Want to find out what the five top occupations are in Azusa? How about the percentage of businesses in Rosemead that have 50 to 99 employees? Or the median household income for residents living in West Covina? Welcome to the SGV Economic PowerSite. The Website promotes area real estate and offers demographic data. The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership unveiled the interactive website on Aug. 25. It’s designed to promote the region’s commercial real estate economy and provide demographic and business resources to investors, site selectors and brokers. The site is designed to be manipulated to give you exactly what you want. You can go to any address in any city and look at a particular radius from that address and get all kinds of information—like how many employees area businesses have and income levels of people within that radius. You can also see where people spend their money and how much they spend. The SGV Economic PowerSite can be accessed by going to the partnership’s website at . Click on the large magnifying glass and icons for 25 of the region’s 31 cities will appear. Those are member cities that pay an annual fee to access the partnership’s services. For example, when a user clicks on Glendora they’ll immediately see that it has a population of 51,137, a median home value of $549,200, and a median household income of $75,682. Delving deeper, the database reveals that 20.4 percent of the city’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 11.7 percent have a graduate degree. The website also shows that retail, education, health care and social services, accommodation and food services, and additional services that include repair, personal care and laundry services, rank as the city’s top industries for jobs. The data will be useful for businesses looking to expand or move into a city. The technology for the website was provided by GIS Planning Inc., a San Francisco-based company that specializes in creating economic databases for cities. The website updates itself every three months and the economic information on businesses is updated every three months. Another major feature allows cities to upload their key opportunity sites that they want to see action on. Every city has vacant buildings and vacant storefronts. The property listings are right there with maps and photos. The site provides anyone with interest in a particular city to know about every business in that city.
The Azusa Planning Commission has asked the developer of a proposed mixed-use project in the city’s Rosedale community to revamp its plan. During a commission meeting on Aug. 24, residents and some members of the commission expressed concerns about a gate that would be installed at the main entrance to the pedestrian-friendly Promenade area of Rosedale near the APU/Citrus Gold Line station. Others had issues with commercial businesses facing away from the Promenade. Brookfield Residential Inc. submitted a plan to the city for the 6.6-acre site that would include 109 townhome condos, a transit park plaza and a 10,000-square-foot commercial building with 44 parking spaces. Christopher Homes and Rosedale Land Partners, master developer of the 1,250-home planned community, said the gates would keep unwanted motorists out of the area. The Planning Commission noted that Mountain Cove; a community up Highway 39, is a gated community and at one time had the highest crime rate in the city. The Planning Commission also noted that gated communities tend to divide the community and Azusa prides itself on being a very united city. The Planning Commission will revisit the issue in the future and take in all of the resident concerns and comments. When completed, the Rosedale community will include about 1,250 homes and 200 acres of open space. About 1,000 homes have been completed to date, and Holman expects that all of the remaining homes will be built over the next two years.
After two years at the helm of Baldwin Park City Hall, City Manager Shannon Yauchzee is getting a raise. The City Council voted 3-2 in favor of the 8 percent salary increase. Yauchzee, who became the city’s chief executive officer in July 2014, will now receive an annual base salary of $218,780, according to city documents. The new salary is effective retroactive to Aug. 3, when the council unanimously approved the raise in closed session. Yauchzee was hired after the council placed former CEO Vijay Singhal on a six-month paid leave of absence in December 2013. He previously led the Public Works Department in West Covina where he was a candidate for city manager. Yauchzee said in an email that during his tenure in Baldwin Park the city has increased its general fund reserve by more than $2 million, reduced a projected budget deficit by $1.4 million and entered an agreement with Caltrans to construct a freeway community identifier at no cost to Baldwin Park, among other things.
More than 8,400 people applied to be placed on the Baldwin Park Housing Authority waiting list for the low-income housing program, commonly called Section 8. The agency opened the list in early August for the first time in 13 years. Through a random lottery system run by a third-party vendor, 2,000 of those applicants were placed on the wait list for Section 8 vouchers. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and provides housing subsidies for families whose household incomes, depending on family size, are less than 50 percent of the median income in Los Angeles County. The Baldwin Park program is allocated 880 vouchers each year, but because housing costs are high, the agency usually does not have enough funding to support that many families, causing a delay in service. It has taken more than 10 years to free up vouchers for the more than 3,000 families placed on the 2003 wait list. Similarly, the Long Beach Housing Authority opened its wait list for the first time in 13 years this summer. Nearly 19,000 people applied.
In Baldwin Park, those selected for the 2016 wait list hail from all over the San Gabriel Valley and across the country. Because the program is federally-funded, anyone can apply for a voucher, though veterans and local residents are given preference. The housing authority will notify those selected and explain the next steps in an email next week. Anyone who applied can check online at http://www.waitlistcheck.com to see whether they were placed on the list. For more information, applicants can call the housing authority at 626-869-7500.
Acting on safety concerns, Chino leaders decided recently to regulate the sale of high-grade, flammable butane, which is used in manufacturing a potent form of hash oil, also known as honey oil.
The regulation doesn’t impact legal use of butane for barbecuing, cooking torches or cigar lighters. But it will control the sale of high-grade butane used by illegal marijuana labs—which have been found in hotel rooms, garages, homes and backyards—to illegally manufacture honey oil, a street drug. The new law, which the Chino City Council approved Aug. 16, limits the sale in large quantities of n-butane and butane that is refined five times or higher. A customer would not be able to buy more than 1,200 milliliters of butane, per transaction. It additionally requires retailers to keep logs of all butane sales “cumulatively or individually” amounting to greater than 600 milliliters in a single transaction. Retailers must report to code and police authorities any such sale, as well as the name, address and verified government-issued photo identification of the buyer and keep such information in their files for at least one year. In recent years, many California cities and counties have seen a significant uptick in the illegal manufacturing of butane honey oil made from marijuana, Comstock said, which corresponds to increased dangers for the public as well as police officers, firefighters and other rescue personnel.
After receiving a grant of more than $400,000 in June, the city of Claremont is in the beginning stages of using the funds to develop a swath of land directly south of the railroad tracks. The project, dubbed the Indian Hill Corridor Specific Plan—formerly called the Village South Specific Plan—currently encompasses 17 acres of land, stretching from Arrow Highway north, to Santa Fe Street and Bucknell Avenue on the west, to the east side of Indian Hill, according to the grant proposal. The plan was set in motion after the city received a $418,000 grant from Metro on June 30. The grant, which was submitted by the city in 2015, is for “transit-oriented development” near the future location of the Metro Gold Line, a proposed extension of the light rail service through Claremont that, pending the passage of Measure R2, could be completed by 2023. Similar to the Village Expansion Plan (VESP), the plan calls for pedestrian-friendly development that would encourage foot traffic on both sides of the tracks. The grant proposal, which was submitted to Metro in 2014, emphasizes that the funds for the project will “increase the utilization of public transit given the close proximity of the project site to the Claremont Intermodal Transit Center.” The plan will also include safety mechanisms at the railroad crossings so that pedestrians can safely travel back and forth. Much of the area is zoned commercial-professional, which would most likely change when development kicks in. According to the initial grant proposal, there are three different zoning districts within the site—business-industrial, commercial-highway and commercial-professional.
The city of Diamond Bar is making amendments to their General plan, according to the city website, and seeking individuals to be appointed to the Diamond bar General Plan Advisory Committee. You have until Sept. 15 to apply, according to website release. The Diamond Bar City Council is accepting applications from individuals interested in being considered for appointment to the newly-created Diamond Bar General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC), according to the site.
What is the General Plan?
This is Diamond Bar’s guide for the future social, physical, and economic development of the City, according to statements on the city’s website. It is a long-term document consisting of written text and diagrams that expresses how a community should develop over time, and it is a key tool for influencing the quality of life. It specifies locations for new businesses and residences, roads, parks, and other public infrastructure. The plan is a basis for land use decision-making used by policymakers such as the Planning Commission and the City Council. Each city and county in California is required by law to have a general plan document. Those documents can be revised every 20 to 25 years. Diamond Bar last updated its general plan in 1995. The Diamond Bar GPAC is a volunteer ad hoc advisory committee whose purpose is to make recommendations to the Planning Commission and City Council on a variety of uses related to the update of the city’s General Plan. Member tasks include reviewing research and analysis, identifying issues, visions and key policies, and providing advice and input into the plan. The Diamond Bar City Council’s goal is that these committee members be diverse in age, gender, background, experience and interests, but that they share the common, community-wide, long-term vision and perspective to city growth and development over the next 20 to 25 years. The term for members would be approximately three years, long enough for the General Plan Update process. A series of nine meetings would be involved. Members must be at least 16 years of age, and either live, operate a business, or have a proven record of community service in Diamond Bar, according to the website release. The prospective GPAC member application, along with additional information about the Diamond Bar General Plan Update, is available on the City website at: http://www.diamondbarca.gov/generalplan. Applications may also be picked up at City Hall (21810 Copley Drive) and Diamond Bar Center (1600 Grand Ave.), or requested by mail by calling the Diamond Bar City Clerk’s Office at (909) 839-7010, according to release. Completed applications are due back to the Diamond Bar City Clerk’s Office no later than Thursday, Sept. 15.
Not one but three state and federally protected species—and the potential that 11 more sensitive species might be there—stand in the way of a proposed hillside development of 18 homes, along with the removal of 176 coastal live oak trees in a biologically sensitive quadrant of the San Gabriel Valley foothills. Since late May, when a draft Environmental Impact Report was released, until early August when the comment period closed, ZH Glendora LLC’s project, part of the Gordon-Mull property, has generated about 40 written objections. These were sent from residents, state resource agencies, nonprofit environmental groups and Native American tribes that list numerous reasons why the project may violate state environmental laws using categories delineated in the California Environmental Quality Act. The list includes: the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Glendora Community Conservancy, the Elder Creek Ecological Preserve, the California Wildlife Foundation, Pasadena Audubon Society, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. Of the 40 or so responses to the EIR, all were opposed to the project or at least wanted the developer to draft a new environmental document to address their concerns. The thread-leafed brodiaea (brodiaea filifolia), a spindly stemmed plant with a purple flower, leads the list. The plant is quite rare, listed as a federally endangered species. Also, the cactus wren is a state-listed sensitive species and the California gnatcatcher, a federally listed bird, round out the top three. The following habitats, listed as sensitive communities by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, occur in the following proportions within the 41.4 acres: 2.6 acres of coast live oak woodland; 0.1 acre of purple needlegrass grasslands; 0.1 acre of coast prickly pear scrub; 0.9 acres of blue elderberry stands and 0.1 acre of California walnut woodland, according to the EIR. In an attempt to clear the hurdle that CEQA presents, the limited partnership, headed by business partner Derek Ng, has proposed mitigating measures that include planting two oaks seedlings for every tree removed and repairing ailing lands elsewhere such as in the Puente Hills in the same proportions damaged by the development within the project area. The owner is asking for a grading permit that would allow for building paved roads and 18 concrete pads for what may be two-story homes; one plot will be turned into a 1.34-acre park because it is unbuildable due to an earthquake fault.
The objections fill up hundreds of pages of letters written in response to the draft subsequent EIR. Copies of some of the letters obtained by the local newspaper but otherwise not made public can be summed up as follows:
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in a nine-page letter dated Aug. 5, wrote the project would result in the trampling of the endangered thread-leaved brodiaea. In 2009, a biologist filed a report identifying 49 plants in the three groups, mostly on two lots, Lots 14 and 15. The EIR only mentions findings of one plant in 2013, seven in 2014 and eight in 2015. The fewer findings are the result of drought years and do not adequately represent the population. The agency concludes the project could do more harm to the plants than even what the EIR concludes.
- The CDFW points out that the report fails to mention the cactus wren’s designation of “species of special concern.” The state agency says the project identified 16.4 acres of wren habitat, of which 40 percent “will be impacted.”
- The project is potentially home to several species of bats and the EIR doesn’t address what could happen to them. Some bat species are endangered, such as the Townsend’s big-eared bat. The CDFW recommends surveying for bats by a bat specialist to determine their numbers and if found, identify ways to protect them.
- The Kizh Tribe, a native American group, said they are opposed to the EIR’s recommendations on how to handle ancient Kizh human burials that may be found on the property.
- Removal of 176 oak trees will add to the emissions of greenhouse gases, according to the California Wildlife Foundation. The group recommends planting of five oaks for every one destroyed.
- The Sierra Club’s 37-page letter hits on numerous topics, including obstruction of views of the foothills from “many areas of the city.” The group says the EIR lacks a conservation alternative, i.e., selling the land to a conservancy for preservation of oak woodlands and other habitat, as well as the thread-leaved brodiaea, “the official flower of the city.”
The city will provide a written response to each concern raised. The letters and responses will be incorporated into a final EIR expected to be released in a few months. It needs approval of the Glendora City Council before the project can move forward.
The City of Industry likely violated the state’s open meetings law by allowing the advisor appointed to oversee the city’s reforms to participate in closed session discussions, according to open government experts. The city’s independent reform advisor, former California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, sat in on at least two meetings. But Industry officials would not disclose which topics he offered his advice on. City Attorney Jamie Casso said Lockyer, a member of the State Bar of California, attended the meetings as a private attorney and was covered by attorney-client privilege. Lockyer’s contract lists him as a consultant with a limited scope of services related solely to the city’s reform efforts. According to Casso, the city is fully compliant with the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state law governing how local bodies should handle their official meetings. Terry Francke, of the open government advocacy group Californians Aware, disagreed. He noted that previous attorneys general held the opinion that closed sessions must only include people who are essential to the purpose of the meeting. Californians Aware assert that Mr. Lockyer’s presence is not essential to whatever the discussion or decision is and therefore the Brown Act prevents his presence. Another former California attorney general, John Van De Kamp, who serves as the independent reform monitor for the city of Vernon near downtown Los Angeles, said he has never sat in on closed session and would not feel comfortable doing so. Van De Kamp, who served as attorney general prior to Lockyer, said he could see why there may be benefits to having an outsider sitting in on the otherwise closed meetings. Still, it sounds like a “technical violation” of the law, he said. Lockyer’s $25,000 a month contract notes that “tasks other than those specifically described in the Scope of Services shall not be performed without prior written approval by the City.” That “Scope of Services” includes addressing a recent state controller’s audit; investigating the independence of the housing commission; and looking into the city council’s compensation limits and competitive bidding practices. Lockyer is required to report publicly and quarterly on those topics. In his first report on Aug. 18, Lockyer stated his involvement in open and closed session allowed him to see “elected officials who are familiar with large amounts of briefing materials, who ask probing questions, who work at developing consensus.” If the city is in violation, it would only need to stop including Lockyer in the meetings to return to compliance. State law allows a complainant or the district attorney’s office to file suit against a body that refuses to fix the violation within 90 days of receiving a written demand to do so. The lawsuit could void decisions made during meetings that violated the law.
The Sheriff’s Industry Station is warning residents about a fake parking citation scam in the city. The fake tickets with the name and logo of the city of La Puente have been placed on the windshields of parked vehicles, authorities said in a written statement. Residents are directed to send their fine payments to a P.O. Box in New Orleans, Louisiana. The fake tickets also include an out-of-state telephone number, officials said. If your vehicle has received a fictitious parking ticket, you are urged to call the Industry Station and the La Puente Special Assignment Team’s Deputy Holly or Deputy Arguelles at 626-330-3322, Ext. 3061. If you would like to remain anonymous, you may contact “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org.
The city has submitted to the state evidence that it has enough water for the next three years. When the State Water Resources Control Board signs off on that, the La Verne City Council is poised to suspend the extra charges for water users who overindulge. The City of La Verne and State Water Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus warn that conservation must still be practiced because the drought plaguing the state for four years, although less severe, is not over entirely. It was urged that residents need to keep conserving and work on more efficient practices, like keeping lawns on a water diet or transitioning away from them. City staff told council members in early August that the city has more than met its 30 percent reduction of water usage based on 2013 consumption levels, a mandate imposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board in April 2015. At that time, the governor issued an executive order to reduce water use and restrict what users could do with water. The city, which operates its own water services, allowed 22,000 gallons per two-month billing period for residential customers. It also required commercial and industrial properties to reduce their water use by 30 percent of their 2013 consumption levels. It was noted that La Verne has done much to reduce water consumption including:
- Removing turf from Los Flores, Wheeler, Oak Mesa, Mills and Emerald parks and from street medians on Arrow Highway and White Avenue
- Installing drought-tolerant landscaping at City Hall and Fire Station No. 3 on Esperanza Drive
- Replacing traditional turf with artificial turf at the city yard
- Creating a demonstration garden at Fire Station No. 2 on Wheeler Avenue, where residents could go and get ideas for drought-tolerant plants they can buy at local nurseries
In May 2016, Gov. Brown signed another executive order allowing the state to adjust water conservation levels for cities that have met the previously-established goals and which can ensure a three-year water supply. La Verne gets 75 percent of its water from the Metropolitan Water District, which assures us there is sufficient supply to meet the city’s needs, and 25 percent of the city’s water comes from its own well system. La Verne is asking all residential, commercial and industrial customers to promote and encourage heavy conservation.
QVC, the home shopping network, opened its first West Coast distribution center on Aug. 29 with a ceremony at the Ontario property. The 1-million-square-foot QVC warehouse was filled with a sea of empty shelving racks Monday, but trucks bringing inventory had arrived and officials expected to begin shipping product out from Ontario this week. They expect to ramp up the operation by the holiday shopping season. The new facility should shrink delivery times up to four days, according to QVC officials. QVC, which sells goods through its home shopping cable television channel and online website, occupies Building 7 at the newly constructed Meredith International Centre. QVC said it would employ about 500 people by 2018, and 1,000 by 2020. QVC, short for “quality, value and convenience,” has never had a West Coast distribution center, with the last one opening in Florence, S.C., in 2007. The building will handle distribution of all of QVC’s product lines for the western United States. The seven-building Meredith International Centre is expected to bring as many as 2,000 new employees to Ontario. With its new Ontario distribution center, QVC joins other prominent online retailers that have established operations in the Inland Empire. Amazon has eight California-based fulfillment centers; most are in the Inland Empire.
The city will make lockers available to the homeless as part of a settlement to resolve a lawsuit complaining that Pomona police officers and city officials regularly confiscated and discarded their belongings. Lawyers representing 15 Pomona homeless residents, who filed a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles Federal Court in March, said Tuesday they settled with the city, with Judge Manuel L. Real signing off on the 17-page agreement Aug. 29.
Among the steps the city must take are:
- Honor homeless residents’ right to have 60 gallons of attended property, excluding bikes, wheelchairs, walkers and recyclables
- Fabricate and make available 388 60-gallon storage lockers free for homeless residents to store personal property
- Leave notice of where individuals can retrieve property collected and stored by the city because the property was left unattended
- Store all property collected under any circumstance for 90 days for free
- Provide semiannual reports on the state of its efforts to end homelessness to plaintiffs’ counsel
- Not enforce its anti-camping and unauthorized-areas-to-sleep ordinances until the city has enough shelter beds, housing options or campgrounds sufficient to safely accommodate its homeless population.
The lawsuit alleged police, code enforcement officers and sanitation workers would seize personal property—including in two instances the ashes of dead relatives—without notice, and dispose of it when the law requires the city to store the items and give people the opportunity to recover their belongings. In April, the city and the lawyers with Public Counsel, a public interest law firm of the Los Angeles County and Beverly Hills bar associations, came to a temporary agreement to stop the seizures. It expired at the end of May. But lead attorney Christina Giorgio said the city did not resume its old ways and worked diligently to come up with a permanent solution. A count of the homeless population in January tallied 689 residents in Pomona without permanent homes, according the City of Pomona. The unsheltered population—the ones most visible—number 366. The lockers, to be built inside moveable shipping containers at a cost of about $100,000, can ebb and flow in size each year with the latest homeless counts. The settlement is “an important step of collaborating to address the impacts of people suffering homelessness on the community, while at the same time respecting civil rights,” said Pomona officials. The settlement agreement sets parameters for homeless residents’ personal property. They will be able to keep with them all personal items that can collectively fit into a 60-gallon container, what the agreement calls “attended property.” If they need more space, they may store another 60-gallon container’s worth of personal property in one of the storage lockers. Pomona calls them “transitional storage centers.” The city has not identified where the lockers will go. Besides the $100,000 cost to acquire them, the city will pay $100,000 annually to staff them.
A new 92-foot-high, eight-level, 46,800-square-foot storage facility for Frito-Lay will feature the latest in automated warehousing technology. Construction began in December 2014 and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of next year. The reason for the expansion is to co-locate some high-speed automated distribution systems at the manufacturing plant to increase efficiency and growth for Frito-Lay. The warehouse is so tall, Frito-Lay had to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to build it, not only because of its height but proximity to LA/Ontario International Airport. The Frito-Lay storage building is tall, but it’s not the tallest in the city. That honor goes to the Gerdau Steel Mill near Arrow Route and Etiwanda Avenue, which has furnaces reaching above 100 feet. Rancho Cucamonga’s is one of 40 Frito-Lay snack plants located throughout the United States and Canada. The local facility, which Frito-Lay characterized as a medium-sized plant, opened for operation in 1970. It’s owned and operated by the Dallas-based Frito-Lay North America, which oversees produce development and sales within the United States and Canada. Frito-Lay is the snack division of PepsiCo, based in Purchase, New York.
SOUTH EL MONTE
Luis Aguinaga submitted his letter of resignation as mayor Aug. 9, two weeks after he signed an agreement to plead guilty to soliciting and accepting bribes. Two weeks prior, the United States Attorney’s Office announced that Aguinaga had signed the plea agreement saying he will plead guilty to a federal bribery charge. The mayor accepted at least $45,000 in bribes from an un-named city contractor for seven years, according to the plea agreement. Upon pleading guilty, Aguinaga will face a maximum of 10 years in federal prison. In 2012, undercover FBI agents observed a meeting between Aguinaga and the contractor, and the FBI provided $2,000 to be used in the exchange, the plea agreement said. Aguinaga took half of the bribe money and left the other half for an unnamed “city public official,” according to the agreement. The official has not been named or come forward.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Aug. 9 to send letters to State Controller Betty Yee and State Auditor Elaine Howle to investigate the city’s handling and use of public funds and any improper governmental activities by South El Monte employees, respectively. Aguinaga’s resignation ends his seven-year tenure as mayor, which is a separately elected position. He had been a member of the City Council since 2003. Neither the City Council nor the mayor is subject to term limits in South El Monte. Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Olmos has been acting as mayor since news of Aguinaga’s plea agreement became public.
The scandal caused Anthony Ybarra, who had been with the city for more than a decade, to announce his resignation on Aug. 23 at the end of the City Council meeting, according to city officials. Mayor Pro Tem Gloria Olmos said Ybarra’s resignation did not come as a surprise. Two audits, including one by a firm hired by South El Monte last year, criticized the management of the city and, among other things, singled out its relationship with certain consultants. Gonzales and Olmos had demanded that Ybarra step down, saying his management made the bribery scandal possible. Ybarra said that he was resigning due to health reasons. Ybarra will continue to receive a monthly stipend until December. He will receive medical benefits through January.
Last September the town’s independent auditor sent a 15-page letter to the council members, raising concerns about the “city’s purchasing function, relationships with certain consultants and the contract monitoring process.” The letter stated that the same issues were raised before and had not been “fully corrected by the city’s management.” The auditor advised the city to conduct an investigation into its internal controls. An audit released in June found that South El Monte’s city manager—acting without council approval—authorized a series of contracts and payments involving the town’s grant-writing and engineering firms. The auditors found Ybarra had approved three contracts and authorized payments of $110,000 to Arroyo Strategy Group, which provided grant-writing services. Among other issues, the auditors said that Arroyo did not have a physical office and that it did not keep any records, such as time sheets, to justify the work it was doing. In one case, auditors said the city manager had used a city credit card to pay for airline tickets and hotel expenses for Arroyo employees. The firm later submitted a reimbursement for the expenses. Auditors also learned that the city manager had approved a contract with ECM Group Inc., which provided engineering services to the city, and authorized payments of $29,376. But a review of ECM’s billing records revealed that employees were submitting false time and billing reports to the city, according to the audit. In one example, auditors noted that one employee claimed to have put in more than 20 hours a day on several occasions while he worked on a project, including 27 hours in one day. Another employee claimed to have worked on city business “for 70 hours during a four-day period,” which meant she would have worked 17.5 hours a day for four consecutive days. Auditors also said they found that contracts were frequently altered and were never put up for competitive bidding. The city has since terminated its contract with ECM and Arroyo, according to auditors.
A pathway for a total ban of marijuana-related activities in the city has been set and could be approved by the council as soon as next month. Upland’s Planning Commission voted 6-1 on Aug. 24 in favor of the total ban. Commissioner Shelly Verrinder was the lone dissenting vote.
With the commission signing off on the ordinance, the total ban is now set to be reviewed by the City Council, which doesn’t meet again until Sept. 12. The ban would become effective 30 days after it is approved. City leaders have stated their desire to have this ordinance in place before the November election—when voters across the state may approve the use of recreational marijuana–and to close any loopholes in its existing ban. If it does, it will join a host of neighboring cities, as well as San Bernardino County, that have taken similar action. The city’s municipal code currently bans medical marijuana dispensaries and mobile dispensaries. Before the commission will be a proposal to explicitly ban cultivating, dispensing, transporting, distributing, processing, labeling and testing.
The proposed ordinance would help the city regulate marijuana if the state measure passes. Permanent regulations by the state aren’t expected to be enacted until 2018. Although the commission was only expected to take up zoning and land issues related to the ordinance, the discussion from commissioners varied and delved into the impacts of a total ban.
West Covina could purchase additional park land before voters decide in November whether the city should sell a 2.85 acre park to a local hospital under a new agreement approved by the City Council Aug. 16. The agreement with Citrus Valley Health Partners gives the hospital group the right to purchase Sunset Field if voters approve the ballot measure deciding the fate of the park. In exchange, the city will get a $500,000 advance on the $3.9 million the group has offered for the property. If the ballot measure fails, the city will repay the loan without interest by Dec. 31. The park, which includes two baseball diamonds and a bathroom facility, is landlocked between Walnut Creek, an apartment complex and Citrus Valley’s Queen of the Valley Hospital, and can only be accessed through the hospital parking lot. Citrus Valley wants to use the Sunset Field land to expand the hospital to include a new 60-bed emergency department, a 10-bed operating room and 36-bed intensive and critical care units. The proposal has been described as a “win-win situation” by city officials, who say the current park is underutilized and difficult to access. The city has not received any “written protest” to the idea, according to a staff report.