The January Cities Report includes the State of the State news, followed by local cities in the San Gabriel Valley.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
AB 139. AB 139, which passed 78-0 in the Assembly and 40-0 in the Senate, creates a new, non-probate method for conveying real property upon death through a revocable transfer upon death deed. It creates a simple way for people to transfer their home (or one-to-four unit investment properties) upon their death–without having to pay for a living trust or have it all sorted out in probate court.
There is a benefit to many Californians, because in this state, without a trust the estate is handled through the court system. That can take a year or more. The average cost of probate is more than $26,000, which can eat away an inheritance and leave one’s heirs many months of difficulties. The new form, which already is popping up on county websites, is one page. You write down the parcel number and the name of the owner (grantor) and the people who inherit the property and their relationship to the owner. It must be signed by a notary. The law includes provisions to deal with the potential for coercion. For instance, it provides a means to challenge a questionable transfer. The deed can be revoked at any time.
Twenty-five other states have similar laws, with few obvious problems arising from them. The new law will be of particular benefit to Californians whose estates consists primarily – or even exclusively – of the family home. Here is a link to the new form: http://www.lavote.net/documents/Revocable_Transfer_on_Death_Deed.pdf
Here is a link to the primer and commonly asked questions: http://www.lavote.net/documents/Revocable_Transfer_on_Death_Deed_FAQ.pdf
After several years of contemplating the future for 201 acres of mountainside property above Azusa, the city is ready to assume ownership. Before signing any documents, though, city officials are working with two local conservancies about restoring the property, which contains the city’s signature letter “A” and a portion of the now-closed Garcia Trail.
Owned by Rosedale Land Partners, the land was slated to be donated to the Southwest Resource Management Association in September, but the deal fell through after the City Council expressed reservations. City officials discussed the property transfer with the developer and both conservancies in a closed-session meeting.
The property is located directly above the Rosedale development, a 1,250-home community on the north end of the city. Azusa has the first right to accept the 201 acres of land as part of the development agreement signed in 2004 with Monrovia Nursery Co. Rosedale Land Partners assumed control of the development project in 2010. RLP attempted to transfer the deed twice, in August 2011 and October 2012, but the city declined both times.
Questions of property ownership resurfaced after the 2014 Colby Fire burned the “A” and the Garcia Trail was destroyed. About the same time, RLP began talks with a conservancy in Riverside about the land. When the City Council learned the property was in escrow in September, it stepped in. City officials were uncomfortable with entrusting the property to an agency based outside of the San Gabriel Valley. The city intends to retain ownership and seek out a local conservancy to restore and maintain the land on behalf of the city.
Since September, officials have been in talks with the Watershed Conservation Authority and the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy about the property. Both conservancies’ offices are located on the other side of the ridge line, at the site of the old El Encanto restaurant off of Highway 39. The watershed agency has been working on a master plan to turn the site into a 70-acre wilderness park at the entrance to San Gabriel Canyon, where the city of Azusa meets the Angeles National Forest.
Rosedale is ready to turn the parcel of land over to the city. The city hopes to have a deal finalized within 90 days, at which time the item would be brought before the City Council for approval.
What was otherwise a civil and celebratory City Council meeting in December ended with a bitter squabble over who should lead the governing body in the absence of Mayor Manuel Lozano. For the past decade, Baldwin Park has followed a rotation that allows each of the four council members to be mayor pro tempore once every four years, regardless of their tenure. But on Wednesday, December 16, after a dispute over whether the rotation should be dictated by seniority, the council appointed Councilwoman Monica Garcia to serve as mayor pro tem, skipping Councilwoman Susan Rubio, who served her first and last mayor pro tem term in 2012.
At the start of the reorganization discussion, outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Cruz Baca read the names of the previous 10 mayor pro tems from a staff report and nominated Rubio for the job in 2016. In 2013, Garcia served as mayor pro tem. She was followed in 2014 by Councilman Ricardo Pacheco. Baca, the newest member of the council, was selected to the job in December 2014. Garcia said she thought it made more sense to appoint Pacheco to the position because he is the most senior member of the council. While the selection process recommended by staff said a second was not required for the nominations and that a roll call vote would be taken for each nomination in the order they were made, Lozano killed the nomination for Rubio because of a lack of a second. Lozano then seconded Garcia’s nomination to appoint Pacheco, who, after a slight pause, voted no.
Baca and Rubio also voted no to appoint Pacheco, defeating the nomination in a 3-2 vote. From there, Lozano made the third and final nomination possible and Garcia was appointed in a 3-2 vote, with Baca and Rubio again voting no.
El Monte has joined dozens of other California cities in banning smoking in apartment buildings to reduce the effects of secondhand smoke on residents. The City Council on Tuesday, December 15, unanimously agreed to ban smoking in both apartment and condominium buildings with three or more attached units—amounting to 9,000 homes, or roughly 30 percent of all homes in the city. It generally blocks smoking of cigarettes, pipes and e-cigarettes in individual units, including balconies, and indoor and outdoor common areas, but landlords can designate smoking areas under specific guidelines. The ordinance, phased-in over 18 months, will be enforced through private legal action.
More than 30 other cities in California have adopted similar bans, including Baldwin Park, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Compton, Culver city, Glendale, Santa Monica and Huntington Park. City staff cited a report by the U.S. Surgeon General that concluded smoke from a unit in an apartment building can seep into adjoining units through shared air spaces or shared ventilation systems. The study concluded that eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers. It also cites a study by the National Academy of Sciences finding that particulate matter from tobacco smoke forms a residue, sometimes called third-hand smoke, that is absorbed into porous surfaces such as carpeting. Other studies have found the residue can contain carcinogenic materials when slowly released.
Only about 7 percent of apartment building residents in El Monte smoke, according to a poll of 352 residents in 2013 and 2014 by the non-profit Smokefree Air for Everyone. About one-third of the residents said they had secondhand smoke drift into their homes in the previous year. More than 90 percent of them said the smoke came from outside and about half said it came from another unit, according to the poll.
Prime Healthcare Services announced that it has donated Glendora Community Hospital (formerly East Valley Hospital), a 128-bed bed acute care hospital located in Glendora, California, to the Prime Healthcare Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity. The hospital was donated free of any existing debt. The move will allow Glendora Community Hospital to broaden its reach in the community, and continue to serve all members of the East San Gabriel Valley and beyond in a compassionate and caring manner.
The Prime Healthcare Foundation, founded by Dr. Prem Reddy and his family in 2008, is dedicated to improving access to healthcare and increasing educational opportunities in healthcare. The Foundation has donated millions of dollars to support free community clinics, non-profit organizations, scholarships and academic programs in healthcare. Including Glendora Community Hospital, the Foundation owns and operates eight hospitals in California and Texas. The hospitals were all donated to the Foundation debt free and have transformed into successful community assets. The Foundation maintains net assets of more than $700 million dollars, entirely donated by Dr. Reddy.
With an initial contribution of $40 million, the Prime Healthcare Foundation is also supporting a new not-for-profit medical school, the California University of Science and Medicine, in San Bernardino County.
A local real estate development company has announced it is no longer pursuing plans to build homes in Marshall Canyon, near the city of La Verne, after city leaders came out in opposition to the plan.
Although the developer, Upland-based Lewis Group of Companies, was at the start of what could have been a long, complicated process involving swapping its interest in Sierra La Verne Country Club with the county-owned Marshall Canyon Golf Course, on which it would then build homes, La Verne City Council members decided they wanted to take a stand. While Marshall Canyon is just outside city limits, the plan was to annex it to the city of La Verne. Meanwhile, the county would have taken over operations at Sierra La Verne. The city sent a letter Dec. 8 to Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who represents the area, explaining it formally opposed development in Marshall Canyon. Mayor Don Kendrick asked the county to explore other options to ensure the continued operation of the golf course and the preservation of this valued recreational facility. The developer had planned to hold a series of meetings to solicit input from the community.
After receiving the letter, Antonovich said anything Lewis would consider for Marshall Canyon is dead. He would not support anything that didn’t win majority support from nearby residents and La Verne’s council, he said. Los Angeles County has said that they will continue to operate the property as a golf course.
Hoping to spark a conversation about conservation, the city has opened a $3 million park that features drought-friendly California native plants, a children’s play garden, public art elements and an outdoor educational amphitheater.
In late December, the often unused south lawn of City Hall was transformed into Conservation Park, a 1.3-acre educational and recreational park. Several years ago Mark Chase, the community and public services director for Ontario, and his staff began looking for state grants to turn the space around. Having just received an eco-friendly LEED certification for City Hall following recent renovations, officials knew they wanted to extend those conservation efforts to the south lawn.
The effort coincides with the state’s record drought. The park has an outdoor amphitheater where a class of 30 students may learn about conservation and solar energy. At the southwest end of the park, a park bench becomes another learning tool: Public art on the back of the bench depicts the phases of the moon. In the same area is an interactive sundial.
Conservation Park is located at 303 E. B St., Ontario. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact John Worden of the Ontario Museum of History & Art at 909-395-2515.
SingerLewak LLP, a full-service accounting, tax and business consulting firm with strong national presence and a half-century history serving clients in various industry sectors, announced it is combining with Jeffery, Corrigan & Shaw, LLP, a leading middle-market accounting firm serving a variety of client industries and sectors.
This combination will give SingerLewak presence in the surrounding areas of Pomona, Inland Empire and augment its current Orange County practice. Jeffery, Corrigan & Shaw, LLP will become SingerLewak, LLP and will continue to operate at its current location, 716 Corporate Center Drive, Pomona, CA 91768.
The Cucamonga Valley Water District has partnered with Nestlé Waters North America Inc. to construct a new groundwater treatment project that officials say will increase local water supplies.
The company has an Arrowhead water bottling plant in nearby Ontario and has purchased spring water from a district canyon source since the early 2000s. The cost of the project is estimated to be $4.7 million, of which Nestlé Waters has pledged $1 million over the next eight years, officials said. CVWD will be responsible for managing, constructing and operating the project.
The groundwater treatment project will take place at an existing well site within CVWD’s service area, according to the CVWD. The project is expected to produce an additional 237 million gallons of available clean drinking water in the area each year. The project will remove nitrates from water at a district reservoir site near 19th Street and Sapphire Avenue. The wells that would be treated by the new plant have a combined output of 7,400 acre feet annually.
Nestlé Waters has been a long-time customer of CVWD’s spring water. Since 2005, the company has sponsored CVWD’s educational Environmental Learning Center, which provides resources to teachers and hands-on activities for local children, and is a supporter of CVWD’s annual Kids Environmental Festival, Earth Day, poster contest and internships.
A pilot program joining Upland and Montclair fire departments command staff has been renewed for another two years. Officials backed the program, allowing fire staff to further explore ways the program can be improved. A study will be conducted to identify any other opportunities for fiscal savings and improve the effectiveness of the operations. Officials hope to glean from the study the best governance for the program. The model could stay the same, with two separate cities overseeing operations, or through the creation of a joint powers authority.
The program started in 2014, resulting in a unified command staff. It also dropped service boundary lines between the two cities, to allow the closest engine to an emergency to respond to incidents in either city. As part of the pilot program, a two-year strategic plan was developed, and identified numerous objectives that would be implemented in four phases. For now, the best option is for the cities to each fund one deputy fire chief position and share costs of a third deputy chief.
Since the launch of the pilot program, the shared staffing has been utilized thousands of times and has undoubtedly saved lives by getting the closest unit there. The city can opt out of the contract any point as long as it gives Montclair six months notice, or 30 days if there is cause for termination.
The cities share four positions, and splits compensation costs for Fire Chief Paul Segalla, who serves as fire chief for both departments. Upland pays 60 percent of the chief’s compensation, while Montclair’s share is 40 percent. Upland and Montclair share a fire marshal, administrative assistant, and emergency services coordinator, with Upland paying 67 percent and Montclair paying 33 percent for those positions.
West Covina is prepared to update its long-term development plan this year after more than a year of planning and community outreach. The general plan, which was last revised in 1985, is required by state law and serves as a blueprint for future development.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, at a joint meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission, city staff and a representative from consultant company Rangwala Associates presented a draft of the plan and a supplementary document focused on creating a vibrant downtown area. At the meeting, the council gave staff the green light to begin drafting an Environmental Impact Report for the plan and initiate a code amendment for the zoning components of the downtown document. The plan and the EIR will come back to the council later this year for adoption.
Here are five takeaways from the drafted documents:
• The update is focused on directing the majority of new growth in the downtown district, which is framed by the 10 Freeway to the north, Cameron Avenue to the west, South Glendora Avenue to the east and West Covina Parkway to the south. The district contains three distinct centers, including the Civic Center, Lakes Entertainment area and the Plaza West Covina mall, and aims to better unify the three areas through pedestrian walkways and integrated transit.
• The plan projects the addition of 2,100 housing units, the majority of which would be in the plan’s designated downtown area. Kaizer Rangwala, of Rangwala Associates, called the housing projection a “downzoning” from current city code allowances, which would allow for roughly 5,000 units.
• Retail currently makes up roughly 23 percent of jobs in West Covina and 62 square feet per person—compared to a county average of 41 square feet per person—but declining sales tax revenues indicate a need to revamp the city’s retail sector.
• Another component of the plan focuses on enhancing the Walnut Creek Wash by creating a paved bike lane with park benches and trees along the water course. The proposal also includes the addition of lighting along the path to create “an intimate and secure place” in the city’s downtown area.
• While the Plaza West Covina mall is one of the main areas in the downtown district, the plan proposes little to no development for the commercial property. Planning Director Jeff Anderson said the mall is doing well financially right now, adding that it is possible the city will want to make an amendment to the plan regarding the mall in the future.