The city council unanimously adopted a resolution on Feb. 15 declaring the city a “sanctuary” for all residents, regardless of immigration status. Although “sanctuary” is not an official designation, cities across the country and the region, including La Puente, Pasadena and Los Angeles, have recently reaffirmed or adopted policies preventing local law enforcement from inquiring about people’s immigration status. Baldwin Park’s resolution prohibits employees in the police department and all other city departments from “inquiring into, maintaining or disclosing” residents’ immigration status or other sensitive information. The resolution also affirms the city’s commitment to prohibit the use of city resources to identify and detain any person “solely on the basis of a suspected violation of immigration law,” honor civil immigration detainers and provide federal authorities with non-publicly available information about any individual for immigration purposes. The majority-Latino city of about 78,000 receives upward of $8 million a year in federal grant dollars for various programs, including a summer lunch program and Section 8 housing subsidies for low-income families, according to city staff. The council also passed a resolution urging President Donald Trump and Congress to uphold the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides people who were brought to the country as children a temporary reprieve from deportation.
Thirty-six days after the city of Chino sought permission from the state to collect almost $16 million in loans it had made to its now-defunct redevelopment agency (RDA), the Department of Finance said “no.” The city council voted Jan. 17 to resubmit its request for reimbursement of about $15.9 million. The following day, the city’s request was approved by the committee established to oversee affairs of the RDA. The money represents 13 promissory notes issued by the RDA to the city from 1989 to 1994, along with accrued interest on those loans. The last time the city sought finance department approval to collect the money was Nov. 16, 2016. On Dec. 22, 2016, the department rejected the request on two grounds:
1 – The state had already rejected the request once before, on July 27, 2015
2 – The city had not proved that the promissory notes covered third-party contracts it had entered into on behalf of the RDA
Finance Director Rob Burns told the oversight committee that his staff has compiled approximately 600 pages documenting that the RDA projects were paid for by the city of Chino. The city’s RDA attorney suggested the debt be resubmitted to the Department of Finance, Mr. Burns said. When the state again denies the request, the city will be able to show that it has exhausted its options to resolve the disagreement administratively, and the way will be open to sue the state.
On Dec. 15, Southern California Edison energized 500 kv lines buried in Chino Hills, completing a 10-year undertaking known as the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project. Overhead lines were activated in Chino and Ontario, concluding the 173-mile project from Tehachapi wind farms south to the Mira Loma Substation in Ontario. Edison informed property owners in October that the lines would be energized in mid-November. The city of Chino Hills was informed the day after activation by Edison’s regional government affairs representative, Jennifer Menjivar-Shaw. The city of Chino Hills spent more than $5 million in legal fees battling the utility giant. In July 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered Edison to remove the 200-foot towers installed in 2011.
Judge Richard Fruin of the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled on Feb. 15 that Claremont is on the hook for $7.69 million that Golden State Water Company (GSW) has billed them, following Claremont’s loss in the eminent domain trail in December. The 12-page ruling adds to the city’s $6.1 million in existing legal fees to Best, Best & Krieger, for a grand total of around $13.5 million. The city filed an initial motion on Jan. 26 for a 50 percent reduction in GSW’s legal fees. Notably, the city attempted to minimize attorney’s hourly rates, which made up the bulk of total litigation costs to the tune of over $5.7 million. The city tried to reduce those fees by more than $1.4 million. The court ruled against the city, noting that their legal fee consultant, Brand Cooper, did not “persuade the court that he is sufficiently familiar with the complexity of this litigation and thus is aware of the knowledge and skills required of the trial attorneys,” according to the ruling. The court claimed that Mr. Cooper seemed unaware that this trial was the first of its kind in the state, and therefore the attorneys had to become acutely aware of not only Claremont’s water system and history, but also the history of La Verne’s water system, the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) regulations of Claremont’s rates, and the feasibility of Claremont issuing bonds to pay for the water system. The court also ruled against the city’s attempt to further reduce attorney’s fees by more than $1.1 million due to what Mr. Cooper asserted was redacted invoices and time entries. Mr. Cooper contended that he was unable to determine if those fees were for the trial or from related lawsuits involving Measure W in 2014 that were waived by GSW. The court also rejected Claremont’s request to reduce fees by $139,652 due to “clerical tasks,” noting that the attorneys had to create databases and file-sharing websites to manage and search documents involving the case. A possible reduction of $344,125 for “block billing,” meaning one bill for multiple tasks, was also rejected.
Without calling itself a “sanctuary city,” El Monte adopted rules on Feb. 7 preventing the use of city resources to aid federal immigration law enforcement, except in the case of threats to public safety. The city council voted 4-0, with Councilman Juventino Gomez absent due to illness, to adopt Resolution 9729, “declaring its commitment to the values of dignity, inclusivity and respect for all individuals, regardless of ethnic or national origin, gender, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or immigration status.” Many cities around the country have either declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants or reaffirmed their status following President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January. Mayor Andre Quintero, who introduced the resolution, said the term “sanctuary city” was not included because it has been used to “demonize the rights of our immigrant community.” El Monte, a city of about 115,000, is about 50 percent foreign-born, according to 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data. The goal of the new rules, Quintero said, is to give El Monte’s undocumented immigrant population the confidence to report crimes in the city without fear they will be reported to the federal government. The resolution bans city funds from being used “to investigate, question, detect, apprehend and/or register persons” whose only crime was violating federal immigration laws. And city workers will not be directed to aid in such investigations. El Monte police officers will be directed to cooperate with federal immigration agencies “only in matters involving criminal activity and the protection of public safety.” And city police will be ordered not to take any action against a person “solely on his or her immigration status.” The city also won’t hold anyone because of their immigration status, unless that person has been “convicted or charged of certain offenses or is a sex or arson registrant.” Also included in El Monte’ resolution was a rule saying the city will not use public resources to “honor any federal program” registering citizens based on their “religious affiliation, race, national or ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation.” El Monte does not currently aid federal immigration agents, Quintero said, and the resolution makes certain the city will not should the federal government request its aid. The resolution also directs the city to find ways to devote resources to programs and to join partnerships with sister agencies or nonprofit organizations providing aid to people “adversely affected or at risk of being affected” by directives coming out of the White House. Quintero said the city will look for ways to partner with organizations like the city of Los Angeles’ Office of Immigrant Affairs to educate locals about immigrant rights and the process to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. The resolution drew no comments from the public nor added comments from the other members of the city council. El Monte joins Pasadena and La Puente as cities declaring themselves sanctuaries in the San Gabriel Valley. The Montebello Unified, Alhambra Unified and Hacienda La Puente Unified school districts have also declared themselves sanctuaries or safe havens.
Amid calls from residents and local activists to support all minority groups, not just undocumented immigrants, the city council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution declaring the city a sanctuary for immigrants, people of color, religious minorities, LGBTQ people and people with disabilities. The resolution, presented by Councilman Argudo and several residents, states that city officials will not enforce federal immigration laws or use city resources to apprehend people “whose only violation is or may be a civil violation of immigration law.” It was approved by the council in a 4-0 vote. Councilman Dan Holloway was absent from the meeting. The resolution adopted by the council was one of two brought forward for consideration in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. The other resolution was aimed only at undocumented immigrants and was modeled after the sanctuary city resolution adopted in Cudahy. Many who spoke in favor of what they said was a more inclusive resolution said Trump has made them, their family, friends or students fearful of being deported, and that it was important for La Puente, which means “the bridge” in Spanish, to reach out to all communities that were targeted by the President during his campaign.
NGKF Capital Markets has completed the $78.5 million sale of Empire Towers I-IV, a four-building, 400,976-square-foot office campus in Ontario, CA. Located at 3633 and 4141 Inland Empire Blvd., and 3800 and 4200 Concours, the Class A property includes one nine-story building and three three-story buildings situated on 19.43 acres. Kevin Shannon, NGKF’s West Coast Capital Markets president; Executive Managing Director Ken White, Managing Director Michael Moore, and Senior Managing Director Brunson Howard represented the seller, a joint venture between CIP Real Estate and Guggenheim Partners. The buyer, Inland Empire-based MGR Services, was self-represented. David Milestone and Brett Green of NGKF Capital Markets secured the financing on behalf of MGR Services. The property is 88 percent leased to a diverse, multi-tenant rent roll, including Liberty Mutual, Wells Fargo, City National Bank, Merrill Lynch, and Allstate, among others. Built in 1991 to 2005, the seller substantially renovated the common areas of the property from 2014 to 2016. Empire Towers I-IV offers open, contemporary tenant spaces with modern finishes, efficient floor plates, and 10- to 12-foot ceilings. It provides immediate access to the 10, 15 and 210 freeways, as well as the Ontario International Airport.
Neighbors tired of the inconveniences that arise from living near Fairplex and officials who manage the fairgrounds came together on Feb. 13 to see if they could find common ground. The setting was the Pomona City Council meeting. The city regulates activities at the Fairplex through its zoning laws. Some residents advocated the city throw out existing regulations for the Fairplex zone and revert to the rules in place before the city council adopted the current version of the Fairplex zone in 2004. Pre-2004, the city had a greater say in setting limits on activities, and residents had a means to register their objections, they said. Some residents said the inconveniences they contend with—noise, traffic and trash—are affecting their quality of life. In October last year, residents who live near Fairplex called on city council members to revisit the Fairplex zone. Not only do noise, traffic and trash perturb, neighbors are concerned that Fairplex could become once again the scene of electronic dance music festivals or raves. In 2015, promoter Live Nation held the Hard Summer and Hard Day of the Dead festivals at Fairplex; two young women who attended the summer event died of drug overdoses. With a new CEO fronting the private, nonprofit Los Angeles County Fair Association which runs the publicly owned fairgrounds, officials there have placed a moratorium on raves while they chart out a vision for the types of events they want to host in the future. After listening to members of the public, council members opted to begin working with Fair Association leadership. The initial step will involve a joint meeting of the Pomona City Council and members of the Fair Association to discuss community concerns and Fairplex needs, said Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jared after the meeting. Councilman Robert Torres, who represents the council district that includes Fairplex and who advocated for revisiting the Fairplex zone, called the meeting “a great starting point.” Torres said after the meeting that even though council members had various opinions, “We all came together.” Fairplex generates about $17.8 million annually in various forms of revenue for the city, county, state and federal government, according to Fairplex figures. Pomona receives about $2.5 million in taxes, transient occupancy tax and permits.
After 15 years in San Bernardino, Arrowhead Credit Union will move its corporate headquarters to Rancho Cucamonga later this year. The move only affects its corporate headquarters and won’t affect the credit union’s members. Arrowhead Credit Union serves 132,000 members and has been in operation since 1949. It has locations in Chino, Crestline, Fontana, Highland, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino and Yucaipa, with a location to open soon in Victorville.
After more than 40 years, downtown San Dimas’ Old West theme has given way to Main Street. The city recently completed replacing the wooden boardwalk on the north and south sides of Bonita Avenue with concrete sidewalks. The Old West look has been around since city leaders approved wooden building aesthetics and plank sidewalks in the early 1970s. The look wasn’t inexpensive. In recent years, the city had spent up to $60,000 annually to maintain the wooden sidewalks. In 2014, the city council approved construction of the concrete sidewalks, which officials say makes the buildings more visible from the road and saves money. Work began last July, and much of the sidewalk was completed by Christmas 2016. Liquidambar trees that had once lined the sidewalk were removed because their roots would push up against the wooden boardwalk. In their place, crepe myrtle trees have been planted along Bonita and the new sidewalks. A dedication ceremony for the work is set for 11 a.m. March 18 on Bonita Avenue, between San Dimas and Cataract avenues. Cost for the renovation and street improvements totaled $3.1 million, funded by the city’s general fund reserves and the citywide lighting district fund, according to the city. San Dimas was also awarded a state grant from the CalRecycle program, which supported some of the street reconstruction and repaving with recycled tire aggregate, according to city officials. The project comes after the city, working with downtown business owners, demolished the 1970s-era Western-themed facades from the historic downtown buildings in 2012, restoring the early 20th century look that they had been hiding for 40 years.
In an abrupt move, the city council has dismissed its city attorney and the law firm that provided legal services to the city for the last 4½ years, the council announced in a special meeting Feb. 6. Fullerton-based Jones & Mayer had represented Upland since September 2012. The interim city manager has been directed to negotiate a contract with Los Angeles-based Richards Watson & Gershon, and attorney Jim Markman, who also represents Rancho Cucamonga. Upland’s contract with Jones & Mayer, which was set to expire in 2018, terminated Feb. 12. This will be Markman’s second turn serving as city attorney. He started in Upland by providing legal counsel to the city’s then-redevelopment agency in the 1980s. He became city attorney in the early ’90s, when the previous city attorney retired after 40 years on the job. Markman said he served in that position for about eight years until another colleague took on the position.
In other business, Upland Hills Country Club homeowners have backed a plan to build condos surrounding the golf course, recognizing it could save the diamond green. The 18-hole public course and surrounding land, straddling 16th Street and developed starting in the 1980s, now has 544 units. Sale of the property to Rancho Cucamonga-based Diversified Pacific would allow the course owners to pay off the $5.8 million they still owe on their 2005 purchase, and better maintain the pitch. The proposal by the developer will shorten two of the greens to build 68 detached condominiums on 8.4 acres on the northeast corner of 16th Street and North Upland Hills Drive. The first step to shorten the Upland Hills Golf Course was unanimously approved by the Upland Planning Commission.
The developer will set aside $749,000 to the city for improvements at the golf course. As a condition of the approval, Diversified Pacific must first make the improvements to the golf course and then get reimbursed by the city. It will have one year, from when the permits are issued, to complete the work. The developer also met with a representative from the homeowners associations on the south and north sides of the country club. The latter included meeting with the board and its members. Documents were also left in the clubhouse with details for the project. The conceptual plans include seven floor plans, ranging from 1,390 square feet to 2,420 square feet. The units will incorporate California Spanish and Hacienda architectural styles. The project would bring the total number of housing units to 612 units on the 215 acres in the Upland Hills Country Club Specific Plan.
The company’s proposal also includes a covenant which could protect the golf course and homeowners. The owner of the golf course, or any future owners, cannot take on any other debt and secure it with the golf course without the vote of the homeowners association. The site improvements will be done all at once, but the homes will be built in phases, between five and seven per phase. To build the condominiums, an amendment to the Upland Hills Country Club Specific Plan must be approved. With the commission’s blessing, the development now goes to the city council for approval.
Additonally, Hanley Investment Group Real Estate Advisors announced the sale of Upland Village, a 60,857-square-foot grocery-anchored shopping center in Upland. The sale price of $17.2 million represented a cap rate of 5.83 percent, a record low cap rate for a stabilized grocery-anchored shopping center in the Inland Empire. Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree anchor the neighborhood retail center. Hanley Investment Group President Ed Hanley and Executive Vice President Bill Asher, along with the seller’s exclusive advisor Joe Miller, a vice president at Voit Real Estate Services of Anaheim, represented the seller, Outpost Village, LLC, based in Orange County. The buyer, a Southern California-based private investor, was represented by Peter Loh of RE/MAX Realty 100 of Diamond Bar, and Paul Yang of RE/MAX Vantage of Eastvale. Built in 1972 on 3.92 acres, Upland Village is located at 110, 130, 140 and 180 Mountain Avenue, at the northeast corner of Mountain Avenue and West 8th Street in Upland. The neighborhood shopping center was 100 percent occupied at the time of the sale. Grocery Outlet and Dollar Tree represent over 50 percent of the occupied square footage. Upland Village is a 100 percent-occupied shopping center.
After debating for months whether to spend millions of dollars fighting a lawsuit that alleged West Covina’s at-large election system violated state law, the city has settled the case. On Feb. 21 , the city council voted 3-2 in closed session to enter a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs. The agreement establishes a schedule for the city to design and implement an electoral district map and prohibits the plaintiffs from filing any new lawsuits alleging voting rights violations as long as the city maintains its new district system through at least the November 2020 election. Mayor Pro Tem Mike Spence and Councilman Tony Wu cast the no votes on the agreement. As part of the agreement, the city will still have to negotiate how much it will pay the plaintiffs for attorney fees. City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow said Thursday she has not received any figures on potential payments yet. Filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by three West Covina residents in September, the lawsuit alleged the city’s at-large election system violated the state’s Voting Rights Act because it created “racially polarized voting,” meaning the preferred candidate of a minority group—Latinos in this case—was not the preferred candidate of the rest of the electorate. The suit, which was referred to as “blackmail” by some officials and residents, forced the council to adopt an ordinance last month establishing a district election system in which council members are elected every four years from five different areas of the city. Wu, who voted no on the ordinance, said he is still concerned districts would result in council members fighting only for the interests of residents in their district and not those of residents citywide. The approval of the settlement, which is subject to the court’s approval, came on the heels of a notice of intent to circulate a petition to restore at-large elections.
–Bill Ruh, CVAR Director of Government Affairs