About Steve Scauzillo

I love journalism. I've been working in journalism for 32 years. I love communicating and now, that includes writing about environment, transportation and the foothill/Puente Hills communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Diamond Bar. I write a couple of columns, one on fridays in Opinion and the other, The Green Way, in the main news section. Send me ideas for stories. Or comments. I was opinion page editor for 12 years so I enjoy a good opinion now and then.

I’ll take four quarts of animal fat — and a tune up!

HAVE you ever had that experience where you walk into your auto mechanic’s shop and you’re stepping over muffler parts and tip-toeing around oil stains?

It’s like you’ve walked into the Stringfellow Acid Pits.
And if you’re the least bit environmentally conscious, you don’t want to know what chemicals they’re flushing from your radiator or what really happens with your car’s used motor oil.

Well, a company from Portland, Ore. — now there’s a green city if there ever was one — wants to change all that. That’s why they’ve opened Honest-1 Auto Care, marketed as yes, honest, but also environmentally friendly.
On Thursday, they opened the first green auto repair station in California at 780 N. Diamond Bar Blvd., in Diamond Bar. Coincidentally, its not far from one of the state’s largest and most powerful environmental agencies, the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

While the group claims to be straight with people about what repairs their cars need, or don’t need, a claim that can only be tested with word of mouth reviews, the other interesting aspect is its preference for environmentally certified oil brands and processes.
For example, when you go for the oil change, ask for the motor oil made from “American grown renewable animal fats.” That’s right. No actual petroleum-based anything. No dinosaurs were killed in making this oil. HHeck, I’d rather have the animal fat in the pistons and rods of my car engine than in the veins and arteries of my body.

The stuff, called G-Oil, is billed as the world’s first bio-based motor oil. For starters, you don’t have to feel guilty about the war in Iraq when you put five quarts of this stuff down your crankcase.

Or, if you don’t want to go all green, you can ask for the Eco Power Oil, which is made from used motor oil that has been stripped of contaminants. This twice-refined oil is “every bit as good as virgin,” say the ads but is produced using 85 percent less energy than the stuff made from crude oil. And Eco Power Oil reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent.

Again, you’re feeling guilty about the latest heat wave? Try some of this instead of your usual Quaker State.

“Motor oil never goes bad. If it is stripped of metals and contaminants and refined, it can be reused,” said Braden Poole, operations manager for Honest-1 Auto Care, which, though started in Portland, is now based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

It’s real smart for Honest-1 to market themselves as green. Why? Because green sells. Lately, the only growth in the service and manufacturing industry seems to be solar panels for homes , water heaters and now, green-car care service.
Honest-1 is so excited about breaking into the California market, it is working on adding electric charging stations for electric car owners.

“We are looking at ways to accommodate electric vehicles, too, as that business grows,” Poole said. “We want to be part of the California business scene.”

Finally, a company that wants to come to California. And guess why? Because of the state’s high level of environmental consciousness. Instead of knocking our state’s clean air and greenhouse gas reduction rules, politicians should be promoting them. They are a marketing tool.

Used motor oil, transmission oil, whatever else comes out of your car finds its way to a recycler. And not just any boat to China, Poole implied. “We use a collection of companies in which it is guaranteed it will be recycled,” he said.

Poole spoke to me about niche marketing. That is, selling to people who care about the environment. And to people who are uncomfortable stepping into a stereotypical mechanic shop.

So far, they’ve opened 31 locations since 2003. Twenty-two others are under development, Poole said. Often, the company will retrofit an old building and save on materials. They’ve repurposed Blockbuster Video stores and even old car washes, he said.

“We focus on conserving energy, using energy-efficient light bulbs, using less water in our landscaping,” he said. “We’re trying to impact the environment in a positive way.”
No more slipping on oil stains. Heck, maybe no more oil, period. That’s the California way.
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Knabe will introduce motion to Supervisors to keep PH Landfill closed

By Steve Scauzillo, SGVN
Posted: 09/20/2012 07:50:56 PM PDT

Supervisor Don Knabe, who has expressed strong opposition to a San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments motion to extend the operation of the Puente Hills Landfill for five more years, is asking the full Board of Supervisors to support him.

Knabe’s motion to support the scheduled closure of the county Sanitation District’s main landfill in October 2013, will go before the Board on Tuesday.

Several members of the Hacienda Heights Improvement Association said they were cautiously optimistic Knabe’s motion will be supported by a majority of the Board of Supervisors. However, they plan on attending the meeting in downtown Los Angeles to make sure they do.

Barbara Messina, president of the SGVCOG, said Thursday that the item on the joint-powers authority’s agenda would be pulled. She advised those waiting to speak to come back next month.

“I think this item needs discussion, which we haven’t had as a board. I apologize to those that came out this evening if you were here to speak on this item, ” Messina said.

The COG’s Solid Waste Advisory Group had recommended the COG board send a letter to all five county supervisors, asking them to support moving the closure date from Oct. 31, 2013 to Oct. 31, 2018. An accompanying memo by COG Interim Executive Director Fran DeLach said the committee was concerned about loss of jobs at the landfill and the effect closure will have on trash hauling rates in their cities.

In his motion, Knabe said the people of Hacienda


Heights have lived with the landfill for more than 50 years. He said the landfill — the largest in the nation — had considered closing it in 1983, 1993 and 2003 but each time, extended its conditional use permit 10 years. In 2003, the county and the Sanitation Districts said it would be the last time.
“To go back now and ask for yet more time would be completely disingenuous and unfair to the community,” read Knabe’s motion before the full board. “We must keep the promise that this County made. The Board should send a strong message that we stand by our word and move forward with a fair and equitable solution to managing the region’s solid waste,” he wrote in the motion.

Jeff Yann, a member of the Hacienda Heights group and a former engineer who worked on disposal alternatives for Southern California Edison, said Thursday it was ironic that the COG was one of the first groups back in the early 1990s to recommend alternatives.

“This group was at the forefront of developing landfill alternatives. They are turning their tails,” he said in the lobby during a break in the COG meeting.

Mike Williams, an HHIA member and a one-time member of COG, said the county and the cities have known about the eventual closure for 30 years. Putting off decisions to bury the waste in other landfills, and eventually to ship it by rail to a landfill 250 miles away in the desert, is not constructive.

“This (COG) proposal simply kicks the can down the road for another five years. Isn’t this the kind of leadership that has plagued California in the past and continues today?” he said.

$159 million school bond subject of meeting in Rowland Heights

A new school bond measure on the November ballot will be the topic of discussion Monday evening, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Rowland Heights Community Coordinating Council meeting.

The meeting is free, open to the public, and takes place at Pathfinder Community Regional Park, 18150 E. Pathfinder Road, Rowland Heights.

Rowland Unified School District Interim Superintendent Ruben Frutos is the featured speaker. Frutos will speak on why the school district feels that the $158.8 million school facilities improvement bond is needed and will provide other details on how the bond monies would be spent.

Attendees can ask questions at the end of the presentation.

Watch for closures on 60 Freeway for repaving

Caltrans will close portions of the 60 Freeway from the 605 Freeway to the 57 Freeway for a pavement project.

Three eastbound lanes will be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Sept. 12 through Sept. 14. The carpool lane will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. those same days between 605 and Azusa Avenue.

Three westbound lanes between the 57 Freeway and Azusa Avenue will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m those same days. The westbound carpool lane will be closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Closures from Friday through Sunday , Sept. 14-Sept. 16 are as follows:

Up to three eastbound lanes from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. between the 605 and Azusa Avenue; the Seventh Avenue on-ramp from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.; the carpool lane from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m. between Seventh Avenue and Hacienda Boulevard; the connector from the north-and southbound 605 to the eastbound 60 from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m.

During those days, up to three westbound lanes from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. between the 57 and Azusa Avenue; from 10 p.m. to 11 a.m. the Fairway Drive and Old Brea Canyon Road on-ramps will be closed; the carpool lane from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m. from the southbound 57 and Nogales Street; the connector from the north- and southbound 57 to the westbound 60 from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m.

Detours will be posted.

The repavement project will cost $121.5 million and is expected to be completed by fall 2014.

Don’t forget about early start

In Jay Chen’s 2011 Year-In-Review, he mentioned various milestones from 2011 for the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District. These included a failed recall attempt against him, a HLPUSD board member, and his free college application seminars.

But what he did not mention may be more important:
The changing of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years. School will start three weeks earlier and end three weeks earlier. The change was controversial and may be trend-setting.
Here’s a section from our story which ran in December:

The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District board voted 4-1 Thursday night to start the next school year on Aug. 7, three weeks earlier than usual. It is the first local school district to adopt an early start calendar for the entire PreK-12 population.

School will let out May 21, 2013, instead of in late June. A similar calendar was adopted for the 2013-14 school year.

Some may call that decision of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest school district one that affects the most people — parents and children. It affect thousands of families in La Puente and Hacienda Heights, who will have to adjust summer vacations. It could also lead to other districts doing the same thing.

Quite a milestone.