the past 15 years. IVHS will be tracking the city’s needs to determine whether additional staff will be needed, though he anticipated adding at least one more field officer to the staff. For more information, go to ivhsspca.org or the city’s website, www.ci.glendora.ca.us.
With the two main industry groups in Irwindale showing signs of a slow recovery, for the first time since the beginning of the recession, tax revenues are expected to be higher than they were in the previous year. The city’s main sources of revenue are sales taxes, utility users’ tax, mining tax and property taxes, which will total $12.5 million in the 2013-14 general fund operating revenues, according to a report by the city Finance Department. Last year, the city collected $12.3 million from those sources. Total general fund revenues for 2013-14 are projected at $14.9 million. City Council passed the approved the budget in June. City Council looked at a preliminary 2013-14 budget with expenditures totaling $18.2 million at a study session May 22. Last year, city departments were asked to reduce their budgets by 5 percent, and those cuts continue in the 2013-14 budget, according to the report. However, during the budget process, about $380,000 in additional spending priorities were identified in various city departments, such as police programs, legal fees, coyote mitigation, holiday decorations, computer replacements and professional services. The City Council also added items such as an additional night of swimming at the city pool and median maintenance and repairs. The council added several of those items to the 2013-14 budget, bringing expenditures to $18.5 million. The city will have a structural deficit of $3.6 million. In order to adopt a balanced budget, the city will use $3.6 million in general fund reserves, estimated at $20.3 million for July 1, 2013. That leaves the reserves at $16.7 million, or 90 percent of budgeted expenditures, according to the report.
Councilman Robert Rodriguez, the man who earned the affectionate moniker “Mr. La Verne” for seven decades of service, died of respiratory failure on Saturday July 6 at his home. He was 83. Rodriguez became a historic figure in Pomona when he was hired in 1953 as the Police Department’s first Mexican-American officer. Rodriguez was known for his unselfish commitment to La Verne and its citizens, said La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick. Rodriguez was born Dec. 2, 1929, the fifth of Eliseo and Concha Rodriguez’s six children. Rodriguez always contended he learned the value of family, community, country, spiritual service and community involvement from his parents. His mother’s emphasis on equitable education was behind her refusal to allow any of her children to go to a segregated school for Mexican children before Superintendent J. Marion Roynon integrated La Verne schools. He and his five siblings went to Lincoln Elementary School, which was later renamed to honor Roynon. He was a star athlete at Lincoln and Bonita High School, where he was captain of the football team. After graduating from Bonita in 1948, he went to Mt. San Antonio College. The only time he left La Verne was when he joined the Army and served in the Korean War. He received the Bronze Star, United Nations Service Medal and the Combat Infantryman Medal. Upon his return in 1953, Rodriguez became the first Latino policeman in Pomona. During 27 years of service, Rodriguez was a patrol officer, sergeant, training officer, watch commander and lieutenant. He supervised the detective bureau and gang detail and acted as the department’s community liaison. He retired in 1980. Although he was offered a police chief position in Central California, Rodriguez turned it down because he did not want to uproot his family. In 1983, he was named administrative services director at the University of La Verne, supervising campus and student safety and transportation. He retired again in 1996. Fran, his wife of 51 years, worked in the ULV accounting department and retired in 2000. Rodriguez and his siblings dedicated themselves to professions and volunteerism involving public safety, education, children’s welfare and municipal service. He earned a bachelor’s in business and a master’s in public administration at ULV. In 1980, he was appointed to the La Verne Planning Commission. In 1982, he was elected to his first City Council term. His 31 years of continuous council service is the longest in the city’s history. Civic, community, church, business, youth and community sports representatives honored him at a May 2012 tribute in The Meeting House at Hillcrest. He made it a veterans memorial benefit, and his supporters raised $10,000. Rodriguez is survived by his wife, Fran; one son, Jeff Petersen of La Verne; four daughters, Roberta Rodriguez of Palm Desert, Jennifer Lopossa of Nevada City, Calif., Lisa Mainerio of Ridgeway, Colorado and Lynda Knowles of La Verne’ one sister, Genevieve Morales of Chino; two brothers, Jay Rodriguez of Palm Springs and Richard Rodriguez of Pomona; eight grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. The Citrus Valley Association of REALTORS® extends our condolences to his family.
A development firm that has gradually been purchasing and developing land on what was once home to the General Dynamics plant has bought 22.5 acres on the north side of Mission Boulevard to the 71 Freeway with the goal of turning it into a business park. Craig Furniss, Seventh Street Development president and co-founder, has already redeveloped property along Mission Boulevard to the east of the 71 that was also part of General Dynamics and created a business park that includes privately held companies ranging from a frozen food business to a water-filtration system manufacturer. Earlier this year, ground was broken for a 245,000 square foot industrial building that will be the home of household products manufacturer Kittrich Corp. The recent purchase of the parcel to the west of the 71, which will be known as Mission 71 West, is a significant milestone. In Pomona, the General Dynamics property was purchased by different people after it closed in the mid- 1990s and the firm purchased property from three different land owners over the years to assemble the large swath of land. Plans call-for submitting proposed plans to the city to build four buildings to the west of the 71 that will range from 65,000 square feet to 202,000 square feet. Construction of what will be the fourth and final phase of the business park will probably not begin until the middle of 2014. Once completed, the Mission 71 Business Park and Mission 71 West will together total more than 2 million square feet.
The City Council recently approved suspending fire inspection and permit fees for local businesses. Officials said the amount retained by the local business community would amount to $700,000. Officials said the hope is for the fire department to be able to inspect more businesses for fire prevention. Fees that won’t be collected in 2013-2014 include recurring inspection fees for facilities such as apartment buildings, hospitals, and medical care businesses. Suspension of fees, was made possible through new revenue. A larger share of property taxes is coming into the fire district as a result of the dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies by the state last year. The fee revenue had gone to funding the department’s Prevention Bureau, which is responsible for conducting inspections. Fees that will continue to be collected:
• Special use inspection fees such as those for special events, fireworks shows, carnivals, particularly hazardous situations such as open burning and roof work.
• Special services fees such as fees for Community Facilities District (CFD) annexations and fees for false or unwanted alarms.
• Fees for district-supplied signs and equipment, such as cost recovery fees for district supplied padlocks that provide firefighter access to gates throughout the fire district, and signs alerting firefighters to obstructed access points.
The City Council approved two percent raises for department heads, the first increase since 2008. The council voted unanimously to OK the hikes after addressing concerns raised by residents that the measure would also bump the City Council’s stipend. The department heads raises are in line with similar raises recently issued for the Police Officer and Police Management Associations and five miscellaneous groups. The measure also allows department heads to place 20 hours of annual sick leave into a Retiree Health Savings Account.