Compiled by Bill Ruh
CVAR Director of Government Affairs
Twelve-million people rode Metrolink in 2018, making this the highest annual ridership ever, the commuter rail agency announced in August. With the expansion of the Gold Line, those numbers are likely to grow.
A contract was decided for the design-build part of the Gold Line expansion to Pomona, slated to cost $1.5 billion. Additionally, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Governing Board voted favorably on use of $126 million discretionary transportation funds to complete the much-anticipated project.
According to the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, the 12.3-mile extension will extend beyond Pomona and not stop at La Verne, as was the original plan. According to a report from the SGV Tribune, the Metrolink will reach Pomona by 2025, making the Gold Line the longest in the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority system.
The extension was announced just before Metrolink declared that they have reached their highest annual ridership, ever. The new record is an increase of 247,000 boardings from the prior year, and eclipses the previous record of 11,796,086 set in the 2008-09 fiscal year.
Compared to July 2018, there were 3.7 percent more riders in July 2019. Additionally, mobile ticket sales reached their highest month ever in July 2019, at more than $3 million, Metrolink reported.
Metrolink cited a robust local economy and more workers commuting through Los Angeles Union Station as reasons for the uptick in its travelers.
A proposed dry-mix concrete manufacturing business, whose operations would start at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, in Azusa drew the ire of nearby residents at a Planning Commission study session.
For several years, Consolidated Ready Mix, at 162 N. Aspan Ave., has been the focus of contention for people living in the surrounding neighborhood of single-family and multifamily homes not even a block away. The business began operating illegally without the proper permit in 2017 and was issued a cease-and-desist letter by the city in December of that year.
Later that month, applicant Rondell Fletcher began the process to seek the proper permitting and to expand the operation, but the business continued operating nonetheless. The city issued a second cease-and-desist letter to the business in May 2018. Fletcher said the business stopped operating about a year ago, and in that time, the environmental study for the proposed on-site improvements was completed and has been made available for public comment through Sept. 6.
The city estimates that the Planning Commission will consider approving Consolidated Ready Mix’s expansion proposal—as well as its request to operate 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday—in October.
The 50 people in at the study session voiced concerns over the business’ bad actions, its possible pollutants and the noise it would generate, especially as early as 5:30 a.m. six days a week.
Consolidated Ready Mix’s environmental study states that an 8-foot masonry wall would be constructed to reduce noise.
The Azusa Unified School District is opposing the development because of potential health hazards to students and families nearby, and because it’s close to the now-closed Mountain View Elementary School, which could be used for other educational purposes in the future. .
Planning Commission members asked a handful of questions of city planning staff and of Fletcher, but took no position on the proposed business expansion. Fletcher did not respond to the residents’ comments, but asked that they base their criticisms on fact instead of emotion.
Chino Police Department Capt. Wes Simmons was named the city’s 18th Chief of Police, taking over for Chief Karen Comstock, who retired in July. Capt. Simmons, 48, has worked for the Chino Police Department for 23 years as a police officer, corporal, detective, sergeant and lieutenant, and earned the title of captain in 2014.
He was sworn in during a private ceremony on July 25, and in a public swearing-in ceremony on Aug. 1 at the Chino Police Department headquarters.
Simmons is a 2014 graduate of the FBI National Academy and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Cal State Fullerton. He also has a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix.
Simmons has overseen the department’s budget, worked in its professional services, the criminal investigations unit, crisis response unit and is a founding member of the Chino Police SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team.
Dog Haus celebrated the grand opening of its first Chino Hills restaurant on Aug. 10. Located at 3330 Grand Ave. (across the street from the Shoppes at Chino Hills), this was franchisee Marcus Chan’s first Dog Haus location.
The 1,300-square-foot restaurant, designed to elevate the hot dog and burger-eating experience, by serving up its acclaimed menu offerings within the contemporary aesthetic of a modern industrial space. Dog Haus Chino Hills will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Claremont residents are voicing concerns about the Village South plan, a 24-acre area that is still being worked out. Elements the environmental impact report (EIR) have already drawn the ire of residents worried about the potential density of the project.
A scoping meeting was held to discuss potential environmental impacts of the future project. Those attending the meeting were concerned about the number of potential residential units that was first unveiled in the notice for the meeting—up to 1,140 units, with a 73-room hotel.
Sargent Town Planning, the developer of the project, noted that the number was the maximum number of units that could be scrutinized during the EIR process.
The environmental review process would be split into two tiers—Tier One estimates a mix of two- and three-story buildings with a maximum of four stories, with up to 30,000 square feet of retail, up to 20,000 square feet of office space, and up to 736 residences, which they say would mostly be two bedroom apartments and condos.
Tier Two is what could happen if there was a community benefit program in place that would allow for more density on the project. That program would allow for a developer to build more units and create more density in exchange for community amenities such as a park or more retail space.
Under tier two, up to five stories could be allowed in the interior of the plan area, with up to 60,000 square feet of retail, 50,000 square feet of office space, a 73-room hotel and up to 1,140 units. Those units would mostly be studios and small apartments.
Residents voiced concerns about parking, density and design.
There will still be ample time for public comment in the future. After the draft EIR is presented, there will be 45 days for additional comment and a public workshop, according to the city. More comment will be received when the final EIR is presented.
Written comments can be directed to City of Claremont, 207 Harvard Ave., Claremont CA 91711 Attn: Christopher Veirs. Comments can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partial preservation is in the cards for the San Gabriel Valley’s Googie-style Covina Bowl.
When the midcentury bowling alley closed two years ago, its future was uncertain. Now Trumark Homes says it plans to save as much of the building as possible–although it will not reopen the lanes.
Trumark is not the first developer to try to build on the site, but it did sign a purchase agreement for the Covina property in May. It plans to ultimately fill much of the site with three-story townhomes.
In the years following the closure of the bowling alley, the Los Angeles Conservancy voiced concerns about the property being adequately secured. The building was broken into and vandalized; even the copper wiring has been stripped from the interior.
Bringing bowling back to the site, even if Trumark wanted to, is not possible: The property’s deed stipulates that bowling operations can’t continue. The family that owned the bowling alley owns another one nearby in West Covina. Not wanting to “oversaturate” the area with bowling, they took reopening Covina Bowl’s lanes off the table.
It’s too early to say for sure how many homes would be built on the 4.3-acre site, but the plan as it stands now is to keep about 12,000 square feet of the Covina Bowl building, or roughly 75 percent of the façade. That will including the recognizable A-frame over the entrance, the wavy awning that extends out toward the parking lot, and the fantastic “Bowl” sign.
The preserved section of the building would be repurposed into an office building, or possibly a retail space.
The river rock that gives the Covina Bowl that Flintstone, midcentury look would be reused in the facades of the townhomes. Trumark is looking into having the townhomes, in some way, mimic the Googie glamour of the 1950s building. The idea emerged through early meetings with the conservancy. Those meetings were about finding ways to retain what we can and pay homage to the original use.
The project is still in the very early development phases. It could take a year to 18 months before that process is complete. When the planning department approvals are finalized, the sale will officially close.
The Covina Bowl was completed in 1956 and was built for members of the family that sold it to Trumark. The bowling alley was designed by Powers, Daly, and DeRosa, which went on to design almost 50 bowling alleys in California between 1955 and 1962, and were “widely recognized as the masters of the form,” according to the Los Angeles Conservancy.
Rideshare drivers could find themselves making $30 an hour in the city of El Monte, home to one of the largest transportation hubs in Southern California.
The El Monte City Council voted to draft an ordinance guaranteeing a $30-an-hour minimum wage for rideshare drivers. The move is supported by members of Mobile Workers Alliance, a driver-led organizing project of Service Employees International Union Local 721 in Los Angeles. If the ordinance becomes law, it would be the first of its kind in the United States.
At the state level, a bill working its way through the Legislature seeks to classify drivers for companies such as Lyft and Uber as employees, rather than independent contractors.
JLL has brokered the sale of Glendora Commons, a grocery-anchored retail center located in Glendora. Seagrove Property Group sold the asset to a private foreign investor for $13.6 million. Located at 1241-1251 Lone Hill Ave., Glendora Commons features 41,689 square feet of retail space. Completed in 2017, the property is currently occupied by Aldi, Guitar Center, Chick-fil-A and Pick-Up-Stix.
Monarch Home Sales, a mobile homes and manufactured housing maker based in Huntington Beach for more than 25 years, is opening a new office in La Verne, at 3845 Emerald Ave., according to a statement.
Monarch Home Sales’ President and CEO Elizabeth Alex said the company wants to expand to the Foothill Corridor.
The city of Ontario has been approved for nearly $5.8 million in state Active Transportation Program funding to improve pedestrian access and safety around Haynes, Vista Grande and Oaks Schools.
The California Transportation Commission (CTC) recently adopted its 2019 Active Transportation Program Metropolitan Planning Organization Component, which includes $5.764 million for pedestrian improvements around the three Ontario Schools. The project will construct more than 3 miles of missing sidewalks, nearly 200 handicap ramps, enhanced pedestrian crossings, street lights and plant more than 900 street trees.
It is the fourth Active Transportation Program grant the city has received over the past six years, accounting for more than $10 million in public improvements to improve pedestrian facilities. These improvements are in addition to the $7.7 million of active transportation projects that are being funded through a $35 million Transformative Climate Communities grant awarded last year by the state Strategic Growth Council to redevelop the city’s historic downtown.
The combination of these grants will result in nearly $18 million in active transportation improvements in the city, increasing pedestrian access to local schools, parks, commercial centers and transit stops.
The projects also include educational activities for students, parents and community members about the positive health benefits of walking and bicycling, as well as traffic safety and the rules of the road.
Marcus & Millichap Capital Corp. has secured a $12.7 million bridge loan for the acquisition of Sunrize Center, a shopping center at 8639 Baseline Road in Rancho Cucamonga, which features 100,224 square feet of retail space.
The debt placement is a floating-rate program starting at 6 percent with a five-year term and 12 months of interest-only payments and a loan-to-value ratio of 71 percent.
Fore Property has announced the opening of a new apartment community in Rancho Cucamonga, Arte, a mixed-use, transit-oriented development at 10130 Foothill Blvd.
The property features 182 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, including five live/work units. It has a rooftop lounge, swimming pool, spa, two-story fitness center, dog park, karaoke room, outdoor grilling areas and an entertainment patio with an outdoor fireplace. The complex is scheduled to be completed in late September. Monthly rents will range from $1,900 to $3,100, with average rents going for $2,300. The units are designed by Architects Orange, based in the city of Orange.
Advocacy Development Partners has broken ground on The Terraces at Via Verde, a 32-unit memory care community in San Dimas. The project is scheduled to open in early fall 2020.
Upon opening it will be the only stand-alone memory care community in the San Dimas area, according to the developers. The community will be split into two 15,000-square-foot neighborhoods with 16 suites each, all located on 1.2 acres near parks and shopping centers.
Frontier Management will operate the community upon completion. Irwin Partners Architects designed the project, with PacifiCore Construction serving as general contractor and Conley Design handling interiors. Fremont Bank, which recently announced an expansion of its seniors housing lending platform, is providing the construction and bridge financing for the project.
SOUTH EL MONTE
A proposed light rail line from East Los Angeles to either South El Monte or Whittier will help raise property values and make it easier for people without cars to commute to downtown Los Angeles—or is an expensive boondoggle that will prompt homeowners to sell.
Those were some of the views shared at community meetings Metro is hosting, designed to solicit input on what should be included in the environmental analysis for the proposed Eastside Gold Line extension.
The environmental impact report will consider four alternatives:
• One along the 60 Freeway ending in South El Monte.
• One going south on Atlantic Boulevard and then east on Washington Boulevard, ending near PIH Health in Whittier.
• A third containing both alignments.
• A fourth calling for no project.
The report is expected to be completed in 2021.
The meeting was held at the Whittier Community Center, and residents traveled from all along the proposed routes, including some from the Justice and Equality for the Eastside Coalition in East Los Angeles, to attend.
That group, consisting of more than 400 residents in the Via Camp neighborhood south of the 60 Freeway, from Atlantic Boulevard to Findley Avenue, opposes the 60 Freeway alignment.
The group said the proposed, at-grade and aerial design will cause “permanent, severe detrimental and negative impacts to our long-established neighborhood. These negative impacts, to name a few, would be increases in dust contaminants, including substances known to cause cancer, noise and vibrations, visual impacts, loss of privacy, traffic congestion and gridlock and decreases in property values.”
The group could only support the 60 Freeway option if it was constructed underground. The group also would like to see the Atlantic route underground, he said.
West Covina is one step closer to allowing beer and wine sales at gas station convenience stores in the city. The Planning Commission voted 3-2 to send a proposed municipal code amendment to the city council that, if approved, would lift a decades-old prohibition on alcohol sales at “service stations.”
West Covina’s planning staff isn’t certain when the law was added—it appears in the current municipal code adopted in 1977—but the fact that no existing gas stations have been grandfathered into selling alcohol, “is also a clue that it has been in place a long time,” Planning Director Jeff Anderson said.
This is the fourth time in a little more than a decade that city leaders have considered lifting the ban, with unsuccessful efforts in 2008, 2010 and 2016.
The municipal code provision in question bars alcohol sales at “service stations,” which is one of the most obvious indicators that the ban is outdated, according to the Planning Commission.
The amendment comes with 11 standards by which business owners would have to abide if they were to sell beer and wine, including provisions that, among other things, prohibits single-container sales and requires clear signage be posted in and around the store, indicating alcohol cannot be consumed on the premises.
The city council will consider the code amendment during a public hearing at a future meeting.