After months of discussion and research, the Azusa City Council voted unanimously Monday to place a three-quarter percent sales tax increase on the March ballot.
With the prospect of other agencies seeking to grab the last three-quarter percent before the local rate hits the state cap of 10.25%, City Manager Sergio Gonzalez had encouraged the council to consider placing the tax increase on the March ballot.
Several council members previously bristled at the idea but conceded it may be necessary to keep the tax money in Azusa. Officials believe the extra tax placed on locally purchased goods has the ability to raise between $4 million and $4.5 million annually.
The city is facing potential deficits between $1.5 million and $3.3 million in the next five fiscal years, and with police and fire salaries representing a large portion of the city’s annual budget, the sales tax could help maintain those services, police Chief Mike Bertelsen said.
The city has taken other measures to decrease its spending and increase revenue—saving $324,000 by restructuring the city’s Human Resources Department, replacing gas vehicles with electric ones, freezing a vacant position in the city manager’s office and raising $1 million a year by increasing the fee the city collects from local hazardous waste facilities—but the projected deficits far outpace those measures, according to a staff report.
To help determine the need for the sales tax increase, the city spent $100,000 to do public outreach and polling regarding the city’s finances and its spending priorities.
Of the 363 residents polled in an anonymous survey, 40% said there was some need and 36% said there was a great need for the city go seek additional funding to achieve the level of city services they want and need.
Four San Gabriel Valley cities approved sales tax increases Nov. 5—Irwindale, Monrovia, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena. Voters in Alhambra and West Covina are also set to decide on sales tax increases in March.
Baldwin Park Unified has successfully refinanced $28 million in 2013 bonds, saving Baldwin Park property owners $72.1 million in repayment costs over the next 33 years.
Refinancing takes advantage of lower interest rates for bond issues approved by voters for improving district facilities. The district will replace bonds issued in 2013 at an interest rate of 6.3 percent with bonds that bear a 4.2 percent interest rate.
The total tax rate savings will be $311 per $100,000 in assessed property value, and $778 for a property assessed at $250,000. The district also can refinance these bonds again in the future.
Residential construction has slowed considerably in Chino Hills following five years of extensive residential construction activity, according to the city. The city said that there are just not a lot of entitled projects that are ready to build.
Entitlement is the pre-approval process that takes place before a project can be submitted to the city to make sure it complies with development and zoning standards.
Officials said there are some residential projects on the horizon, winding their way through the entitlement process and, if approved, would take several years to build. Officials noted that with the October numbers, residential construction is down 93 percent over the same time last year.
On the commercial side, activity has been in the southern end of town on Soquel Canyon Parkway and Pomona Rincon Road, including the Soquel Canyon Square, The Rincon, and the Santa Barbara retail center adjacent to the Santa Barbara apartments. It was noted that most of the buildings have been completed or are under construction, so the activity now is tenant improvements.
Tenant improvements are changes made to the interior of a building to configure the space for the needs of that tenant.
Holiday Inn Express is entitled for The Rincon but there has been no recent movement, and Wendy’s is under construction. A micro-brewery and restaurant called Luchador Brewing Company, with Mexican food and an open area for a bag toss game known as cornhole and other games, is undergoing tenant improvements.
Two medical office buildings are under construction, a 6,500-square-foot single-story building and a three-story 31,633-square-foot building.
Other commercial projects on the way are a Burger King at Crossroads Entertainment Center, where Harkins Theatre is located, a new three-story self-storage building at Fairfield Ranch Road and Central Avenue, where grading is expected to begin by the end of the year, and the Goddard School consisting of a daycare and preschool on the southwest corner of Pomona Rincon Road and Picasso Drive, directly south of Chino Hills High. In regard to commercial development, officials noted that with the October numbers just in, we are currently down 51 percent in new non-residential construction from the same time last year.
There are currently 25,834 dwelling units in Chino Hills. The build-out number used in the 2015 general plan update was 28,438 dwelling units by 2045, but the city will never really be built out because many of the general plan tallied units are located on canyon properties challenged by topographic and access constraints.
Measure CR—the proposed three-quarter cent sales tax increase—failed to reach a majority at the ballot box Nov. 5. Once 100 percent of the precincts were in, 49.02 percent of 6,248 Claremont voters voted in favor of the measure, while 50.98 percent voted against it, according to the LA County Registrar-Recorder. Just 122 votes separated the two sides. There are 22,351 registered voters in Claremont; of those, 13,131 are on permanent vote-by-mail status.
The result so far is a blow to city leaders, who tried to sell Measure CR as a way to maintain current service levels in Claremont.
City leaders and the Yes on CR campaign warned that extra cuts to programs and services would be made if the measure didn’t pass, and that an outside agency could come in with its own ballot measure that could take tax dollars out of Claremont.
Measure CR would have added .75 percent to the city’s current tax rate of 9.5 percent, bringing it to the state cap of 10.25 percent. The measure would have brought in around $2.5 million annually, which the city said would have partially offset future budget deficits.
Throughout the election season, the “No” campaign claimed CR was a regressive tax that would hurt local businesses, negatively impact low-income and fixed-income residents, and would be used to pay for city employee salaries and bonuses. Those claims seemed to have resonated with just enough voters.
Measure CR is the only sales tax measure in the election in Los Angeles County that came up short. Measures in Monrovia, Lynwood, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and Irwindale all passed decisively on Nov. 5.
The Bascom Group, LLC has acquired Atrium Apartments, a 39-unit apartment community in El Monte. Atrium was built in 1963 at 3733 Gibson Road, El Monte. Bascom purchased Atrium for $9,700,000, or $248,718 per unit or $312.00 per square foot.
Since 1996, Bascom and its affiliates have acquired 331 multifamily properties throughout the United States, totaling more than 85,000 units. Atrium marks Bascom’s 39th multifamily property closed in Los Angeles County and its 169th multifamily property closed in California. In the past 12 months, Bascom has completed over $1.5 billion in multifamily transactions throughout the United States.
Located in El Monte, Atrium provides ideal access to major economic centers and dynamic cores, including downtown Los Angeles, Arts District, Pasadena, Commerce, City of Industry and Long Beach.
Following an extensive search, which brought an excellent field of highly qualified candidates, the Charter Oak Unified School District Governing Board has unanimously named Dr. Jeffrey Jordan as the new superintendent.
The longtime Walnut Valley USD administrator brings 30 years of K-12 experience to his new post. Jordan has a stellar reputation for establishing collaborative working relationships with teachers, staff, and parents across the district.
For the past three years, he served as Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services and prior to that as Administrative Director of Educational Services.
He was also principal at Walnut High School, his alma mater, for six years, and principal at South Pointe Middle School for two years.
He also served in numerous roles at Walnut High School as an Instructional Dean, Grade Level Coordinator, Athletic Director, and teacher.
Jordan holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Cal Poly Pomona, Master’s Degree in Education from Azusa Pacific University, and Doctoral Degree in Organizational Leadership from University of La Verne.
Additionally, Jordan is an adjunct professor in the Master’s Degree Program at Concordia University, Irvine.
Citing restrictions on selling its current Pasadena property and unexpectedly high construction costs, Fuller Theological Seminary officials announced it won’t be moving to Pomona in 2021 as planned.
Fuller president Mark Labberton said Southern California’s high construction costs—higher than the school’s conservative estimates—and “differences with the city of Pasadena” over the sale of the land led the board on Oct. 24 to vote unanimously to stay at its 13-acre Pasadena location.
In May 2018, the Fuller board had unanimously voted to leave its main campus, which had been home since its founding more than 70 years ago, and move about 30 miles east to Pomona. The decision to leave Pasadena followed downsizing efforts the year before, when Fuller closed three of its eight satellite campuses and cut degree options at two more.
Leaders hoped a relocation to Pomona would alleviate financial pressures. The high cost of living in Pasadena had created hardships for many Fuller students and faculty and limited the school’s ability to reach potential students, according to its website.
But Pasadena Now reported that the plan was halted when Fuller could not sell some of its buildings for prices previously expected because of a development deal the school made with the city of Pasadena over 10 years ago.
At the same time, the seminary is still reducing its footprint in the Los Angeles-area locale, where its oldest campus building dates back to 1953. It plans to consolidate by selling “non-core properties.”
The Pomona move was initially intended to allow Fuller to upgrade to “state-of-the-art facilities designed to serve both traditional and online learning along with smarter centralized administration.”
Now, some offices will move to “modern but underutilized” space in Houston, where the Fuller Texas program is located. The school will also continue to strengthen its marriage and family therapy program based in Arizona, as well as its online degree offerings. According to its website, Fuller “serves nearly 4,000 students from 90 countries and 110 denominations” across its three sites and online.
After two years of community outreach, the Rancho Cucamonga City Council on Oct. 2 approved a plan to annex 4,088 acres of county land into the northern portion of the city that could add 3,000 homes and increase the city’s population by at least 9,000 people.
If approved by the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission, the city would implement the Etiwanda Heights Neighborhood and Conservation Plan on any future development. This includes some 1,200 acres of surplus land being sold by the San Bernardino County Flood Control District.
The new blueprint covers 4,393 acres of unincorporated county area extending from Haven Avenue east to the city’s border with Fontana, and from the northern city limits to the San Bernardino National Forest boundary, including 305 acres of rocky, hillside terrain already in the city. The plan overlays specific zoning, housing density formulas and amenities that include 790 acres for building single-family homes with streets but no curbs or sidewalks; clustered housing with no dead-end streets or cul-de-sacs in order to increase fire safety, and two blocks for commercial shops described in the plan as having “a small town, Main Street character with a distinctly rural twist.”
The plan also includes a 3,603-acre rural/conservation area that would set aside three separate preserves to provide open space, keep views of the nearby mountains unobstructed and protect endangered plants, such as the Plummer’s mariposa lily and Parry’s spineflower. This particular area fronting the mountains would allow a maximum of 100 homes. Also, the plan creates five different neighborhoods with varying architectural designs; 85 acres of parks and 11 miles of trails, including a public equestrian center with stables and an arena.
Mayor L. Dennis Michael said he voted for the annexation and specific plan in order to cede local control over development decisions to the city of Rancho Cucamonga, and stave off “a hodge-podge” of houses and retail if left in the hands of San Bernardino County.
Landowners living in the unincorporated area, within what’s called the city’s sphere of influence, said they were opposed to the plan. They were concerned that city zoning in the specific plan would decrease their property values.
The final Environmental Impact Report, the specific plan and the zoning changes will come back for a second vote at the next city council meeting, Michael said.
To address the state’s housing shortage, Upland is asking for grant monies that will be used to shoe-horn more housing into the city of 15.6 square miles and 77,000 people. This effort includes: crafting a more development-friendly city housing element; providing incentives for developers to build affordable housing; updating land-use plans; rezoning parcels to encourage more housing; and streamlining the permit process.
Under a state law known as Senate Bill 2, adopted in 2017, all cities and counties must find creative ways to add residential units. The law was in reaction to an increase in homelessness in California, and is seen as one way to remove barriers to homeownership.
California has the second-lowest home ownership rate in the nation. The Los Angeles metropolitan area is a majority renter area, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development. As a result, cities are tapping into a fund—about $123 million—set aside by the state for planning grants. The funding comes from a $75 fee imposed on real estate transactions.