What do you do with a 500-foot-tall mound that covers San Gabriel Valley’s waste? You build a park on top of it. That is what the Board of Supervisors signed off on when they approved the plan for the Puente Hills Landfill Park, a 142-acre park in Puente Hills on what was the second largest landfill in the country. The project amounts to turning trash into treasure, said officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. The department, along with Withers & Sandgren Landscape Architecture & Planning, are leading an expert team in a 1 ½-year master plan “to envision a new life for this imposing 500-foot-tall mountain built over 60 years, from 130 million tons of our collective waste, according to the Puente Hills Landfill Park website. The master plan for the 1,365-acre landfill site features hiking, biking and horse trails, stair climbs, running loops, a dog park, and outdoor performance, picnic and play areas. A zip line is also being considered, but Supervisors Hilda Solis and Don Knabe called for more environmental analysis and amended the plan to dictate that no zip line would be built for at least 20 years. Construction of the park is set to begin in 2018 and take place in three phases over 30 years. The landfill was once the deepest landfill in operation. Now, the site which closed in October 2013, remains the largest landfill gas-to-energy operation in the country, according to the sanitation district’s director of solid waste management. The site is expected to continue to supply electrical power to residents through Southern California Edison for another 10 years.
For nearly 40 years, reaching Wrightwood or the San Gabriel Mountains ski areas directly from the San Gabriel Valley by Highway 39 has been a dead end. A 1978 mud-and-rock slide took out a 4.4-mile chunk of the mountain highway about 27 miles north of Azusa, leaving a gap between State Route 39 and its more famous cousin, State Route 2, better known as Angeles Crest Highway. For decades, civic and business leaders called for repairing the broken portion of the state highway bisecting a majestic set of canyons, peaks and rivers, among the most popular of our national forests. In 2009 the state had answered in the affirmative, but in 2011, just days before construction was to begin, Caltrans announced it abandoned the fix. Instead, the $32 million set aside for Highway 39 went toward repairing a bridge on Highway 1 in Northern California. Now, five years after the reversal, the cities of Azusa and Glendora, business groups, a local congresswoman and the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments have persuaded Caltrans to consider reopening the road to Highway 2, state and local officials reported.
During recent behind-the-scenes meetings initiated by Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, Caltrans listened to local leaders as to why the highway should once again connect with State Route 2, officials said. They argued:
- Fires and floods can leave people in Mountain Cove, an Azusa mountain neighborhood, and various mountain camps and campgrounds trapped in the San Gabriel Mountains with no way out. Providing a northerly escape route through Highway 39 to Highway 2 could save lives and also provide quicker fire suppression responses.
- Congestion in the North, West and East forks of the San Gabriel River — popular recreation spots during summer and fall — would be relieved by completing the loop to Highway 2, moving people and traffic through Wrightwood, a quaint mountain town, and connecting to the high-desert communities.
The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, a collaboration of 31 cities, three county supervisors and three water agencies, has written a letter to the U.S. Forest Service, asking to include a completed State Route 39 as part of its management plan for the forest and the 346,177-acre San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The COG says the entire route was included in a 1919 state bond measure. The letter states completion of the 4.4-mile damaged portion would provide better access for recreation, fire suppression and search and rescue teams.
On Thursday, Oct. 13, the City of Baldwin Park celebrated the opening of a 69-unit affordable housing apartment complex that they hope will serve as a catalyst for revitalizing the downtown area.
The project, named Metro Village, provides one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for families making 60 percent or less of the median county income. More than 3,000 people applied to live in the four-story building, which is located at 14428 E. Ramona Blvd., and is within walking distance of the Baldwin Park Metrolink station. The building will also have 5,500 square feet of space for commercial retail. The developer of the project, Santa Clara-based ROEM Corp., estimated in 2014 that the building would house about 338 people. The complex is part of the city’s plan to provide more low-income housing through the federal program known as Section 8. When Baldwin Park opened its wait list for the program in August for the first time in 13 years, more than 8,400 people applied. The building features a community lounge, fitness room, learning center and a barbecue area. Rent ranges from $442 to $931 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, $513 to $1,100 for a two-bedroom apartment and $581 to $1,258 for a three-bedroom apartment. The $27 million project was funded by a 9 percent low-income housing tax credits allocation, as well as federal housing funds and a loan from the city. The property, located next to the Baldwin Park Police Department, required demolishing the entry to the city’s jail and a police evidence room.
Street makeovers, updated storm drains and a new street sweeper are on the way to Chino.
The City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 18, approved $2.75 million in capital projects to maintain or improve the quality of the city’s infrastructure. The projects will begin and finish in the 2016-17 fiscal year. The council unanimously awarded contracts to R.J. Noble Co. for $1,429,375, for street rehabilitation projects on Ramona Avenue from Walnut Avenue to Philadelphia Street, Pipeline Avenue from Edison to Eucalyptus avenues and Riverside Drive from Central to Oaks avenues, and along Riverside from Ross to Magnolia avenues. Noble, a licensed firm in Orange, was the lowest bidder. Young and Associates, a Pasadena firm, was the lowest bidder of 15 companies with its winning bid of $984,526 on the Chino Avenue storm drain project, stretching from Benson to Oaks avenues.
A decade after Southern California Edison announced plans to run high-voltage wind energy power lines through the city, and three years after an unprecedented decision to bow to public pressure calling to underground them, SCE is about to flip the switch. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, according to a statement posted on the city website, SCE’s goal is to energize and enter into service the so-called “Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project’s” power lines through—and under—Chino Hills by mid-November. In a prepared statement published on the Chino Hills website from SCE, the company said the undergrounding of the power cables was an unprecedented, “first-of-its-kind” project in the United States. The power lines are part of a $2.1 billion project that aims to bring wind-produced electricity over a 225-mile stretch from Kern County to the Los Angeles Basin. It is part of a state mandate to generate more sustainable energy. The city of Chino Hills filed an official protest back in August 2007, but the California Public Utilities Commission approved the project with large overhead towers and lines 2 ½ years later. Residents protested when work to erect the 198-feet-tall towers above ground and through neighborhoods began in 2011. Residents’ concerns centered on impacted property values and health and safety fears that electromagnetic radiation could cause cancer, and that the tall structures could topple in an earthquake. An alternate plan, which had been rejected by the California Public Utility Commission, would have routed the lines through nearby Chino Hills State Park. After many discussions, the PUC reversed itself in July 2013, voting 3-2 in favor of undergrounding high-voltage power lines though 3.5-miles of Chino Hills. The lines remain above ground in Chino and Ontario. An SCE spokesman said the utility company will provide more detailed comments on the project at a time closer to the start of its operation.
A half-finished townhome project on the northern part of town may soon resume construction. Claremont Director of Community Development Brian Desatnik said the city is close to reaching a deal with Newport Beach-based developer William Lyons Homes over its 95 half-built townhomes near the 210 Freeway, on a former strawberry patch just east of the intersection of Baseline Road and Towne Avenue. The Claremont City Council in February learned that construction stalled because the developer needed to reassess the market. Claremont has met with William Lyons several times over the summer. The last meeting was in early September. In early 2015, William Lyon Homes announced plans for the project, which is called Meadow Park, an attached-home community, promising an impressive selection of townhome and motor court designs with charming, well-appointed interiors that accommodate a range of lifestyles.
In other items, the former 64-room Howard Johnson’s motel, dating to 1968 and converted into the Knights Inn last year, and will mostly be demolished next year. The Architectural Commission recently gave final approval for a 121-room, four-story Hampton Inn & Suites at the site, which is on Indian Hill Boulevard, immediately north of the 10 Freeway. But the 5-1 approval came with a set of conditions, the most significant was to address what commissioners believe are critical design flaws. During the design process, the commission indicated to Smart Investments that it wanted the new hotel to have classical design elements, recommending the company look to Pomona College as an example. But what it reviewed missed the mark. Officials with Smart Investments said the architect was directed to simplify the original design and did what was suggested, using the college as a reference. The problem, commissioners pointed out, is Pomona College’s buildings are only two stories high. Many also expressed concern the design had been too simplified. The commission recommended to the developer:
Use a contrasting color band on the second and third floors
- Paint the fourth floor a lighter color
- Raise the stone base to the second floor for certain portions of the building
- Work with staff to enhance some window treatments
The commission also asked for the first floor windows to be made to appear bigger.
The Planning Commission is expected to meet later this month to review one last element of the project, an agreement to share parking with The BC Cafe.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $1.9 million grant to build the new center at Kelby Park, 815 N. Barranca Ave. The city’s current senior center, the Joslyn Center also at Kelby, has fallen into disrepair and is slated for demolition. The 1979 building has been out of use since February, leaving senior activities scattered about the city. For months and through multiple study sessions and workshops, city officials evaluated various sites for the new center, which is estimated to cost around $6.5 million. The council earlier this month decided to pursue both Kelby Park and the Covina Woman’s Club for the new center. Although the county grant is specific to the center being built at the park, the city could ask the county to amend the grant. That being said, Kelby Park is the prefered site. Officials said that the city is still studying the woman’s club option. The project still faces a funding shortfall. Penman said that including the county grant, the city only has around $3 million earmarked for the project.
The opening of a 500,000-square-foot, $55-million industrial park is the single largest industrial development in the city in two decades, according to city officials. The new Magellan Gateway, located on Temple City Boulevard where El Monte meets with Rosemead and Temple City, opened earlier this month. Three of Magellan Gateway’s five buildings have already been sold to The Gill Corporation, Jans Investment and Management and Dream Home Temple City Boulevard. City admits that new projects of this size are hard to come by throughout the county, which is why they are especially pleased that it’s in El Monte. In this case, Magellan Gateway’s opening also helped keep one of the city’s top employers from potentially leaving. The Gill Corporation, which manufactures lightweight structural materials for aircraft, had been looking to either expand or move, Thai said, and expanding into a building at Magellan Gateway allowed the company to stay in El Monte and keep from interruptions to its business. The business has 450 employees and will look to hire 50 more with this expansion. The location appealed to the Magellan Group because of a lack of new construction in the region for several years. Magellan is planning another project elsewhere in the San Gabriel Valley, Staley said, but the group is not yet ready to discuss details.
Rumors and uncertainty regarding the demolition of Irwindale (CA) Speedway have been a dark cloud hanging over the facility for the past two seasons. It appears race fans and enthusiasts can breathe a sigh of relief – at least for 2017. The Irwindale Event Center (IEC), revealed via a press release Wednesday, Oct. 25, that the facility is scheduling events for next season. The IEC includes the LA Racing Experience, Irwindale Speedway, Advanced Driving Dynamics, and Irwindale Dragstrip. IRC said that they will continue the Thursday Night Drags, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and Nights of Destruction, along with special events such as K&N Pro Series West, HotVW’s Drag Day, the NHRA Summit Series, Thursday Night Drift, Truckin’ for Kids, Formula Drift Championship, and ‘MoonEyes,’ all being presented on their traditional calendar dates. The uncertainty surrounding the facility dates back to May of 2015, when it was reported that the site was likely to be demolished to make room for an outlet mall. However, no further action has been taken toward the demolition of the facility. For more information visit www.irwindalespeedway.com.
A high production city well has been shut down for several weeks after city officials began to notice a disturbing trend. Well 7A was recently shutdown when the city discovered an elevated level of the toxic industrial cleaning agent trichloroethylene, commonly referred to as TCE, according to a staff report to the council. The issue was identified during the city’s ongoing water quality inspections. Officials say that they have not exceeded or violated any water quality standards and there was no contamination. To solve the issue, staff is recommending installing a new aeration system. With one well down, the city will also need to fix Well 20, which has been out of operation and needs to be rehabilitated. The council is expected to also authorize $1.2 million toward a work plan, as well as looking to address a $13 million replacement project for one of its reservoirs. The council is expected to set aside $197,209 to purchase and install aeration equipment, to remove TCE from Well 7A, located in Reservoir 4. Another $43,066 is needed to purchase and install electrical components for Reservoir 4, according to the report to the council. Reservoir 4 is between South Campus Avenue and North 6th Avenue. During the process of looking for an aeration system, officials discovered the tank at Reservoir 15 is similar to other tanks with defects. Staff determined the best solution would be to replace it as soon as possible. The cost to acquire property from San Antonio Water Company, as well as the design and construction of a replacement tank, would take anywhere from $12 million to $13 million, which the Water Fund does not have.
Residents could see their trash bills go up by more than $3 over the next five years if the City Council adopts a proposed rate increase schedule. The council will consider the increases and a 10th amendment to the city’s longtime contract with Athens Services, following a Proposition 218 hearing to give property owners an opportunity to challenge the proposal. If approved by the City Council, the monthly waste collection rates would increase this year by 7 percent—from $27.77 to $29.72 for a residential 90-gallon barrel. The rates would increase an additional 3 percent, plus consumer price index in 2017 and 2018, under the proposal. In 2019 and 2020, the rates would only be adjusted by the index. The proposed amendment would increase the trash hauler’s $100,000 annual contribution to the city to $300,000 a year, which would go directly to the city’s general fund, said City Manager Chris Freeland. Previously, Athens’ contribution could only be used for the police department’s SWAT program and the city’s Fourth of July celebration. In 2012, the council extended the term of a 12-year rolling agreement with Athens, known as an evergreen contract, to a 25-year one. Since then, the company has requested a one-time rate increase of 10 percent on three different occasions, according to a staff report. The city began negotiating with Athens last year to resolve the requested rate increases, which were never granted, and other issues over the existing agreement terms. Throughout negotiations, the city expressed concerns over the lengthy term of the evergreen agreement, which renews automatically each year, but the company was unwilling to address the issue. If the rates are approved, residents will see the increases, which are retroactive to July 1, 2016, at different times, because Athens does not bill the entire community at one time, according to city staff.