California voters turned out for the November election at a higher rate than any similar election since 1982, according to final statewide results certified on Dec. 6. More than 12.7 million voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election, representing 64.5% of the state’s registered voters.
In all, 41 counties reported turnout above the statewide average. Fifty-seven percent of registered voters in Los Angeles County cast ballots, a marked increase from the 31% of voters who showed up in the fall election four years ago.
Orange County, which saw fierce competition for four congressional seats all or partially inside its borders, saw almost 71% of its voters cast ballots.
In the race for governor, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom defeated Republican businessman John Cox by almost 3 million votes. Cox, who came in second in a June primary that saw 27 candidates, garnered a smaller percentage of November votes than any GOP candidate since 1998.
Historically, Republican candidates for governor have hovered no lower than about 40% of the votes cast in a general election, and Cox’s total share of the ballots continued to fall as the tallies were updated through late November.
This year also marked a milestone in the way elections are conducted in communities across California. Five counties enacted a new voting system that swapped neighborhood polling places for ballots mailed to every voter and a limited number of all-purpose “vote centers” for registration or voting assistance prior to election day. It was also the first year for “conditional voter registration,” the state’s version of same-day registration. In each of those counties, voter turnout was higher than the statewide average.
As of November, some 19.7 million Californians were registered to vote, the largest number in state history. Elections officials expect strong turnout in 2020 and are already preparing for the statewide primary in late winter of that year—moved up by California lawmakers in hopes of giving the state a more prominent role in the presidential race.
Baldwin Park gave preliminary approval to new rules governing Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) but left the door open for further changes.
The city council gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that will create a sliding scale for allowable sizes of the structures, known in planning-speak as accessory dwelling units. The ordinance, which will come before the council at a future meeting for final approval, also prohibits the units on some streets.
Either attached or detached, the units can be as large as 50% in size of the existing home with a maximum of 600 square feet for lots 5,000 square feet or smaller; an upper limit of 1,000 square feet for lots 5,000 to 8,000 square feet; and a max of 1,200 square feet for lots 8,000 square feet and larger.
The ordinance requires the property owner or a trustee reside in either the main house or the granny flat. It also prevents the mother-in-law units on properties within 300 feet of a school bus stop, on streets lacking sufficient space for public vehicle access and on streets with permit parking.
The council agreed that further changes may be needed, including implementing permit parking on heavily impacted streets and adding an appeals process for property owners.
The city moved quickly to meet the requirements of new state laws—that took effect in 2017 but gave cities two years to comply—which eliminated roadblocks and encouraged the construction of granny flats as a way to meet the demand for affordable housing.
In Council District 1, Dr. Paul Rodriguez prevailed over challenger Tyra Weiss to retain his council seat. In District 2, Mark Hargrove topped a field of 5 to win the seat being vacated by 20 year Councilmember Earl Elrod. In District 3, Marc Lucio won over incumbent Gary George.
A housing development could be built in the next few years on a portion of Los Serranos Golf Course on Yorba Avenue if negotiations are fruitful between the City of Chino Hills and golf course property owner Jay Greening.
Mr. Greening owns the property and leases it to the Kramer family, who reportedly is working to reconfigure the course.
The city council met behind closed doors in October to discuss the possibility of a transfer of high-density units designated for the open land at Tres Hermanos Ranch to the golf course to comply with Measure U.
Measure U, approved by Chino Hills voters in 1999, requires a public vote before a developer can increase the number of housing units beyond what is allowed in the city’s general plan.
Community development director Joann Lombardo said Mr. Greening approached the city to request the transfer that would allow the development of a nine-hole portion of the course into single-family residential.
For housing to occur on the golf course, a public process would take place that includes public hearings, a zone change, site plan review, general plan amendment, and environmental reviews.
The units would come from Tres Hermanos “site A,” an area along Grand Avenue where units were transferred as a placeholder during the city’s 2015 general plan update.
Tres Hermanos is located on both sides of Grand Avenue in Chino Hills and Diamond Bar and is owned by the City of Industry.
The City of Claremont is now accepting grant applications for the 2019-20 Community Based Organization (CBO) Program. The program’s mission is to partner with nonprofit service providers to strengthen the social, economic, and family infrastructure in the Claremont community.
Within the overall grant program there are two funding programs, General Services and Homeless Services, with separate funding sources. Funding will be awarded to those programs/projects that best address the community’s needs and priorities.
The city has allocated funds for the 2019-20 General Services and Homeless Services.
Applications are now available and can be obtained at the Alexander Hughes Community Center or by contacting the Human Services Department at (909) 399-5356, or firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as through the city’s website.
Grant requests must be submitted on a city-provided application form. All applications are due to the Alexander Hughes Community Center, 1700 Danbury Road, Claremont, CA 91711, no later than 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019.
A majority of Covina residents have voted to approve the city’s proposed sales tax increase. With all precincts reporting, Measure CC earned almost 58% of the vote, according to the Los Angeles County registrar’s office.
The measure will increase the city’s sales tax from 9.5% to 10.25%, the highest amount allowed by state law.
City staff estimates that the three-quarter-cent sales tax added to local purchases could generate $5.1 million annually, which would go directly to the city’s general fund to be utilized for police and fire services, parks and recreation, library, public works, community development and general administration.
Courtesy San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Protesters chanted “recall El Monte mayor,” and “recall city council members” outside the El Monte High School Auditorium where multiple city officials were being sworn in on Dec. 8, challenging a proposed marijuana-growing facility.
Approximately 200 community members included residents of Temple City–a neighborhood within that city’s boundaries would be right across the street from the new marijuana-growing center, at 4400 Temple City Blvd. in El Monte–who made their voices heard against the establishment.
The facility would cultivate, process, test and sell marijuana to medical distributors, but would not serve as a dispensary for direct public sales. Protesters said they feared the environmental impact of the facility, increased traffic and that it might increase crime in the area.
Project developer Teresa Tsai has promised her business would be a good neighbor. She would be compelled to agree to a long list of conditions for her plan to win city approval – and to meet all those requirements consistently to remain in business after the site opened. The City Council will consider final approval of the project at a public hearing Dec. 18.
A majority of the protesters were from the area immediately around the site. The El Monte side of the street is industrial, but across the street are homes with Temple City addresses. On a 3-1 vote, the Planning Commission advanced the project on Nov. 28, despite opposition from residents from Temple City and Rosemead, which is also not far from the site.
Tsai is hoping to remodel the 71,658-square-foot building, currently housing a furniture store, to organically grow, package and distribute medical marijuana to retail businesses elsewhere. El Monte does not allow any recreational cannabis businesses in the city. Direct sales or deliveries to medical customers is also prohibited.
If approved, Tsai’s would be the first legal marijuana business in El Monte. Nine applicants have passed initial city vetting, but no others have put together a specific proposal to set up shop in the industrial zones to which these types of businesses are restricted.
Voters in Glendora will decide in March whether or not to raise the city’s sales tax to help stave off projected budget deficits in the near future. The city council voted unanimously to call for a special election March 5 specifically to put a tax measure before the voters.
With no elections scheduled for that date in Los Angeles County, the city intends to contract with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office at an estimated cost of $400,000 and will spend an additional $20,000-$40,000 for printed materials, outreach and legal costs.
If approved, the special “transactions and use” tax would generate an estimated $5 million a year, according to a city staff report prepared for the council meeting.
The funds would go toward buoying the city’s budget, which included a $338,832 deficit in the current fiscal year and projections for even larger deficits through the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to a staff report prepared for the October City Council meeting.
Officials cited the city’s growing unfunded pension liability as the primary reason for the city’s deficit, with additional budgetary pressures coming from the city’s need to maintain its facilities and streets, state-mandated infrastructure changes and upgrades to city vehicles and technology, among other costs.
The city declared a fiscal emergency in September, which makes the special election possible. In the Nov. 6 general election, 11 cities in Los Angeles County passed similar sales tax measures—including the San Gabriel Valley cities of Pasadena, Pomona and Covina—bringing them all to the statewide maximum sales tax rate of 10.25%.
As they did at the Oct. 9 council meeting, residents chastised the council for not acting sooner. In May, the city council convened an ad hoc citizen’s advisory panel to identify possible new revenue sources for the city, and the panel eventually recommended the city bring forth the tax measure.
Montclair Place’s Moreno Street Market is now home to the first U.S. location of Döner & Gyros, bringing their iconic Mediterranean sandwiches to the Inland Empire. Döner & Gyros will be offering shoppers a menu of Döner kebabs and an array of sides and desserts.
Döner & Gyros debuted in 2014 in Dubai and quickly spread throughout the United Arab Emirates. The new location is brought to Montclair by Inland Empire residents Sal Kabir and Ahmad Fawad.
The Montclair Place Döner & Gyros takes up 590 square feet. Flatbread is made daily to accompany select menu items and traditional sides like fries, onion rings and cheese sticks. Montclair Place shoppers can find Döner & Gyros at Moreno Street Market on the upper level, above Center Court.
Additionally, Forever 21 has completed an expansion of its existing Montclair Place location, tripling the size of the previous store to 15,000 square feet. Clothing options for men will now be available, in addition to the extensive women’s retail offerings. Forever 21 at Montclair Place can be found on the upper level, near JCPenney.
The Ontario City Council announced the appointment of Ray Gayk to the position of Fire Chief. After 21 years of service to the Ontario Fire Department, his new duties commenced in December.
Chief Ray Gayk’s promotion from the position of Senior Deputy Fire Chief comes during the department’s 125th anniversary. In total, Gayk has devoted 25 years to fire service, and in those year, he has held various roles, including SWAT Medic, Public Information Officer, and Battalion Chief.
Outside of his local dedication to fire service, Chief Gayk has held leadership positions including Vice President of the OPS section of International Fire Chiefs Association and the State Legislative Committee for the California Fire Chiefs Association. He was also the editor of the “Company Officer Development” articles for Fire/Rescue Magazine, and he has taught leadership classes.
Ontario Fire Department serves a population of more than 176,000 people, covering nearly 50 square miles. Nine fire stations, eight four-man engine companies, two four-man truck companies and an eight-man Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting station are part of the department. Construction of a 10th fire station is currently underway.
For the first time in four years, Fairplex officials and residents living near the fairgrounds agree on a potential pact that would expand, not curtail programming.
The two parties, along with the Pomona City Council, favor a concept that would allow Fairplex to hold six new music events over three years while providing funds to study noise and traffic. The matter was discussed at the Nov. 19 meeting.
The controversy, however, continues with dissent now coming from an unlikely voice: Los Angeles County, which owns the 487-acre campus but leases the property to the Los Angeles County Fair Association.
The county has stated that they have not had time to fully evaluate and understand the possible impacts of such proposal to the county and its constituents. Taking into account the concerns raised, city leaders unanimously agreed to move forward to develop an agreement with Fairplex but asked that Los Angeles County and residents be included in the process.
The three-year agreement is expected to return to the council at its first meeting in February. It would serve as an interim agreement while a more comprehensive plan is negotiated with the city. The plan is to tack a $1.50 surcharge onto gate admissions during the Fair, and a $5 fee for the new music events. It would also gradually increase the city’s parking revenue share from 2% to 5%.
The city of Rancho Cucamonga was recognized as a 2018 Digital Cities Survey award recipient by the Center for Digital Government. Scoring in the 125,000 to 249,000 population range, Rancho Cucamonga was listed as one of 10 cities in the United States that use data to enhance a broad range of city services.
According to the Center for Digital Government, the survey used to award recipients recognizes cities that use technology to tackle social challenges, enhance cyber security, improve transparency and much more. The survey honors cities in five population classifications: 500,000 or more; 250,000 to 499,999; 125,00 to 249,99; 75,000 to 124,999 and fewer than 75,000.
The city’s Department of Innovation and Technology works alongside other city departments to foster collaboration, keep open lines of communication, and help meet challenges with the use of technology. The mission for the Department of Innovation and Technology is to provide maximum value for the technology investments the city has made by fostering understanding, adoption and exploration with platforms already in existence.
On Nov. 6, Dennis Michael easily retained his spot as Mayor of Rancho Cucamonga. He will be joined on the dais by newcomer Kristine Scott who won the seat in District 2, and Ryan Hutchison prevailed over 4 challengers to win the spot for District 3.
San Dimas City Council has named a replacement for City Manager Blaine Michaelis, nearly five months before his departure. The city council signed off on a four-year contract that would promote Assistant City Manager Ken Duran to the executive position. Michaelis, who has been with the city for nearly 40 years, announced several months ago he planned on stepping down in May. Since then, the council had been working with Michaelis on developing a transition plan. He has been serving in role of city manager since his appointment in January 2000.
The council interviewed Duran, who has been serving as assistant city manager for 26 years, and agreed he was the best candidate for the job. Under the terms of the four-year contract, there is an opportunity for a two-year extension by mutual agreement. The severance package allows the council to terminate without cause. It would provide six months of compensation, and because the city is part of the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, he could receive an additional six months’ compensation not at the city’s expense, he said.
The pay would remain the same as what Michaelis receives, $19,490 a month, plus $1,345 a month for health insurance. Duran will also receive a $400 a month car allowance and be reimbursed for use of the city manager’s personal cellphone. The council will review and evaluate Duran’s performance after the first six months in the new role, with annual reviews after that.
The council also agreed to name Jeff Malawy, with the law firm of Aleshire & Wynder, as its interim city attorney. He will replace Mark Steres, who is retiring from Aleshire & Wynder at the end of the year. Michaelis said the council had time to interview Malawy, who also recently was named the city attorney for Lompoc.
The German grocery store chain Aldi has been aggressively expanding in Southern California since opening its first stores in the region in 2016. Their newest store is located in Upland at 349 S. Mountain Ave. Opened on Thursday Nov. 1, the streamlined grocery store is different from stores most Americans are familiar with: Instead of dozens of competing options for a given item, Aldi typically has only a few options, including its own branded products. Customers also bag their own groceries. The Upland location adds to the presence of Aldi which has locations in Glendora, La Verne and Rancho Cucamonga.
Upland will see two new faces on the council with the election of Ricky Felix to Council District 3 and Rudy Zuniga to Council District 4. They will join returning Councilmember Janice Elliott, who prevailed in District 1.
By February, West Covina residents and businesses with police and fire alarm systems must have pulled permits for them at a cost of $10 each. The city council approved the permits this past March, but gave those with alarms until Feb. 1 to comply. The permits are meant to reduce the number of false alarms raised by residences and businesses in the city.
Under the new law, permit holders can get the $50 fee for their first false police alarms of the year waived if they complete an alarm awareness class within 30 days of their invoice date.
The second false alarm fee for permit holders is $75, increased by $50 with each subsequent false alarm, until it reaches the maximum of $275 each for six or more false alarms.
Those without permits are charged $150 for their first false police alarm. The second false alarm fee is $175, and it increases by $50 until it reaches the maximum of $375 each for six or more false alarms.
False fire alarms begin at $100 for permit holders, which can be waived by taking the class, and increases by $50 with each false alarm until reaching the maximum of $550 each for six or more false alarms. Those without permits will pay $200 for their first false fire alarm, and the fee increases by $50 with each false alarm until reaching the maximum of $650 each for six or more false alarms.