The city’s Light and Water Department has the area on phase three of a four-phase drought plan. This phase limits Azusa residents to lawn watering and landscape irrigation two days a week. It also prohibits residents from having leaking sprinklers and from washing hardscape surfaces altogether, such as driveways and sidewalks. Typically, Azusa gets its water from the San Gabriel River and the California State Water project, a storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, power plants and pumping plants. The project makes deliveries to two-thirds of California’s population.
But due to the drought, Azusa is relying on underground water from a basin located under Highway 39, near the mouth of the San Gabriel River The city is trying its best to offer the public free workshops with up to date information on how to best protect the resource. They even provide rebates for installing certain in-home appliances that save on water. A full list of restrictions and limitations of phase three are available on the city’s Light and Water Department site, azusalw.com. If residents or business owners are caught violating these restrictions, they are issued a warning. If caught a second time, they are issued a fine, starting at $50. Visit azusalw.com for a complete list of the restrictions in phase three and for information.
If approved, a downtown street market would close Maine Avenue between Ramona Boulevard and Palm Avenue on three consecutive Thursday nights beginning Sept. 18. The market is estimated to cost the city $16,340, with about $9,000 coming from projected revenues and the remaining $7,340 coming from the city’s business improvement fund. There would be no impact to the general fund.
The closure would allow enough space for a stage, vendor booths and kids zone, the staff report states. Farmers and local grocery stores will be invited to participate in the event, though the pilot program will not be a certified farmers market, the staff report states. The city also recommended a band performance for the first week, as well as incorporating local community groups to participate in the markets.
Nov. 4 election ballot measure granting the city the authority to finance a $55 million revenue bond if the acquisition of the Golden State Water Co.’s water system exceeds $80 million has been approved by the City Council. Based on existing water rates and charges, the bond would generate enough revenue to purchase the system for up to $80 million. Claremont is not required to take the ballot measure to a public vote, but it was a move to let residents weigh in, and to keep the process as transparent as possible. A resident’s comment and reiterated by a Golden State official claims the city can actually borrow up to $135 million in its takeover efforts. The calculation takes into account the $80 million and $55 million revenue bond. The council spent most of the meeting debating what several members called an “eleventh hour” proposal submitted to the city late Tuesday afternoon by Golden State Water and Claremont Affordable Water Advocates, a group of city residents. The proposal looks at potential alternatives, other than eminent domain, to see if there’s any way possible to try and find a compromise. In the proposal, the council was asked to postpone its decision on the ballot measure so the two sides could review 20 alternatives. The council could rescind its motion calling for a special election, if it believes there is a solution, but it has to do it prior to Aug. 13 which is the deadline from Los Angeles County to remove an item from the ballot. It is going to cost Claremont $75,000 to add their special election to the November ballot.
As a way to recover some of the $180,000 it lost last year on a project to install new street signs, the city has created a new program to sell the old street signs to residents for $20 each El Monte came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed the city was paying twice what it should for new street signs. The problem started in 2010, when El Monte paid BMR Digital $178,674 to manufacture the 2,000 signs. But despite receiving payment in full, the company never did the work. Then it declared bankruptcy. The city council then had to allocate another $190,000 late last year for the manufacture of the signs by a different company. Turns out, among the investors in BMR Digital were four current and former city employees and the brother of former city manager Rene Bobadilla, according to court documents — leading some to cry foul play. But those investors — former police chief Ken Weldon, former city manager Jim Mussenden, former assistant city prosecutor Gina Aguirre, El Monte Police Detective Larry Fry and Luis Bobadilla — say they too were the victims of the BMR bankruptcy and lost money themselves. According to the city, installation of the 1,400 new signs is nearly complete. Officials said the city has had a lot of interest from the public about the old signs. Staff estimates the sale could generate about $20,000. The revenues could be used to replace other aging signs in the future. In the meantime, El Monte has continued its efforts in bankruptcy court to recover at least some of the $180,000 it lost in the BMR deal. To buy one of El Monte’s vintage street signs, call the Public Works Department at 626-580-2250.
Glendora will keep its city manager for four more years. The council voted on a contract extension at a July meeting. Jeffers has been city manager since 2007 and would continue to lead the city through July 31, 2018, if the council approves the contract extension. The changes to a $215,049 salary and $43,172 in benefits would put Jeffers in line with Claremont, San Dimas and Diamond Bar city managers, who receive $215,553, $214,350, and $214,771 for pay and $60,718, $52,886 and $47,235 in benefits, respectively. Performance reviews by the council have found Jeffers to “Exceed the Job Expectations,” city attorney D. Wayne Leech said in the staff report. The contract extension would eliminate Jeffers’ long-term disability insurance beginning Jan. 1, 2015, with 60 percent of the funds being added to the base salary and the city saving $3,616 annually. The city also would raise Jeffers’ automobile allowance to $650 per month and pay $450 per pay period toward his deferred compensation. The two increases are a combined $250 monthly pay raise, the staff report states. The contract extension also would require the city to pay $350 monthly toward Jeffers’ retirement medical plan until age 67 if he retires with at least 10 years of service with the city. The amount would be increased if the city negotiates a higher amount of contribution toward the retirement medical plan for any other city employee groups. From 2009 to early 2011, Jeffers entered into several agreements that amended the original city manager contract as a result of the Great Recession, the staff report states. The amendments are called the 2010 Extension, where Jeffers agreed to pay 100 percent of the employee portion of his PERS contribution and forgo the annual CPI salary increase for two years. Adding the CPI deferrals in 2009 and 2013, Jeffers saved the city more than $35,000 since 2009, the staff report stated.
Former Irwindale Mayor David “Chico” Fuentes has agreed to pay a $2,000 fine after the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission found the former city official violated campaign finance laws in 2012. The FPPC found Fuentes’ son solicited and accepted a donation from a towing company that was in contract negotiations with the city. FPPC investigators found that Fuentes’ son, at the advice of a guidance counselor, went around to local businesses to solicit donations for his college tuition, according to FPPC documents. In May 2012, Baldwin Park-based Royal Coaches & Towing, which was awarded a towing contract with the city, gave Nicodemus Fuentes $1,000 to help pay for his college tuition. FPPC determined the donation to Fuentes’ son is considered a donation to Fuentes, who was serving as mayor at the time. The $1,000 donation is $560 higher than the $420 legal limit that a company or person may gift to a public official in one year, according to the Political Reform Act. The FPPC said the gift to Nicodemus is a considered a gift to his father because Nicodemus is between 18 and 23 years old, is a student, lives with his father when not at school and doesn’t not provide more than a half of his own support. In September 2012, David Fuentes discovered the donation the towing company made to his son and wrote a check to the towing company for $581, which would bring the donation under the legal limit. Around the same time, the city was re-negotiating its towing contract, which had previously been exclusively given to one company. Fuentes was involved in discussions that concluded the city should share its towing contract with more than one company, according to FPPC findings. Fuentes recused himself from the vote to award Royal Coaches & Towing part of the contract after he became aware of the donation the company gave to his son. A complaint was reported to FPPC in September 2012. The maximum possible penalty for the violation is $5,000. The FPPC has issued penalties in the last couple of years ranging from $1,500 to $2,500.
The City Council unanimously approved an urgency ordinance amendment that mandates additional reductions in water use and encourages local residents, commercial enterprises and industries to cut usage 20 percent. The urgency element makes the amendment and accompanying resolutions to suspend the drought surcharge and make 2013 the base year effective immediately. On Jan. 17, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency regarding the state’s available water resources and asked Californians to voluntarily reduce their water usage by 20 percent. When that request wasn’t met, Brown issued an executive order on April 25 to strengthen state water resources management. Both Brown and the board’s actions address the need to more effectively deal with the water shortage prompted by the statewide drought moving into its fourth year. The La Verne council previously approved a water shortage contingency plan within the Municipal Code. It was a conservation effort asking locals to cut water usage by 10 percent and urging municipal water customers to develop drought-tolerant landscaping. In February, the council implemented Phase 1 of a water conservation ordinance. There are nine phases total. The emergency amendment approved implements Phase 5. This more stringent phase restricts hose washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking area and other paved surfaces; prohibits washing cars, trailers, boats and mobile equipment except when done with a hand-held water container, a hose equipped with a shut-off valve, at a commercial car wash or with reclaimed water; and prohibits restaurants, hotels, cafes and other public eateries from serving water unless a customer requests it. No water can be used to clean, fill or maintain levels in decorative fountains or similar aesthetic structures unless such water is part of a recycling system. Additional information on all the conditions in the urgency ordinance and available conservation options may be obtained at City Hall or by contacting Lisa O’Brien, the city’s public works management analyst O’Brien at email@example.com or calling her, 909-596-8741
The City of Pomona Water Operations Division has contracted to IDModeling Inc to use their service, Sedaru®. The industry’s real-time solution to connect various systems across today’s utilities, Sedaru leverages IDModeling’s successful hydraulic modeling infrastructure so that water industry professionals can anticipate water operations, understand impacts and solve problems for energy, quality, water resource, and asset management initiatives. With over 30,000 water service connections, the City of Pomona takes athe vast majority of its water from aquifers found within the Pomona Valley. During a time of economic downturn, the water division is seeking to maintain operational excellence, and looking to technology to assure the highest quality water, the most cost-efficient operations, and the highest quality of customer service. With the use of Sedaru, the water division personnel will experience connectivity with the ability to communicate, manage, and respond to events like never before, in real-time.
The San Dimas City Council approved new traffic safety measures along Allen Avenue at Bayfield and Lyford drives and along San Dimas Canyon Road to cope with crosswalk and traffic safety concerns for Allen Avenue Elementary School students. The new measures call for red curbs on the east and west side of Bayfield north of Allen to improve intersection clearance. They also prohibit pedestrian crossings at Bayfield and Allen and parking along Allen between San Dimas Canyon Road and the school’s entrance driveway during school hours. Safety improvements additionally establish five-minute student drop-off and pick-up zones along Allen from San Dimas Canyon Road to the school’s entrance driveway from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 2 to 3:30 p.m. on school days. Twenty feet of red curb will be retained to allow clearance at each end of the drop-off/pick-up zones. There will be only one marked crosswalk and it will be at Lyford and Allen. Mid-block U-turns are prohibited after the council’s action. New street signs will be installed this week to note the new restrictions. Violators will be cited by San Dimas Sheriff’s Station patrol deputies. Allen Avenue, at the junction of San Dimas Canyon Road and Allen Avenue and normally serving public school students from both San Dimas and La Verne, will be among the Bonita Unified School District schools adding more special education classes and students from the program previously operated by the Los Angeles County Office of Education. There will be more buses bringing new special ed students to the school, so at Grenier’s request the city will add more red curbing along San Dimas Canyon to allow the buses to park. Parents are also going to be encouraged to drop-off and pick-up their children on San Dimas Canyon to reduce congestion along Allen. The council’s unanimous decision followed extensive and detailed reports from veteran traffic engineer Ruth Smith of Willdan Engineers, a City of Industry firm that is the largest municipal engineering company in California
SOUTH EL MONTE
The city has embarked a $2.9 million project to install power-producing solar panels at eight city-owned facilities. The project is to be funded largely through a state loan and is expected to both pay for itself through reduced electrical costs to the city, and save the city millions of dollars on its energy bills over the coming decades.. The South El Monte City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the project at their July 30 meeting, approving an engineering, procurement, construction and financing agreement with two companies spearheading the project: project developer Eco-Sol Inc. and general contractor Borrego Solar Inc. The 664.58kW photo-voltaic power system, which is to be wired into Southern California Edison’s power grid, is tentatively scheduled for completion in July of 2015. The total cost of the project is $2,902,328, according to Callu’s report. The vast majority of the cost — $2,307,104 — is to be paid via a loan from the California Energy Commission. The low-interest loan allows for the project to be paid for by savings the city will see in it’s energy costs. Officials said $470,825 of the remaining $595,224 balance will be covered by a California Solar Initiative Rebate provided by Edison to the contractor. The last $124,399 for the project is to be paid to the contractor by the city in 11 monthly payments of $11,309, documents show. The payments are to begin 30 days after the project is completed. The plan calls for a separate agreement between the city and Borrego Solar for the maintenance and operation of the system. The first year of operation will cost $13,060, with a 2 percent increase each year for 30 years. Over the next 30 years, the system is expected to bring a gross energy cost savings of more than $11 million to the city, according to the report. After repaying the debts and covering the costs for maintenance and operation of the new system, a net savings of slightly less than $8 million is anticipated. The units to be built at the City Hall parking lot, the Community Center, the Senior Center and the Transportation Yard are being designed to be “dual purpose,” doubling as shade structures.
West Covina’s city council gave a green light to a used car dealership to take over the former Hummer property. The council waived a requirement that the lot only house a new car dealership in order to allow DriveTime, a used car franchise similar to CarMax, to lease the property from developer Ziad Alhassen. The West Covina Auto Mall has used cars sales, but only on lots primarily dedicated to new cars. For years, the city battled Alhassen over past agreements that gave the city the right to veto operators at the dealership properties at 2000 E. Garvey South. A recent settlement agreement stipulated that Alhassen must operate at least three new car dealerships at the four automotive properties he owns within city limits. The former Hummer dealership was specifically excluded from the requirements.
Just a few days after announcing Rod Butler as the top administrator, the City Council unanimously approved his three-year contract. Butler, 50, will earn a base salary of $189,629 and will receive the same benefits as the rest of the city’s executive management team for a three-year term with potential extensions. Former City Manager Stephen Dunn retired on June 30 following a tenuous relationship with some members of the City Council. Since then, former La Verne City Manager Martin Lomeli has been filling in on an interim basis and conducting a search for the permanent choice. As part of the contract, Butler agrees to pay for his own public retired contribution. Like Dunn, Butler will get a monthly $350 car allowance. In 2008, he worked in Pomona as the assistant to the city manager; he has also served as an administrative officer in Ontario’s housing agency and former redevelopment agency. He spent a little more than four years in Chino as a senior management analyst where his main role was to handle the city’s finances. Butler is slated to start on Sept. 29.
Additionally, According to a recent poll, residents would not support tax measures on the November ballot. The interim city manager, told the City Council early last July about the decision not to move forward on the sales tax or business license tax measures. In a memo to the council members,hei told them he would not recommend any further consideration of the measures. The council had until Aug. 8 to decide if it wanted to place an initiative on the November general election ballot. The council was considering the ballot imitative at the recommendation of its 10-member Upland Fiscal Task Force. The committee had been tapped to identify the provisions — out of 47 — that could help generate up to $7 million in savings to the city’s general fund. In January, the task force outlined 22 items, including looking at ways to create new revenue for the city. Earlier this year, Upland retained The Lew Edwards Group to conduct a survey of residents to see if they would support either measure. From June 21 to June 28, residents were asked to give their input on a series of issues, such as the sales tax increase as well as the city services they value. The report from the firm does not indicate how many residents participated in the poll. The firm is asking the city to wait for a future election when there is more opportunity to engage the community further on its services, fiscal situation, and management, the reports states. Results of the poll were based on a fairly complicated 75-word ballot question asked of participants. It asked residents about providing emergency funding to stave off bankruptcy. Only 53 percent of those polled approved a 1 percent sales tax increase; while 58 percent said they would support a half-cent measure. A city needs 2/3 voter approval for passage of measures such as this.