by Bill Ruh,
CVAR Government Affairs Director
During the many years I have written this report for CVAR members, I cannot re-call a time when our local governments were more challenged than they are now. The COVID-19 crisis has changed the focus of local governments from economic development, planning, land development and the more routine aspects of local government to a situation where they are concentrating their efforts on COVID-19.
Almost every local government has adopted Governor Newsom’s Rent Moratorium and Eviction in some form or another. All are working on keeping their residents and businesses safe. All local school districts are closed for the duration of the crisis, with some students learning via the internet.
It should be comforting to know that local government is working and continuing to do the business of the people. Local officials are continuing to be available, although in a more non-traditional way. I would ask every CVAR member to thank their local officials for continuing to do their duty by sending an email, card or note. We may not always agree with their views or actions, but we can all agree that they are staying on the job and governing in very trying times.
This report may have only a line or two about something in a specific city. Nonetheless it is information CVAR members may find useful.
Andrew Mendez a REALTOR® and CVAR member was sworn in as Azusa’s newest city councilmember at a special meeting on Thursday, April 9. Mendez fills a City Council seat that was left open when former Councilman Robert Gonzales was elected as mayor in the March 3 election.
The City Council voted unanimously on April 7 to appoint Mendez, who came in third for a seat during the primary election. With the open seat, according to the city’s staff report, the council had three options:
• Created an ad-hoc committee of two city councilmembers.
• Call a special election.
• Or appoint the candidate that came in with the third-highest amount of votes.
Since the City Council has filled open seats with the person who came in third before, councilmembers felt it was consistent to do the same again.
Mendez first ran for a City Council seat in 2017, where he came in third. Now, after three years, he’s excited to finally get started. He lives in Azusa with his wife, Carissa, and his five children. He grew up in Azusa and attended both Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and Citrus College in Glendora.
As a lifelong Azusan, he always wanted to see his city grow and improve. While he thinks the city is on the right track, he wants Azusa’s downtown area to become “thriving and walkable.”
Chino will be getting another In-N-Out facility. This complex will consist of three industrial warehouse buildings totaling about 376,204 square feet. It will be located just south of Chino Airport and be used for food delivery and storage, office space, parking of large catering “cookout” trucks and processing of their famous burger sauce, city officials said March 23.
Once completed, the famous burger restaurant company may move some of its facilities to the new Chino location from its Baldwin Park campus, said Warren Morelion, city planner with the city of Chino’s Development Services Department.
Officials said that the facility will be basically a relocation of a portion of their corporate offices in Baldwin Park. In-N-Out started in 1948 in a 10-square-foot drive-thru restaurant on Francisquito and Garvey avenues in Baldwin Park, and grew into a fast-food powerhouse with more than 300 restaurants in six states. The Baldwin Park location features a replica of the original restaurant, a corporate store, offices and training facilities. The company is officially headquartered in Irvine.
By a 7-0 vote, the Chino Planning Commission approved the industrial warehouse and food processing facility for the corner of Kimball and Mayhew avenues on March 16. The arrow-shaped parcel will include:
• 284,996-square-foot distribution processing center building to be used for storing and processing of beef burger patties, storage of produce as well as non-perishable supplies.
• 24,429-square-foot fleet and maintenance building with service bays and fuel islands.
• 66,779-square-foot sharehouse/cookout building for staging and loading the large In-N-Out cookout trucks for catering, plus maintenance workshops, warehouse and office space.
The new campus will include an employee lounge/cafeteria and decorative entryways.
Because In-N-Out mostly caters to take-out and drive-thru, stores have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic. Chino has an In-N-Out in the Spectrum Towne Center.
The restaurant chain started by Harry and Esther Snyder catered to two American classics: Automobiles and burgers. In fact, for the first 30 years, the chain did not have dining rooms. In-N-Out built its first restaurant with a dining room in Ontario in 1979.
Trucks and cars will go in and out of two entrances along Mayhew Avenue. The complex will have 427 parking stalls, mostly for passenger vehicles. Trucks will dock at the loading warehouse; trailer parking will be on the west property line behind the distribution building, according to city reports.
“This is not long-term parking and will be used as vehicles are being moved around the site for maintenance purposes,” the report stated.
In-N-Out has a year to submit construction plans. The project needs no further approvals. No time frame for completion has been set.
The city of El Monte unanimously passed a 60-day moratorium on evictions for tenants who are experiencing financial losses due to the coronavirus. At a subsequent meeting the council members extended the moratorium for as long as the local emergency lasts.
Some local tenants’ rights activists are saying the measure—which still allows landlords to evict tenants for “just cause” reasons—does not go far enough. Some would like a total ban on all eviction of any kind.
The current city ordinance states that a tenant must prove to their landlord that they have lost a substantial amount of income as a result of COVID-19, whether that be job loss, reduced hours of work, work closure, or missing work to care for their child as schools in the area remain closed.
El Monte’s ordinance was meant to help address the worsening economic reality for renters. The ordinance is largely similar to eviction bans passed throughout the past several weeks in other cities such as Whittier, Pasadena, and Alhambra. Gov. Gavin Newsom passed a statewide ban on evictions for residential tenants financially hit by the pandemic.
Those measures place the burden on tenants. They must provide landlords with documentation, showing their economic hardships are tied to the coronavirus crisis.
In El Monte and other cities with moratoriums in place, a landlord can still evict tenants for “just cause” reasons, such as a tenant not paying rent for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, violating terms of a lease, or refusing to agree to a new lease.
Both state and local measures still require tenants to eventually pay whatever rent amount they owe to landlords once the public health emergency subsides.
“There is nothing in the text of the moratorium ordinance that relieves a tenant from his or her obligations to eventually pay unpaid rent once the emergency conditions caused by the COVID-19 crisis ends,” El Monte City Manager Alma Martinez said at a March 23 city council meeting. “The moratorium is only intended to keep tenants from being evicted from the crisis.”
Apartment owner trade groups, such as the California Apartment Association, urged landlords this week to freeze rents and stop evictions for tenants impacted by the coronavirus, suggesting that landlords offer flexible repayment options for renters.
After leading the Oxnard Union High School District for four years, Superintendent Penelope DeLeon is leaving to take a new job in Glendora.
In a letter to district employees, DeLeon announced that she has accepted a superintendent job in the Glendora Unified School District and will begin July 1. DeLeon explained that the new job will let her be with her husband in their Rancho Cucamonga home.
According to DeLeon, two months after she started working for Oxnard Union in 2016, her husband’s company closed a Camarillo branch, canceling his original plans to transfer.
“We have lived apart for four years, seeing each other Friday nights and Saturdays only (and sometimes less), with four years left until his retirement. I find it unbearable to continue living without the love of my life,” DeLeon wrote.
DeLeon was hired after the Oxnard Union school board voted unanimously to back her in May 2016. DeLeon was chief of secondary schools for the Fontana Unified School District at the time. She declined to be interviewed for this story.
According to the latest figures from Transparent California, a public salaries database, DeLeon received a total compensation package of $270,940 a year in 2018.
Sunny Garden Apartments 2 has purchased a 96-unit, 67K SF affordable and senior multifamily property in La Puente from La Puente Gardens for $17.9M. Built in 1992, the building at 13712 Sunkist Drive sits on 1.64 acres.
Typically when new council members are seated after an election and former ones depart, the council chambers are packed, cheers erupt, backs are slapped, hands are shaken and cake is served. But that was before coronavirus and social distancing.
On April 6 Tim Hepburn was sworn in as mayor of La Verne in a locked room, the public barred from attending. Family members watched from outdoors through floor-to-ceiling glass. Newcomers Rick Crosby and Wendy Lau filled the council seats of Hepburn and the retiring Charlie Rosales.
Outgoing members Kendrick and Rosales were commended for a lifetime of service to the city and to the country, as both served in the military.
Facing an almost empty room, plus a camera mounted in the ceiling, Kendrick gave a farewell address.
He recounted highlights from his 11 years as mayor and earlier tenure on the council and Planning Commission, which included a veterans memorial, the voter-approved sales-tax increase and the arrival of a 500-employee pharmaceutical company, Gilead, now developing a potential coronavirus treatment.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve this city, its employees and its residents,” Kendrick concluded.
In other La Verne business, a community food bank in La Verne has been helping people in need for decades, and while that’s still its core mission, it’s had to undergo some adjustments due to the coronavirus.
Volunteers with “Sowing Seeds for Life” have handed out food every other Wednesday until it runs out. What’s usually an intimate community service has been transformed into a drive-thru pick-up only service as contact with others is discouraged.
Under direction from local and federal health officials, volunteers are now placing food items directly in people’s cars in order to avoid physical contact.
For now, volunteers say supply is no concern and recipients are grateful.
The Ontario City Council on April 7 approved a temporary moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent by residential or commercial tenants adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The moratorium, which also applies to storage unit patrons, protects tenants who cannot make their rental payments for any of the following reasons:
• The tenant is unable to work while sick with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or must care for a household or family member with a suspected or confirmed case of the virus.
• The tenant experiences a layoff, loss of hours or other income reduction resulting from COVID-19, the City’s local emergency declaration, or related government response.
• The tenant must miss work to care for a child whose school was closed in response to COVID-19.
The eviction moratorium builds on the protocol established by the state of California to prohibit the removal of residents at the very time they’re being instructed to stay in their homes. It does not forgive rental payments, but provides breathing room for tenants who fall under one of the covered reasons while the City is under its state of local emergency. All missed rental payments are due to the landlord within six months of the emergency being lifted.
The moratorium provides tenants with a tool they can use in an unlawful detainer proceeding. It does not apply to eviction proceeding begun before the local emergency was declared. Tenants would need to provide verifiable documentation that they meet one of the qualifying standards.
On March 14, Ontario was among the first cities in San Bernardino County to declare a local state of emergency and implemented a comprehensive COVID-19 emergency response plan to minimize the risk of exposure, anticipate potential vulnerabilities and act quickly and responsibly to any new developments.
For updates on the City’s COVID-19 response efforts, including the eviction moratorium, please visit: www.ontarioca.gov/coronavirus
An agreement between Los Angeles County and the Sheraton Fairplex hotel has dividends for the city of Pomona, which has received a $300,000 payment as part of the deal.
The payment covers the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), also known as a bed tax, the city normally collects from hotels. Though the Sheraton is closed to the public following the state and county stay-at-home orders issued in March, Los Angeles County is using it as a quarantine facility to temporarily house first-responders and patients as the coronavirus crisis unfolds, under an agreement announced on March 23.
The city’s TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax), currently at 10%, is collected by hotels from their guests. Pomona received $2,183,989 in TOT in the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to state records.
The Sheraton payment is equivalent to what the city would have received from the hotel at full occupancy in April and May, officials said.
The agreement between the hotel and county expires May 31 with the possibility of extension to June, a city spokesman confirmed April 8.
As of the morning of April 8 according to the county, 37 people had self-quarantined in the hotel. The health status of those guests was not immediately known. Officials had said first-responders would have top priority at the hotel, but the county would not provide any details about those staying at the Sheraton.
Under the agreement, 244 rooms are available to house first-responders as well as patients who show symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, those who are awaiting test results and those who have tested positive for the disease.
L.A. County has opened seven COVID-19 medical sheltering operations, including the Sheraton. County officials negotiate group rates with each hotel, but would not provide specifics on those deals. Meanwhile, the county says it will request reimbursement from the federal government for up to 75% of its costs to administer the sheltering program.
In addition to the sheltering program at the Sheraton, Fairplex is working to help the county’s efforts to screen for COVID-19 by opening one of three free drive-up coronavirus testing sites. The screening sites are currently available by appointment only. Information is available online at coronavirus.lacity.org/Testing.
In an off-market deal, an affiliate of Providence Capital Group has acquired a 182-unit apartment community in Rancho Cucamonga from Fore Property for $68 million. Built in 2019, the community at 10130 Foothill Blvd. features six four-story buildings and 10 floor plans.
L.A. County has turned to private partners—including a lab that uses robots—to dramatically scale up testing for COVID-19.
During the week of March 22, the county announced a partnership with Curative Inc. of San Dimas. The company devised a test for the new coronavirus, and it’s working with a San Dimas lab called KorvaLabs to process the specimens.
KorvaLabs hoped to increase tests to 10,000 per day, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a UCLA epidemiologist and unpaid Curative advisor. That’s in part because the lab will use robots, but it takes humans to get everything set up, so right now it’s all hands on deck.
At 4,000 square feet, this will be one of the largest COVID-19 testing facilities in the state.
The Upland Unified School District (UUSD) Board of Education announced the hiring of Lynn J. Carmen Day as superintendent of schools, effective July 1. Carmen Day brings 28 years of experience as an educator and administrator, most recently as Chief Academic Officer for the Riverside Unified School District since 2014.
Her selection as superintendent culminates an extensive search following the announcement last November that Dr. Nancy Kelly would retire at the end of the current school year. Dr. Kelly has served as superintendent since 2013.
Carmen Day said she looks forward to dedicating her “leadership, experience and heart” to Upland.
“I’ve always appreciated the sense of community that exists here. Together we have mutual ownership in the success of our kids–creating relevant opportunities for them to succeed,” she said. “My core belief is that all students can achieve and excel at high levels regardless of background. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to tap into the talents and commitment of teachers, staff and stakeholders throughout the district and community.”
At Riverside Unified, Carmen Day has forged strong partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholder groups and has instituted procedures, practices and policies to close opportunity and achievement gaps. The district touts the highest graduation rate in Riverside County. African American students have closed the gap in A-G completion rates for acceptance into the University of California and Cal State University systems, and Hispanic students also have shown extensive academic growth over the past six years.
Before joining Riverside Unified, Carmen Day was assistant superintendent for educational services at the Covina-Valley Unified School District, and had served as principal of California High School in Whittier and Northview High School in Covina. She began her career as a high school teacher, and head basketball and track coach.
She earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Azusa Pacific University. Carmen Day and her husband have five children.
West Covina city officials have set up a coronavirus testing location at a local medical clinic. The drive-thru and walk-up site is at AltaMed, 1300 S. Sunset Ave., West Covina, and testing began April 7.
The site will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But not everyone can just walk up and be tested. Here’s how it works:
First, call (888) 499-9303 or (562) 205-4309 for a pre-screening. During the pre-screening, a health care worker will determine if you should stay home or come to the site for an evaluation.
If you do show up to the testing site without calling first, you’ll still have to call one of those numbers and go through the pre-screening process.
If a health care worker determines you should be evaluated, you then drive or walk up to the first station, where you’ll be examined for upper respiratory symptoms. If you don’t show symptoms, you then walk into the clinic for further evaluation. But if you do, you go to the next station where another health care professional will take your vitals and administer a flu or strep test.
At the last station, a health provider will give you a final assessment, diagnosis and medication for either flu or strep. Then, the provider will administer a new coronavirus test only if he or she deems it necessary.
The testing is expected to be available for three weeks, and will thereafter be evaluated week to week. While it’s not exactly a site to test as many West Covina residents as possible, Mayor Tony Wu said the city is trying to play its part to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
Funding for the testing site comes from the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package the federal government passed in March. Coronavirus testing sites are limited throughout Los Angeles County and the number of infected patients rises every day.
As of April 7, there were 6,910 confirmed coronavirus cases and 169 confirmed deaths. In West Covina, there are 15 confirmed cases, but there are many more throughout the San Gabriel Valley.
In other activity in West Covina, A real estate investment and development firm that formed last year has paid $40.9 million for a West Covina office building.
Long Beach-based Waterford Property Company acquired the 93,400-square-foot property at 1000 and 1050 Lake Drive, property records show.
The seller was Boston-based CrossHarbor Capital Partners, which acquired the building for $34.9 million in late 2015. Waterford was created in early 2019 by John Drachman, founder of Stillwater Investment Group; and Sean Rawson, founder of the Waterford Group. Waterford Property Company’ residential and commercial portfolio includes the 575,000-square-foot One World Trade Center in Long Beach, which it owns with Greenlaw Partners and Walton Street Capital.
In other Real Estate activity in West Covina, Gemdale USA has sold an 85-unit apartment building in West Covina to an Orange County-based private investor for $32M. Built in 1966, the South Hills Apartment at 2900 East Virginia Ave. sits on a 5.2-acre lot.