Though the city lost its legal battle over mining operations of the Vulcan Materials in Azusa, a new air quality station has been installed to monitor tiny, hazardous particles emitted in the air by mining activity. The new technology, installed by the South Coast Air Quality Management District on Valley View Elementary School grounds on Melcanyon Road, detects PM10, unhealthy particles that mining can release in the air. The new system’s readings of Duarte air quality can be viewed in real time at accessduarte.com. Valley View Elementary School is 3,000 feet below Van Tassel Ridge, where mining for gravel will take place over the next 25 years and reduce the height of Van Tassel Ridge by 800 feet. As a result, particles from the digging could get in the city’s air, affecting the air quality for nearby schools and outdoor revelers. The area being monitored, where miniscule PM10 particles will be emitted from drilling, is often populated with dog-walkers, soccer players, and families, particularly on the weekend, Cacciotti said. Should anyone notice a spike in particles on the website, it can be immediately reported to SCAQMD.
The Baldwin Park City Council narrowly adopted a 2013-2014 fiscal budget on March 23rd, weeks before beginning talks on the city’s 2014-2015 financial plan. The budget passed on a 3-2 vote, with council members Monica Garcia and Cruz Baca dissenting. The fiscal year began July 1, 2013. Questions about the $79.2 million budget were raised by each of the council members Wednesday, which was a continuation of the March 5 meeting when Baca requested more information about the city’s unfunded liabilities and future obligations. Unfunded liabilities are the government-required accounting of the projected costs of retirees’ medical benefits, but those figures will not affect the city’s coffers as much as retirees’ premiums, according to the staff report. The city is spending $683,038 on retiree health costs for this year, which will nearly double to $1.1 million in 2018-2019, according to the city’s five-year projection of the general fund. The adopted budget includes a balanced general fund with a slight surplus of approximately $96,600 and a projected reserve of $6.2 million. There are no reductions in personnel from last year’s budget and 73 percent of the general fund is spent on personnel costs. The first budget presentations for 2014-2015 will begin in May.
One of the biggest apartment rental projects to have recently opened in the Inland Empire is the new Homecoming at the Preserve in Chino. The $200 million project, at 16250 Homecoming Drive, is bounded by Pine Avenue, Hellman Avenue, Market Street, and East Preserve Loop, and is centrally located between the 15, the 71, the 10 and the 60 freeways. Homecoming lies south of The Preserve Parkhouse recreation center, and Cal Aero Preserve Academy K-8 school.
Homecoming and the surrounding Preserve community were developed by the Lewis Group of Companies, which was also responsible for planning the Terra Vista community in Rancho Cucamonga and the Victoria Gardens shopping center. Homecoming at the Preserve, at full build out, will feature 799 units, with 20 different types of floor plans, including duplexes, townhomes, villas and apartment flats housing about 2,000 residents.
Despite a delay, plans are once again moving forward on the city’s potential acquisition of Golden State Water Company’s local water system. A report released earlier this year found the city’s effort to acquire the water system would result in no significant impacts to the environment. After additional review of the report — spurred on by Golden State Water Company’s lawyer calling into question portions of the environmental document — the City Council declared that no new evidence had been received. A vote on the certification of the report was approved at a council meeting in early March. At the previous meeting, the council directed staff to bring back more information on the funding options. They’ve asked staffers to bring information to a future meeting on a revenue-based financing option that would give residents the right to decide. Based on existing water rates and charges, there is enough revenue generated to purchase the system for anything below $80 million. The proposed financing option assumes the purchase costs for the water system are as high as $120 million.
More than 100 veterans and officials celebrated the opening of the $12 million El Monte Veterans Villagbe.. The event featured a flyover by the Condor Squadron, a group of vintage WWII airplanes, and a performance by the Marine Corps Band. It was noted that the demand for housing is much larger than what a single project can provide. The project was almost entirely publicly funded, including $2.5 million from the county, $600,000 from the city and nearly $9 million in federal tax credits. The three-story building includes 40 furnished studio apartments with private balconies. It also includes community gathering spaces — a community room, barbecue area and outdoor stone fireplace. The project will also feature in-house veterans services provided by New Directions, including case management, job training, family reunification, legal services, health and wellness programs and support groups. Tenants for about half of the studios have already been selected. Officials are in the process of selecting the others. They will pay 30 percent of their incomes for rent.
The Glendora City Council has been discussing proposed legislation to designate parts of the San Gabriel Valley as National Recreation Areas. Congresswoman Judy Chu recently released draft legislation for the three designations, seeking comments on the National Recreation Area by April 30 and the Wilderness and Wild and Scenic proposals by May 30. The proposed NRA bill would establish the San Gabriel Valley areas as part of the National Park System; the Wilderness proposal would designate the federal lands in the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System; and the Wild and Scenic proposal would name portions of rivers in the Angeles and San Bernardino forests as wild and scenic rivers. The issue has been raised since 2003, when the San Gabriel River Watershed Study was authorized by Congress, the staff report states, and the city became involved in discussions led by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments beginning in June 2013. The city adopted legislative points in August, which was an analysis regarding land use, water rights and management of the recreation area, the staff report states. And while the draft NRA is consistent with the city’s adopted principles, the other two proposals are not, according to the staff report.
After giving Huy Fong Foods six weeks to work with the South Coast Air Quality Management District to conduct testing at the factory, the City Council determined the odor coming from the factory has created a problem for residents. The council also determined the Sriracha factory breached its contract with the city. The Council gave Huy Fong Foods 90 days to address the odor problems before city officials enter the factory to fix the problems themselves. The council heard testimony at a Feb. 26 public hearing from several residents who complained about the strong chili odors coming from the factory and more than a dozen factory employees who implored the council to keep the factory open. Both Senator Ed Hernandez and Assemblymember Roger Hernandez voiced support for Huy Fong Foods. AQMD inspectors have taken air samples inside the plant in the last few weeks while factory workers have been mixing the hot sauce. He said a carbon filtration system should alleviate the odors. City officials said the complaints continued. Data provided by AQMD showed that the majority of complaints about a smell coming from the Sriracha factory came from four households in the city of about 1,400 residents. The AQMD had a total of 61 complaints.
Challenger Valerie Munoz, the daughter of Democrat state Sen. Ed Hernandez, and incumbent David Argudo won seats on La Puente’s council. Munoz stayed far ahead of Argudo and incumbent Vince House throughout the night. Munoz promised to cut down on red tape to help bring new companies to the city. She said she plans to establish better communication between residents and public safety agencies through town hall meetings. Her two opponents, Argudo and House, have served on the council for a term each. Argudo previously won his seat four years ago, while House received his appointment when Mayor Louie Lujan resigned in 2010.
Council members voted 5-0 to establish a residential preferential parking zone in front of 2210, 2216, 2224 and 2226 “E” Street. The zone prohibits parking, except by permit, on the east side of the street in front of these properties from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The Police Department and City Hall have received complaints for several years from residents about non-residents dominating the parking for several hours and preventing residents’ access to parking. There have been other preferential zones established in other parts of the city, particularly in the downtown and Old Town areas. This latest zone is on the east side of “E” from the corner of Second Street to the alley just south of Third Street. Other residential preferential parking zones have been designated on portions of First, Second, Third and Twelfth streets and Peyton Road. The Police Department studied ways to resolve the problem when residents submitted a petition protesting the continuing problem of non-residents parking at “regular and significant daily or weekly intervals.” There are also safety considerations in recommending the preferential zone. These include increased congestion problems, people walking in-between cars and crossing where motorists don’t quickly or easily see them and the potential hazard of vehicle/pedestrian accidents as a result of the jaywalking and crossing in motorists’ blind spots.
Fairplex officials confirmed that horse racing will be moved to the Los Alamitos Race Course this fall contingent upon approval from the California Horse Racing Board. Although the plan is to move the racing event from Fairplex Park, bettors still will be able to partake in food and betting at the Finish Line Sports Grill, a satellite betting facility located on the Pomona property. Fairplex officials plan to expand and upgrade that facility in the very near future. Before any racing dates can be transferred, the matter must go to the California Horse Racing Board.
Progressive Real Estate Partners announced the sale of a 21,016-square-foot multi-tenant retail center in San Dimas. The property, at 702 W. Arrow Highway, sold for $4.8 million. That equates to $226 per square feet. The center is adjacent to the I-57 Freeway and is directly across from a Lowes-anchored shopping center. Built in 1988 and renovated in 2012, the center is 100 percent leased to a mix of retailers including Sears Appliance Center, Sherwin Williams and T-Mobile. The center’s location is further enhanced by its close proximity to several major shopping centers that are home to a roster of national retailers including Target, Lowes, TJ Maxx and Stein Mart.
The city will receive $4.75 million from one of its insurers to end a lawsuit alleging the insurance company failed to defend the city in another case relating to the Colonies flood-control dispute.
In the settlement reached April 14, The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (ISOP) agreed to settle the lawsuit alleging bad faith brought against it by Upland, which has also sued another of its insurers, Independent Cities Risk Management Authority (ICRMA), seeking roughly $2 million. The Colonies flood-control dispute began in March 2002 with the filing of a lawsuit against the county by Rancho Cucamonga real estate investor group Colonies Partners LP. The lawsuit alleged the county refused to pay for flood-control improvements at a 434-acre residential and commercial development in Upland that the investors had a stake in. Colonies co-managing partner Jeff Burum built a residential tract and shopping center, Colonies at San Antonio and Colonies Crossroads, respectively, at the site, and was at the forefront of a nearly five-year legal battle with the county. That legal battle ended in November 2006 when the county Board of Supervisors on a 3-2 vote agreed to settle the case and pay Colonies $102 million.
Incumbents Robert Pacheco and Mary Su swept to victory in one of the most contested and expensive races in city history. Pacheco, 79, the elder statesman who served on the City Council and then in the state Assembly only to return to the city last year, and Su, 55, the eight-year incumbent and a leader in the Asian community, won by a wide margin. The pair easily defeated challenger Betty Tang, 46, the president of the Chinese American Parents Association. With all votes counted and two seats up for grabs, Pacheco was the lead vote-getter with 2,114 votes, Su had 2,095 votes and Tang trailed with 1,659. Write-in candidate Dino Jimmy Pollalis had 139 votes. The Walnut City Council race could be one of the most expensive in San Gabriel Valley history, with three of the four candidates spending $275,000, campaign records show.
West Covina has spent more than $11 million since 2010 on lawsuits and other legal costs, according to financial records. Public records showed the city paid an average of about $3 million a year for attorney’s services and settlements. The biggest percentage went to city attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman and special counsel Squire Sanders & Dempsey. About $2.1 million of the legal costs came from Alvarez-Glasman’s firm. The administration budgeted $96,000 for his retainer, $75,000 for legal services and $25,000 for legal personnel in fiscal year 2013-14, according to a mid-year review. West Covina has paid Alvarez-Glasman $167,000 since July, according to financial records. Approximately $1.1 million in settlements came out of the city’s coffers in the same time frame. A back-and-forth battle against developer Ziad Alhassen — who owned, lost and then repurchased several contested auto dealerships — accounted for nearly $4 million of the total. Squire Sanders, the firm brought on to handle the case, has received $3,696,430 since 2010. The battle also stalled three dealerships from opening for years, causing the city to lose out on tax revenues. The lawsuit remains active but negotiations seem close, according to the council.