Compiled by Bill Ruh, CVAR Director of Government Affairs
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY
The Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District is launching the region’s first ever Residential Plant Voucher Program to incentivize residents to transform their landscapes with drought-tolerant plants and develop water-efficient gardening practices.
The program will provide up to $250 dollars of water efficient plants from Garden View Nursery to qualifying residents. The nursery was picked because it’s centrally located within Upper District’s area of service in Irwindale and has a wide selection of native plants and trees.
Residents began applying online March 1 and the waitlist is full. The Upper District serves the following cities: Arcadia, Azusa, Baldwin Park, City of Industry, Covina, El Monte, Glendora, Duarte, Irwindale, La Puente, Monrovia, Rosemead, San Gabriel, South El Monte, South Pasadena, Temple City and West Covina.
A list of pre-approved plants for this program and are available on the plant voucher program website to access and download. For additional information and conservation updates, click here. For questions regarding participation guidelines, voucher status or any other general questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Azusa Unified School District board voted unanimously on March 20 to close and consolidate campuses for the 2019-20 school year, a move that will shutter the Sierra High and Mountain View Elementary campuses. The district estimates it will save $1 million per year.
As part of the consolidation plan, Sierra High and its adjoining Adult Education Center will move to the Gladstone Street Elementary campus, whose students will be disbursed to Magnolia and Murray elementary schools. Mountain View Elementary’s dual immersion Spanish students will move to Valleydale, and its students taught in English will move to Paramount Elementary, according to the plan.
A handful of people voiced concerns over the plan during the public comment portion of the last school board meeting. Sonia Hernandez, a fourth-grader at Mountain View, lamented the closure because she had gone from being a B-average student to one who gets straight As in her time there. However, faced with district-wide declining enrollment—which has plummeted from 12,164 in 2002-03 to 8,007 in the current school year, according to a staff report—the school board had little choice but to approve the plan, board President Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez said.
Even with the anticipation of $1 million saved annually, the district still needs to cut another $2 million to balance its budget for the 2019-20 school year, said Marc Bommarito, assistant superintendent of business services.
As a result of the closures, the district will look to lease or sell the Sierra High and Mountain View properties, with first priority going to charter schools and government agencies before they can be sold to private interests, according to the staff report. Gladstone Street and Mountain View parents who do not wish to send their children to the campuses assigned to them in the consolidation plan may apply to send them elsewhere in the district with priority in the open enrollment process, according to the district.
The application process for Gladstone Street and Mountain View families will remain open until April 19. Students, as well as faculty and staff members, should find out their school assignments by May 14.
Proficiency Capital has sold the Canyon City Business Center at 1025 North Todd Ave., Azusa, for $47 million. The warehouse project calls for seven buildings totaling 462,500 square feet, and includes demolishing the 13,500 square-foot Colorama Wholesale Nursery facility on the site, a property that spans 23 acres. The buyer is the LLC, Todd APG. Southern California has seen a growing market for entitled properties as developers choose to skip the costly and lengthy approval process. The Azusa project is entitled; Proficiency Capital had submitted for plan review in February.
While the Canyon City Business Center is the largest development in Azusa’s pipeline, the list also includes Lagunitas Brewing Company. The beer company is building a 342,600 square-foot industrial site at 1021 Todd Ave., which will include a 52,800-square-foot restaurant.
Last year the city of Chino Hills changed the municipal code to require a permit (which is free) to be obtained for any signs placed in the city right-of-way in connection with any Single Exhibition Event (open houses, etc). All REALTORS® associations representing Chino Hills were involved in the process. Since that time Chino Hills has experienced REALTORS® not following the rules. (SEE recent Chino Hills Code Enforcement coverage in CVAR At A Glance)
In addition to a permit, they require the following:
-Permit to be attached to each sign
-A maximum sign area of 4 square feet
-Signs cannot be any taller than 4 feet tall
-There are 14 restricted corners that signs cannot be placed within 50 feet
-Signs are only allowed to be placed within landscaped planters
-Signs cannot be placed any closer than 100 feet from any other sign for the same event
-No more than 15 signs can be placed out on display
-Signs can only be out on display in the public right-of-way, Friday through Sunday and Observed Memorial Day and observed Veterans Day during the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The city of Chino Hills charges $36 per sign that is removed for being in violation of any of the requirements listed above. The city has a zero tolerance, and invoices for signs removed on the first incident. Invoices not paid in 30 days will be sent to collections. If signs are not paid for any collected in 30 days, the signs will be disposed of. The permit does take a few days to process so agents are to apply for the permit as soon as they know they need a permit. An agent will need to register themselves and registration is good for one year and then register for the location of the event which is good for 6 months.
Below are the links to register as well as to see all the rules. The link with the rules lists the restricted corners; the agent can click on the names for photos of the intersections, with a red circle around the restricted areas.
Click here for rules and regulations for temporary signs:
Click here to register (please be sure to register as an agent and your location, this is a two part process.
New City Manager
Ben Montgomery, 48, was named city manager for the city of Chino Hills, taking over the job on April 1. He began his career with
the city as a neighborhood services manager in 2006, moving up the ranks to become assistant city manager in 2017. Mentored for the last few years by outgoing city manager Rad Bartlam, he was promoted three times. Bartlam urged the city council to consider Montgomery as his replacement upon announcing his retirement in January.
Montgomery was given a three-year contract at an annual salary of $223,000, and benefits that include an $800 car allowance and $1,538 a month in medical coverage. He will receive a 3 percent salary increase in September 2019 and a 2 percent increase in September 2020. Bartlam was making an annual base salary of $260,858 with similar benefits.
Other benefits Montgomery will receive, consistent with the city’s department directors, will include 96 hours per year of administrative leave, a deferred compensation match of up to $100 per month, 96 hours of sick leave, retirement benefits, up to $3,500 per fiscal year in tuition reimbursement, and $100,000 in life insurance. Montgomery has an MBA from University of La Verne, a master of public administration (MPA) degree from Cal State Long Beach; and two bachelor’s of arts degrees from Cal State Dominguez Hills, one in economics and one in psychology.
Avison Young announced that it has completed the sale of a 4.4-acre site for the development of a new auto dealership in Claremont. Jodi V. Meade, a Principal of Avison Young and practice leader of the firm’s automotive properties group (APG), represented the seller, Brandywine Homes. The buyer was Claremont Holding Company, LLC. Avison Young is the only brokerage firm that offers an automotive specialty group catering specifically to the needs of automotive dealers, manufacturers and owners of automotive-specific properties.
Located at 667 Auto Center Drive, the site has been vacant for more than a decade and is part of the Claremont Auto Center, consisting of Claremont Toyota (one of the highest-volume dealerships in the nation), Hyundai, and Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealerships. In 2013, an 11.4-acre site was acquired by Brandywine Homes for a residential development; however, plans for rezoning were not approved. Of the 11.4 acres, Meade successfully completed the sale of seven acres in late 2015 for a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealership, which opened its flagship, state-of-the-art, 65,000-square-foot sales and service center in late 2016, and is currently owned and operated by John Elway Automotive Group.
The site has an existing building which will be expanded and completely renovated to include a service department, meeting manufacturer standards. The opening of the new dealership is anticipated to be within 12 to 18 months.
Located in the heart of Claremont, the site is visible by 518,000 cars per day from Interstate 10, one of the busiest freeways in Southern California. The property is surrounded by more than 432,000 people within a five-mile radius.
El Monte marijuana opponents were dealt a blow when election officials ruled they were 421 signatures short in their effort to overturn approval of the city’s first approved cannabis business—finding 45 percent of signatures gathered were no good.
The Los Angeles County registrar’s office verified 5,845 signatures. The office deemed 3,266 of those sufficient, 2,597 “not sufficient” and 59 “not sufficient because duplicate,” according to a letter sent by Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean C. Logan to the City Clerk’s office. Opponents were 421 signatures short of the needed 3,687 signatures, which is equal to 10 percent of registered voters, according to election officials. Tiffany Olsen, who leads the county’s signature verification efforts, detailed her process in an email to Deputy City Clerk Griselda Contreras, including why some signatures were challenged—and ultimately deemed unacceptable—by her office.
“This petition has several challenges where the handwriting was done by the same person in which the signer is supposed affix his/her own name, address and signature,” Olsen wrote. “There are also a lot of out of district challenges where the signer did not reside within the city of El Monte.”
Opposition of the business, opening shop on the edge of town at 4400 Temple City Blvd., has come from both inside and outside El Monte. Among those against cannabis are Temple City residents, some of whom live right across the street from the industrial area which El Monte leaders have designated a cannabis business zone. The opponents’ attorney, Ellis Raskin, said he was not immediately available to comment on the county’s ruling. Zig Jiang, one of the organizers of the signature-gathering, said that officials had not informed his group about the decision and was therefore unable to comment.
The effort is just one battle in an ongoing, multi-front war to keep medical marijuana businesses out of El Monte. The referendum concerned the City Council’s approval of a project from developer Teresa Tsai, who wants to grow, process and distribute medical cannabis at the Temple City Boulevard location. Opponents hoped to gather enough signatures that would require the council either to cancel the project’s approval or let voters decide at the ballot box. Another ballot measure effort is underway: one that would ban all marijuana businesses. It would also require ones previously approved, like Tsai’s, to close, if approved by voters in an upcoming election.
Meanwhile, Rosemead and Temple City are suing El Monte over its approval of Tsai’s project. The pushback hasn’t scared away El Monte officials or cannabis developers. The City Council on was scheduled to consider two more marijuana projects, which if approved would bring the total number approved in the city to four.
La Puente residents love the weekly “La Puente Live” market in its downtown area. But as the open-air market grew in popularity so did the crowds, which makes it hard for shoppers to maneuver around each other and vendor stalls. Some local businesses have complained the market blocks their storefronts. Another complaint is that people buying food from the market eat it in the patios of nearby restaurants.
At a recent city council meeting, La Puente leaders discussed the idea of moving the market about a block away to Stimson Avenue and Central Avenue, which is next to city hall, the city library and a county building. By moving to that area, the number of vendors can be doubled to about 150 while the number of city staffers required can be reduced, according to a council agenda report. The decision is expected to be made in early April when the city’s contract with the market manager expires.
The market was created back in 2015 as “an avenue to support local businesses and artisans by providing them with an opportunity to sell their goods and to showcase their businesses,” according to the agenda report. Originally meant as a summer event, it became such a hit that it was transitioned into a year-round event. The market draws city residents as well as others from cities such as Hacienda Heights and West Covina.
At the council meeting, Mayor Valerie Munoz stated that when the council decided to open the market, “our goal was to ensure that we would draw new people to our downtown area in hopes that it would revitalize our businesses, bring in additional foot traffic and just provide additional marketing.” For now, the La Puente Live market will continue to be held Fridays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the corner of Main Street and First Street.
The city of Ontario has formally signed the paperwork for its $33.25 million grant awarded by the California Strategic Growth Council, which will finance the city’s planned development of a modern urban village in and around its historic downtown core.
The highly-competitive Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) grant was awarded to Ontario in 2018 to support the city’s plans to create new economic opportunities and improve the health and well-being of residents. The development plan includes modern affordable housing, multimodal transportation, an urban greening program, an expansive rollout of solar energy, a small business incubator and workforce and career training. The TCC funds are intended to support communities committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and improving environmental, economic and health outcomes for their residents.
Among the projects included in the downtown plan:
A 101-unit affordable housing development located on Holt Avenue, just west of Grove Avenue, in partnership with National Community Renaissance.
Increased bus service along Euclid Avenue and a network of bicycle and pedestrian facilities throughout the area.
The community-run Ontario Carbon Farm, which will take green waste from local restaurants and convert it to compost for use in the community.
The planting of 365 trees in the project area.
A small business incubator program and enhanced workforce training and job placement services.
The installation of rooftop solar on up to 100 single- and multi-family homes. In addition to the energy and environmental benefits, the weatherization program will provide training and job benefits for residents.