From the City Manager's Desk - April 1, 2011
A weekly report to the City Council and Community from City Manager Scott Ochoa
State Budget Talks Break Down
This week, we got word that budget talks in Sacramento were dead. While it is good that the talks ended without sacrificing redevelopment agencies, there was no resolution to this matter - thus, we are merely kicking the can down the road a bit. Still, I think the League of Cities and the California Redevelopment Agency (CRA) have been effective in mobilizing stakeholders and demonstrating to the State that redevelopment agencies are not an easy target. We shall see what the future holds.
In some good news, the Governor has begun releasing details of other substantive portions of his reform package - specifically, pension reform. Many of the initiatives on the Governor's shortlist mirror efforts by cities such as Monrovia. Hopefully, this signals that we will soon all be rowing in the same direction. Again, we shall see.
City Council Meeting Preview
The April 5 Council meeting will be a mix of interesting and important topics for Council discussion. I should note right off the bat that the scheduled public hearing regarding the Monrovia Redevelopment Agency's (MRA's) proposed sale of land to the Gold Line Construction Authority (GLCA) has been cancelled. Unfortunately, GLCA and City/MRA have been unable to come to terms at this time regarding the transaction. For the time being, the City of Monrovia - and presumably GLCA - will mull their respective positions; if a deal is possible, we will re-notice at a future date. Mayor Lutz has asked that this matter be discussed briefly under her portion of the meeting.
Under the MRA agenda, item MRA AR-1 is the consideration of the Economic Development Action Plan. Currently, the MRA provides many services and dedicates great energy to the practice of economic development. The proposed action plan encapsulates all of these efforts in a manner that is more readily understandable and accessible for new businesses and investors. Staff recommends approval.
Under Administrative Reports, AR-1 is an Emergency Preparedness Update. In the wake of the tragedy in Japan, the Council has asked that the Fire Department provide a refresher for Monrovians about proper disaster preparedness. Staff recommends that Council receive and file this report.
AR-2 is the consideration of a professional services agreement with Maxcom Data Management Inc. in the amount of $129,560 for the development of a Commercial Recycling Program. The program requirement for mandatory commercial recycling is expected to be adopted by the Air Resources Board at its April 28 meeting and would require any business that generates more than four cubic yards of trash per week, and multi-family accounts that service 16 or more units, to divert 50% of their waste stream. The State's program assigns specific activities for businesses and local jurisdictions to implement prior to July 1, 2012.
In order to comply with the State's requirement, the City will retain a consultant who will assist staff in reviewing the existing commercial solid waste and recycling programs (including Old Town), and hold stakeholder meetings through the spring to assess local business solid waste and recycling needs. Based on information received, the consultant will prepare recommendations to be presented to the City Council in July. Staff recommends approval of the professional services agreement with Maxcom Data Management, Inc.
Lastly, AR-3 is the Council-requested overview of the process utilized to develop and select a new City logo. Staff recommends Council receive and file this report.
As always, if you have any question about an item on the agenda please feel free to contact me directly.
MAP Volunteers Clean-up 210 Right-of-Way
A very special thank you to the Monrovia Area Partnership (MAP) Program neighborhood leaders and City employees who volunteered their time last weekend to clean another segment of the 210 Freeway right-of-way (north side of the freeway, from Mayflower to Monterey). These folks gave up several hours of a Saturday morning to take on a project that often gets overlooked. All of these individuals will be recognized by the City Council at an upcoming meeting.
If you would like to participate in the next MAP Volunteer Clean-up, please feel free to contact Neighborhood Services Coordinator Dan McConnell at (626) 932-5504.
East Huntington Drive Construction Underway
The resurfacing project on East Huntington Drive is well underway. The impact has been on par with what was anticipated, and we are thankful for and appreciative of the local businesses' and commuters' patience. The project is on schedule and on budget; thus, we should be ready to move to West Duarte Road in two weeks time.
If you have any questions about the project or schedule, please feel free to contact PIO Dan Bell at (626) 303-6602.
Police Chief Roger Johnson to Retire
After more than 30 years of faithful service to Monrovia, Police Chief Roger Johnson will retire on May 1. Chief Johnson has built an impressive legacy and has faced many challenges during his career with the Monrovia Police Department. In addition to being a consummate law enforcement professional, he is also an insightful leader and resourceful business manager. These last several years have been some of the most challenging that Monrovia has ever faced. I am glad Chief Johnson has been a part of this team; truly, Monrovia has been the better for it. Congratulations, and thank you, Roger.
Upon Chief Johnson's retirement, Captain Jim Hunt will become Interim Police Chief while we proceed with a recruitment process. Captain Hunt, too, is an excellent law enforcement professional, and I have every confidence that he will be able to manage the affairs of the Department during the upcoming selection process.
If you have any questions about the process, please contact me.
Articles Attached Below
- City Council Candidates Focus on South Monrovia Concerns - In a small town like Monrovia, with only something like six square miles of developed area (the rest is undeveloped hillside), the mental divides within the community are only as real as we want them to be.
- Fresh Catch. Nice new business for Old Town - Entrepreneur Adam Chu has built a great looking building on Colorado Boulevard.
- Baldwin Park Mulls Gang Injunction as Prosecutors move forward with Plans for La Puente Area Injunction - For the record, Monrovia's injunction has not been controversial, nor was its adoption.
- Brown Halts Budget Talks with GOP Lawmakers - Too soon to tell if it is good or bad...
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT
Volunteers Clean Up Freeway Rights-of-Way Saturday, March 26
On Saturday, March 26, Neighborhood Leaders Tony and Ming Alexandrovich, Larry Batice, David Polomares, Genia Mills, and Larry Spicer, along with volunteers Nancy Matthews and Lynda Noell, joined City Manager Scott Ochoa and 12 City employees who volunteered their time and energy at the right-of-way cleanup effort. The project took place along the north side of the 210 Freeway between Mayflower and Monterey Avenues. The volunteers took the initiative to help Monrovia's freeway rights-of-way look better by cutting back overgrown vegetation, cutting tall grass and removing trash and debris. The cleanup effort yielded more than 60 CalTrans bags filled with trash and cuttings along with a discarded tire and a couple of propane tanks. The project marked the third cleanup effort by Monrovia volunteers concerned about their community.
A fourth project is scheduled for Saturday, June 18, at 8 a.m., to cleanup the freeway rights-of-way at the westbound 210 Freeway exit at Huntington Drive. We hope to see you there. If you are 18 years or older and interested in participating in the next cleanup effort, contact the Monrovia Volunteer Center at (626) 256-8187 and sign up.
Development Review Committee
The Development Review Committee reviewed the following at its regularly scheduled meeting on March 30:
- 612 West Maple Avenue - Thomas Pendlebury - First and second story addition approved with the conditions that the average setback shall be corrected to include the two properties located to the east and the final materials, including roofing, windows, doors, and stucco finish shall all be approved by the Planning Division staff.
- 1013 South Mountain Avenue - Willie Leung - Wall sign was approved with the condition that only the name of the business "Q-Gifts" is allowed.
- 737 Ocean View Avenue - David Bryan Earll - Minor exception for fence height on east side of property was approved.
- 345 West Foothill Boulevard - First Church of Christian Scientists - Use for church services was forwarded to the Planning Commission with a recommendation of approval with conditions including a requirement for a parking covenant to be recorded with the County Recorder for the adjacent property to the east to allow for parking.
- Royal Oaks/Sierra Terrace - Santa Teresita, Inc. - Review of EIR, Specific Plan and Conditional Use Permit for construction of a 24-bed assisted living facility was forwarded on to the Planning Commission with a recommendation of approval.
- 915 West Huntington Drive - Matthews Signs, Inc. - Review of new sign with logo. Item was postponed until the April 13, 2011 meeting.
- 750 South Myrtle Avenue - Promotional Signs, Inc. - Two projecting wall signs were approved for "Snail's Pace."
COMMUNITY SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Spring 2011 recreation classes will begin the week of April 11 and conclude June 9. Classes for youth and teens include Baton Twirling, Ballet/Tap, Skateboard, Kidz Love Soccer, Parent Tot, Dance & Play, Wrestling, Karate and Guitar. Adult classes include AB/Thigh/Glut Workout, Fitness Bootcamp, East Coast Swing, Zumba, Crocheting, Dog Obedience, Line Dancing, Pilates, Yoga, Sign Language, and Guitar. To view the complete list of classes, please visit the City of Monrovia website at www.cityofmonrovia.org. The Community Services spring brochure is linked from the front page of the website. For more information, please contact the Department of Community Services at (626).256-8246.
Senior Spa Day
Take time for "you" by indulging in a relaxing chair massage on Thursday, April 28 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Community Center. You'll enjoy a refreshing glass of sparkling cider and learn about tips on hair and makeup for women over 50. Sponsored by Health Care Partners, this event will fill quickly, RSVPs are a must. For additional information and registration please contact the Department of Community Services at (626).256.8232.
Women Musicians Featured at Library for Women's History Month
Three local musicians were featured at the Library's Women's History Month event "Women Who Rock" on Tuesday, March 29. Featured musicians included Carol Anne Kaufman, known as the "whistling diva" who performed three pieces; Victoria Gray, a tenth grader at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts who played a viola piece; and Pamela Brownlee who sang and played the guitar. This event was attended by 100 people of all ages who stopped to listen to the three performers. The event was held as part of Community Services Cultural Series. Special thanks to Teen Advisory Board (TAB) members who helped out at the event.
Teen Advisory Board
The Teen Advisory Board will hold it's regularly schedule meeting on Monday, April 4 at 4:00 p.m. in the Library's Community Room. Teens will be planning upcoming events, and getting ready to elect new officers. New teens are invited to participate. For additional information please call Librarian Elizabeth Schneider at (626).256.8274 or email her at
Author Jason O. Silva Will Visit the Library
The Library presents Jason O. Silva, author of the new children's book The Tale of Edgar Trunk, a story of an orphan living in a dirty sludge factory, who goes on the adventure of a lifetime. The author will be speaking and signing books on Wednesday, April 6 at 3:30 p.m. in the Library's Community Room.
Friends of the Monrovia Public Library Monday Night Movie
The next Friends of the Monrovia Public Library Monday Night Movie for families will be held on Monday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Library's Community Room. The movie is free and appropriate for all ages. For this month's title, please call the Monrovia Public Library at (626).256.8274.
Personnel responded to 58 emergency calls from 0800 hours March 22 to 0800 hours on March 29 2011.
Community Wildfire Protection Plan
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire 100th Anniversary. The following retrospective of the tragic factory fire that claimed the lives of 146 garment workers is from the website of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA): http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/about/chiefs-corner/032411.shtm
Posted on March 24, 2011 by Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines: March 25th is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. As we look back over a century of phenomenal improvements in fire and life protection, we know that this fire ushered in a new era in workplace safety and workers rights. Up until this time, the focus of the insurance and building industries was on protecting property. The Asch Building was designed to withstand a fire and it did. However, the workers and contents were consumed. There were no codes, as we know them today that dealt with life safety.
New York City Fire Chief Edward Croker, an early fire prevention advocate, had stated on various occasions before the fire, that the fire department could not effectively fight a fire above the 7th floor. Ladder 20, the tallest in New York City, could only reach the 6th floor. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was on the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors.
The most important code changes that came out of this fire were the requirements for fire drills, limiting smoking in the workplace, and the posting of exit signs. There was no fire alarm system then and very few telephones to call in a fire. Locked doors were a major issue along with very narrow stairs.
After this fire, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as well as local authorities and state legislatures, especially New York, and eventually the Federal government changed the emphasis from simply preserving cities from fire to trying to safeguard lives.
In the next few years, the new Board made changes to the Municipal Building Code, which provided a measure of protection by requiring the existence of safety devices such as fireproof materials and stairwells, fire alarms, extinguishers, and hoses. They also prohibited smoking in factories by 1916.
I hope you have taken the time or will in the near future to revisit the story about this sad but important event in our history. With each of the fires that have taken life and property from us, we have learned and we have worked to make the protection of life and property so much better. Let us not forget, however, that "the past is prologue," which is engraved on the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and reminds us to be ever vigilant to not repeat the tragedies of the past.
The motivation for disaster preparedness efforts remain high as the world continues to watch the Japanese crisis unfold. More detailed information related to disaster preparedness will be discussed at the April 5, 2011 City Council meeting, but in the meantime here are the facts as of Wednesday, March 30:
More than 11,000 bodies have been recovered, but officials say the final death toll is expected to exceed 18,000.
Hundreds of thousands of people remain homeless, their homes and livelihoods destroyed. Damage could amount to $310 billion - the most expensive natural disaster on record.
The mission to stabilize the power plant has been fraught with setbacks, as emergency crews have dealt with fires, explosions and radiation scares in the frantic bid to prevent a complete meltdown. The plant has been leaking radiation that has made its way into vegetables, raw milk and tap water as far away as Tokyo. Residents within twelve miles of the plant have been ordered to leave and some nations have banned the imports of food products from the Fukushima region.
Highly toxic plutonium was the latest contaminant found seeping into the soil outside the plant, officials said Monday. Safety officials said the amounts did not pose a risk to humans, but the finding supports suspicions that dangerously radioactive water is leaking from damaged nuclear fuel rods.
During the last seven day period, the Police Department handled 438 service events, resulting in 79 investigations. Following are the last week's highlighted issues and events:
Formative Years Project
The Monrovia Police Department's classes for the Formative Years Project are scheduled to begin May 5. The Formative Years Project is a program aimed at parents and their children, grades 1 through 3, which introduces important life values and skills to children at an early age. Providing this training when children are young begins the process of building healthy and safe practices that can set the stage for a lifetime of success and healthy living.
Robbery Suspect Arrested
On March 26, an officer went to a residence in the 700 block of Monterey Court in an attempt to locate a wanted robbery suspect, but no one answered the door. Approximately one hour later, the suspect came into the Police Department lobby. The officer contacted the female suspect, who admitted to committing two robberies in San Dimas. The suspect was arrested and a detective contacted the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and arrangements were made for a deputy to take custody of the suspect.
Driving Under the Influence / Failure to Obey a Lawful Order - Suspects Arrested
On March 27 at 1:42 a.m., officers were at a business in the 300 block of South Myrtle at the request of security to provide assistance while a rowdy group of subjects were being cleared from the premises. One of the officers was trying to stop a vehicle for speeding that was approaching him. The vehicle momentarily stopped as it reached the intersection of Myrtle and Lime, the driver rolled down his window, but then sped away traveling the wrong way on a one way street at a high rate of speed. An area search was conducted and the vehicle was located and stopped at Fifth and Chestnut. The driver was determined to be driving under the influence and was arrested. The three passengers were arrested for being drunk in public.
Driving Under the Influence - Suspect Arrested
On March 27 at 1:56 a.m., an officer was following a vehicle westbound in the 300 block of East Huntington that was intermittently lane straddling all the way to Magnolia, where the vehicle was stopped. The driver was determined to be driving under the influence. The driver was arrested. He was found to be on felony probation for burglary and had a felony, $250,000 warrant out for his arrest.
Driving Under the Influence - Suspect Arrested
On March 27 at 3:10 a.m., an officer observed a vehicle heading north on Myrtle under the 210 Freeway. The vehicle swerved, almost striking the curb, and then went through a red light at Central and Myrtle. The officer stopped the driver and through investigation, determined the driver to be under the influence. The driver was arrested.
PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT
Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation
In an effort to promote water conservation, a friendly online "water wise" competition between cities will take place April 1 through April 30, challenging water conservation among participants. The following agencies are supporting the challenge: The non-profit Wyland Foundation, Toyota, AES Corporation, and KCAL/KCBS, along with numerous water agencies in Southern California. Participants are encouraged to register for the commitment at no cost. Prizes include tickets to upcoming Angels baseball game, Disneyland or a week's worth of half-price admission to the Aquarium of the Pacific for the entire city. To make your commitment, visit www.mywaterpledge.com/socal on behalf of the City of Monrovia to save water and reduce pollution.
Southern California Edison (SCE) Planned Outages
SCE has scheduled electrical system maintenance power outages on the following days and locations:
Planned Outage #447767 - Hillcrest Boulevard. southwest of Canyon Avenue, April 4, 2011 from 9am - 3pm. No commercial customer and 44 residential customers will be affected.
SCE sent notices directly to affected customers prior to the outage. If you have any questions regarding the planned outage, please contact SCE at (800) 611-1911 or visit SCE's website at: www.sce.com/outage.
ARRA Project - C-3028, Street and Traffic Signal Improvements
On Thursday, March 31, the contractor is scheduled to continue construction improvements along Huntington Drive near the Myrtle intersection. Please observe all construction, traffic detour, and temporary "no parking" signs. Construction is expected to be completed by May.
ARRA Project - C-3013, Street Resurfacing Project
The first phase of street resurfacing project along Huntington Drive from Shamrock Avenue to Mountain Avenue started Monday, March 28. Broken curbs and gutters were removed and replaced. Selected asphalt pavement spot repairs were also completed. The next phase of this construction is the cold milling process which is the removal of approximately two inches of asphalt pavement wearing surface. The cold milling of asphalt pavement will be done on Monday, April 4 and Tuesday, April 5. Asphalt resurfacing or the overlay of two inches of new asphalt surface will be completed on Wednesday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7. On Friday April 8, miscellaneous clean up work will be completed. There will be no parking allowed along Huntington Drive within the construction zone. One lane of through traffic (eastbound and westbound) will remain open at all times. Please observe all traffic signs for your safety. Construction is expected to be completed in about three weeks.
Metro - Bridge Widening and Sound Wall Construction
Sema Construction Company continues overhead work on the bridges at Fifth Avenue and Chestnut Avenue. On March 28, Chestnut Avenue was closed to remove false work from the Bridges. Sema filed an application with Southern California Edison requesting power to a newly installed power metered pedestal, within the City of Monrovia's right-of-way located at Evergreen Avenue and Mayflower Avenue.
Water Conservation for Monrovia Businesses
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California as part of its "Save-Water, Save-a-Buck Program" is offering commercial, industrial, and institutional customers rebates ranging from $3 to $1,750 on 12 different water saving devices. Examples include:
- Commercial high-efficiency toilets using less than 1.28 gallons per flush
- Ultra low or zero water urinals
- Weather based irrigation controllers
- Air cooled ice making machines
- Dental vacuum pumps
All industrial, institutional, and commercial customers of the Monrovia Water System are eligible. Reservations must be made prior to purchasing the equipment and are on a first come, first served basis. For more information, visit www.bewaterwise.com.
Weekly Inspection Report
267 N. Myrtle Avenue - So.Ca. Gas
270 N. Myrtle Avenue
270 N. Myrtle Avenue - So.Ca. Gas
344 N. Myrtle Avenue
486 Patrician Way
1116 S. Magnolia Avenue - So Cal Gas
1122 S. Magnolia Avenue - So Cal Gas
1521 Pilgrim Way - So Cal Gas
239 W. Cypress
450 W. Duarte Road - SCE
506 W. Duarte Road - SCE
958 Ridgeside Drive
308 N. Fifth Avenue - SCE
316 N. Fifth Avenue - SCE
236 W. Huntington Drive - SCE
150 W. Colorado Boulevard
937 Colorado Bouelvard - SCE
W/S South Myrtle S/o El Norte Avenue - Concrete Repairs
Cal-Trans/Metro - Bridge Widening & Sound Wall Construction
2010-2011 Street Resurfacing Construction
Street and Traffic Signal Construction
Street Light Repairs
1242 S. California Avenue
223 S. Myrtle Avenue
Traffic Signal Repairs
- Mountain/Lemon - The pedestrian push button assembly for east/west pedestrian crossing was replaced on Monday, March 28.
- Duarte/Mountain - The intersection went into four-way flash and was reset as necessary on Tuesday.
- LED assemblies were retrofitted this week for illuminated street-name signs at the following intersections along the Huntington Drive corridor: Huntington/Magnolia, Huntington/Myrtle, Huntington/California.
Traffic Paint Maintenance
Repainted a total of 985 lineal feet of existing red curbing located at the section of town bordered by Huntington Drive and Foothill Boulevard and from the eastern city limits to Myrtle Avenue.
Traffic Sign Repair / Replacement
Replaced faded "U-Turn" sign at Santa Fe School. Replaced "Stop" signs located at: Ivy and Maple, Magnolia and Maple, and Maple and Magnolia, 840 W. Chestnut, and Peck Road and Wyland Way.
Lime and Alta Vista
El Norte and Estrella
Maple and 2nd Baptist
517 E. Maple
411 E. Maple
Central and Mayflower
Almond and Canyon (2)
Duarte Road and Peck Road
Lime and Alta Vista
Valle Vista and Greystone
Royal Oaks and Shamrock
California and Almond
Lime and Alta Vista
Cypress and Alta Vista
824 S. California
1800 S. Shamrock
Duarte and California
Duarte and Myrtle
Duarte Road and Peck Road
Walnut and Monterey
Mountain and Olive
Mountain and Olive
509 E. Olive
(2) 712 S. 5th
(3) Encino and Huntington Drive
(1) 214 Cypress
(4) 115,119,120,126 W. Cypress
Replaced 400 square feet of damaged concrete at the Mary Wilcox Youth Center
Removed mattress from right-of-way at 325 S. 5th
Removed abandoned couch from street at 831 W. Olive
623 meters were read and recorded
1 water meter was replaced
37 service requests were completed
97 shut off notices were delivered
1 water meter lid was replaced
Water consumption is 28.1million gallons, a decrease of 34% compared to reported water usage at this time last year. Monthly rainfall totals are currently at 3.92 inches, an increase of 2.92 inches compared to reported rainfall at this time last year. Seasonal totals are currently at 25.88 inches, an increase of 6.99 inches compared to reported rainfall at this time last year.
Department of Health Services Required Water Samples
17 water system samples
1 well sample
6 water treatment facility samples
1 - 1" water service was repaired
4 - ¾" angle valves were replaced
4 - 1" angle valve was replaced
16,000 feet of sewer mains were cleaned
200 feet of sewer mains were video inspected
22 fire hydrants were inspected and flushed
51 water main system valves were operated and inspected
11 underground service alert utility location requests were completed
Crews upgraded two damaged fire hydrants
In an effort to keep up with the increase of weed growth from the past rain and warmer weather, staff included the Huntington Drive medians and other traffic Islands around town during their regular routine. The "New Hours of Operation" signage was added to the Library Park play area.
One more street tree was added this week. A Crepe Myrtle tree was planted in a vacant tree well located at the 600 block of West Huntington Drive. Four other trees in Old Town were trimmed, and two trees located on the 1100 block of Orange Avenue were trimmed.
FOR YOUR CALENDARS
Tuesday, April 5 - Last day to request vote by mail ballot for Municipal Election
Tues., April 5, 7:30 p.m. - City Council Meeting
Tuesday, April 12 - Municipal Election
Tues., April 19, 7:30 p.m. - City Council Meeting
Sat., April 23, 9:45 a.m. - Spring Egg Hunt/Healthy Kids Day; Recreation Park
Sat., April 30, 9:30 a.m. - Smart Gardening Workshop; Recreation Park (near Boys & Girls Club)
Sun., May 1, 2 p.m. - Old Town Cinco de Mayo Celebration; 100 block East Colorado Blvd.
Mon., May 2, 5 p.m. - Monrovia Reads Cinco de Mayo Festival; Doubletree Hotel
City Council candidates focus on South Monrovia concerns
Janette Williams, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/29/2011 02:28:47 PM PDT
MONROVIA - Four candidates running for two open seats on the City Council faced off at an election forum that focused on issues in south Monrovia, historically home to the city's African-American and Latino residents.
Incumbents Becky Shevlin, appointed to the council two years ago when former mayor Rob Hammond resigned, and veteran Councilman Tom Adams are vying with first-time candidates Jason Cosylion and Chris Zeiglerin in the April 12 election.
Mayor Mary Ann Lutz, who was in the audience at Monday evening's forum, is running unopposed.
The three-hour forum at the Open Door Church on South Cypress Avenue was the first to target the specific concerns of south Monrovia residents, organizer Gwendolyn Jones said.
"One reason we haven't had one before is that we have no amenities, period," Jones said Tuesday. "We used the church to point out there's no cultural or community center here for this type of function." Jones said she was "thrilled" at the turnout of about 50. "I think this was a very good start," she said.
The audience's written questions touched on candidates' ideas for reining in public employees' pensions, providing more affordable housing, increasing property and sales tax revenues, predicting employment opportunities presented by the Gold Line, enforcing codes citywide - including removing abandoned furniture - and the flap over spending $7,000 on the design for a proposed new city logo.
All four candidates spoke of the need to get out the vote in south-of-the-freeway neighborhoods, where turnout is often low. They agreed that providing a recreational park should be a priority for the underserved area.
"The biggest need is for a park on the south side of the city," said Cosylion, adding that the city should look to grants and corporate donations for funding. "The money is there," he said. "It can be built and should be implemented without delay.
Adams called the park a "great idea," but said the main focus should be making sure south-side residents "feel a part of the community" where many have lived for generations, and are being treated equally.
Shevlin said educating and training the community through such civic programs as the Monrovia Area Partnership and "talking to neighbors" about code violations could help. "If you see something, report it," she said.
"It's not just the south side that gets ignored," said Zeigler, a north Monrovia resident who said no one responded to his calls offering to make his own repairs to the sidewalk outside his house.
Cosylion promised to bring "fresh ideas" and a focus on marketing the city if he is elected. Zeigler said he would focus on "big picture" economics as the city faces financial challenges and build community relationships.
Shevlin said she would continue to be an "independent voice" on the council, while working as part of a team to build the city's economic future. Adams said the city can "come along together" to meet its goals for everyone.
The candidates agreed there was a danger in considering one area of the city as separate, with separate concerns.
"We all want the same things," Adams said in his closing statement. "We all need to make sure two years from now, people aren't saying, 'How come south Monrovia is treated differently?' Some of it may be real, some perceived, but we have to work together to make it a better place."
Fresh catch - Importer founds seafood grill in Monrovia
Erick Galindo, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/29/2011 11:24:24 PM PDT
MONROVIA - Adam Chu's career started with a classified ad 13 years ago.
"My mom found this 'help wanted' ad in the paper and made me apply," Chu recalled. "She wanted me to get a job, so I did. I started early and I learned the hard way about this business."
The Bradbury resident went on to launch a lucrative career as a seafood importer under the company he founded, Five Star Seafoods. Next month, he will fulfill a dream and reach another milestone by opening his own seafood restaurant, BigShrimps Fish Grill, in Monrovia.
"I've always had this dream of opening this restaurant using this stuff that I deal with on a daily basis," he said.
His grill is scheduled to open April 17 at 123 E. Colorado Blvd., a date approved by his mother using the ancient Chinese system of aesthetics, which is believed to help one improve life by receiving positive qi, or energy flow.
"I think it has to do with feng shui. She went and saw some guy about what were acceptable days to open a business," he said. "I wanted to open it on a different date, but it wasn't on the approved list so I chose the 17th."
Chu said the restaurant is named after his old America Online screen name, Bigshrimps.
"Whenever I sent e-mails, I always got a lot of compliments on my screen name," he said. "So I told myself that if I ever opened a restaurant I would use it as the name."
Chu spent several years researching seafood restaurants in the area and he anticipates BigShrimps will be a one-of-a-kind experience for seafood lovers.
"There is nothing in our area like it," he said. "It's a fresh, casual seafood grill. And my goal is to keep nearly everything on the menu at less than $10."
Chu concedes that there are a few items that will be nearly impossible to offer for less than $10 because the wholesale price is already above that mark.
"But I see restaurants that offer fresh salmon for $22," he said. "I import this stuff so I know what it really cost, and a there aren't a lot of restaurants that offer fresh seafood at a reasonable price."
Chu said that he learned early in his career that quality is the most important part of his business.
"Price isn't always the most important factor," he said. "Quality - making sure your product is fresh and good - is the most important thing you can do."
Chu believes he has an advantage over the competition because he is skipping the middle man and supplying his own products through Five Star Seafoods.
"I import fresh fish from Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand and from our own Gulf of Mexico," he said. "So I'm offering fresh fish from all over the world.
Chu even moved the operations of Five Star from Arcadia to the second floor of the new building that will house his restaurant.
"I found this location three years ago," he said. "It was an old restaurant that I wanted to remodel to include my office space."
The remodeling plans didn't work out, so Chu decided to raze the building and build his dream location.
"It's a beautiful building, and it's exactly what I always wanted," he said. "Everything was hand cut and pieced together. It's beautiful."
Baldwin Park mulls gang injunction as prosecutors move forward with plans for La Puente area injunction
Thomas Himes, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/29/2011 04:02:27 PM PDT
BALDWIN PARK - City officials may seek a gang injunction in an effort to curb violence, graffiti and other crimes committed by members of area street gangs and tagging crews.
Police Chief Lili Hadsell is scheduled to report to the City Council tonight on gang injunctions and their potential role in curbing crime in the city.
"What I keep hearing over and over again (from area police chiefs) is it's not the be all, end all," Hadsell said. "But gang members are left less emboldened to go out and commit crimes."
The meeting is open to the public. It will start at 6 p.m. in City Hall room 307.
Mayor Manuel Lozano and Councilwoman Monica Garcia both said they think an injunction would benefit Baldwin Park, but they plan a more in-depth examination before moving forward.
"I think for me, in Baldwin Park, it would take us to the next level of addressing these individuals I refer to as terrorists," Lozano said of hardened gang members.
Baldwin Park's consideration of a gang injunction comes as prosecutors are moving forward with plans to obtain a gang injunction in the neighboring county area of Bassett.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Fern said a judge will consider issuing a temporary injunction in that area on April 19.
If the judge approves the injunction, it would make it a misdemeanor for suspected gang members and their associates to be seen together, use gang signs, be in public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and hang out in area parks, with some exceptions for activities like school.
The proposed injunction in that area would feature a sprawling boundary that encompasses La Puente, Bassett, Valinda and parts of Industry and West Covina.
It would target about 1,300 members of the rival street gangs Puente 13 and Bassett Grande.
"I am in the process of submitting more recent evidence of violent activities by Puente 13 and Bassett Grande ...," Fern said in a written statement.
He said he would detail that recent activity in the coming weeks.
Although it is unclear whether a shooting in Valinda early Sunday was gang-related, a 24-year-old man was killed and three others were hospitalized when gunfire erupted at a house party, sheriff's officials said.
"We're looking into that possibility, but we can't say it's gang-related right now," sheriff's homicide Lt. Dave Dolson said.
While Garcia and Lozano cited a 2009 gang injunction in Monrovia as a model of success, some there railed against it last year.
Many of those who opposed the Monrovia injunction said law enforcement was less than discriminating about who they considered a gang member.
"Sometimes (police) would rely on stale data and informants who will imply things," NAACP Pasadena chapter president Joe Brown said of methods used to identify alleged gang members and enforce the injunction.
Brown said the errors in identification served to undermine the relationship between law-abiding citizens and law enforcement.
Baldwin Park officials have yet to consider which gangs or what boundaries a gang injunction would feature, Hadsell said.
The rival East Side Bolen Parque and North Side Bolen Parque are the city's two largest gangs.
Late last year and earlier this year, the city experienced a spat of gang violence that started with the Christmas Eve slaying of an East Side Bolen Parque member.
The murder disrupted a downward trend in violence that included the city's lowest homicide rate in three decades last year, with two murders compared to five in 2009 and eight in 2008.
In the weeks that followed the Christmas Eve slaying, gang members carried out two more shootings, leaving a 16-year-old with a gunshot wound to the head.
The city's numerous tagging crews also took to the streets in the wake of the murder, scrawling and spraying graffiti on surfaces throughout the city.
"I think that was a reaction to the shooting and killing of a gang member on Christmas Eve," Hadsell said.
Hadsell responded last month by assigning two officers to a graffiti task force that works with the department's gang detectives.
"Since they have been working exclusively graffiti, they have made a number of arrests," Hadsell said.
Despite the policing measure, tagging crews continue to have violent conflicts with gang members.
A man sustained a bullet wound to his shoulder Thursday during a dispute between a tagging crew and members of East Side Bolen Parque, police said.
Officers arrested one man on a parole violation, but the shooter remains at-large, police said.
Brown halts budget talks with GOP lawmakers
Staff and Wire Reports
Posted: 03/29/2011 06:18:37 PM PDT
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown says he is ending budget talks with Republican lawmakers, casting doubt over what steps he and the Legislature will take to close the rest of California's deficit.
Brown issued a statement Tuesday saying he was ending negotiations after GOP leaders released a list of 53 demands they said had to be met in exchange for their support for a special election.
The Democratic governor and majority Democrats want to ask California voters to extend temporary tax increases enacted two years ago as part of their solution to close the deficit.
Republicans said the impasse stems from Brown's unwillingness to enact public employee pension reform, cut taxes or create new jobs.
"I didn't come up here and sacrifice and be away from my family so we could do another smoke-and-mirrors, band-aid budget," Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, said.
The tea party-backed assemblyman, who represents a broad swath of foothill communities from Sierra Madre to Claremont and the high desert communities of Victorville and Hesperia, said Republicans want pension and regulatory reforms, a spending cap and several other major concessions. Additionally the GOP wants to scrap Brown's proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies.
"There's no regulatory reform (in Brown's proposals), no pension reform, nothing to address out-of-control unions who don't want to pay their fair share. Until we get those things, we're not solving California's problems."
In ending the talks, Brown says he will focus his efforts in the coming weeks on "speaking directly to Californians" about the budget crisis.
His office did not immediately return a telephone call seeking more information.
The Democratic governor wants to ask voters to extend temporary increases in the sales, income and vehicle taxes for five years to help ease the state's $26.6 billion budget deficit.
The GOP proposal also calls for only an 18-month extension of the taxes to appear on the ballot. They also are seeking to include pension and a spending cap for voters to decide upon.
State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, one of five Republicans who had been talking with Brown in recent weeks, responded by saying he also does not see a path to compromise.
Cannella blamed public employee unions, trial attorneys and other Democratic Party supporters for their "refusal to challenge the status quo" on GOP priorities that include pension reforms, a hard cap on state spending and measures to promote job creation.
Local Democrats had mixed reactions to Brown's announcement.
State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, praised Brown's efforts and said he was not willing to give up on a compromise.
"I'm not ready to throw in the towel because I think the governor is very committed to a bipartisan solution," Portantino said. "So I'm hopeful that on the Republican side of the aisle they're just trying to figure out what they want."
On the other hand, state Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, said even though he was hopeful negotiations could resume, he was disappointed.
"With so much at stake it's important for all of us to be at the bargaining table," Eng said. "I think that the Democrats have shown we've been willing to make the tough decisions, and unfortunately it appears Republicans have added a lot of what I'd consider non-budgetary issues to the negotiations and I think that's what ultimately stalled the negotiations."
If Democrats fail in their effort to get bipartisan support for a special election, state Sen. Darrel Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and others have floated the idea of trying to get it on the ballot by a simple majority vote. Should that succeed, the vote almost certainly would be disputed in court because legislation related to taxes and ballot measures require a two-thirds majority.
Brown and his supporters, including unions, could also try to qualify the initiative by collecting enough signatures to appear on the November ballot.
Portantino said he was optimistic Republicans would come back to the bargaining table.
"I believe the public wants a bipartisan solution to the budget situation and I think at end of day Republicans will recognize that and meet the governor's overtures," Portantino said. "I'm not willing to believe the Republicans will walk away."
Meanwhile, Sacramento's budget gridlock was taking to the airwaves. The California Teachers Association launched television ads urging lawmakers to let California voters weigh in on whether they want to extend the taxes or face further deep cuts to state programs, including billions of dollars to public schools.
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity launched radio ads targeting two Central Valley lawmakers who were negotiating with Brown on a possible deal, Cannella and Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto.