UPDATED: If Measure A (Azusa Rock Quarry referendum) is turned down, could Azusa just renegotiate a new agreement?

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The Tribune had an editorial meeting with members of the Canyon City Alliance and Azusa council members Robert Gonzales and Uriel Macias today.

After listening to their pitch, an interesting comment came about during discussions about Measure A and the Azusa Rock Quarry mining project.

It is and has been the position of the majority of the City Council, Azusa, and the CCA that a no vote on Measure A would only nullify Vulcan Materials Co.’s amended mining plan’s development agreement, but that its use permit would stand. Essentially, the mining would be allowed to continue but many of the benefits negotiated by the city with Vulcan Materials would be lost (a fact that remains questionable).

Now, of course that all comes with the caveat that legal challenges – and you can be sure there would be one – could argue the CUP and development agreement are tied together and upon success in a legal challenge, they both could go down.

But barring that hypothetical, the question was posed what would stop Azusa from negotiating a new development agreement connected to the project if this one is rejected?

The answer, in short, was nothing, according to Macias.

The long answer was no one knows what will happen during a no vote. Litigation? New deal? It is all something of an unknown, Macias said.

“With (Measure A) we know whats going to happen,” if it is passed, Macias said. “With a no, we don’t know. (Supporting Measure A) is us taking control of our own destiny.”

But to me, that said that, barring a legal victory to the contrary, a no vote on Measure A could lead to the city renegotiating new benefits with Vulcan. Whether or not Vulcan will listen, is certainly a question. And the company would then be put in the position of having a significant amount of leverage.

UPDATE: Azusa Councilman Keith Hanks phoned me and reminded me that there is a one year “cooling off” period following a referendum of a council action. So if a new deal were to be struck, it would have to be done in 2012.

UPDATE TWO: Macias called and had this statement regarding the potential for future negotiations:

“We have done that already. We told them no when they wanted to expand to 270 acres and the first time in May when we negated it and went back to the negotiating table. We have in fact already done that.”

On a related note, I asked Canyon City Alliance officials if they would be donating to candidates in the City Council election. President Liz Ramirez said those discussions have not taken place with board members. Chamber of Commerce board member Mercedes Castro said that after Jan. 26 (the referendum special election is Jan. 25) the group intends to disband.

UPDATE: (I really hope this is the last one, I have received more phone calls on this post than any other.) Castro called me and told me she misspoke when saying the CCA would disband following the referendum election. The group will still exist, but may close its offices, she said.

Macias then jumped in and said he would not accept any money from Canyon City Alliance.

It is well known that Vulcan is a member of the CCA, contributes services and is the major source of funding for the group.

(An earlier version of this story identified Mercedes Castro as the Chamber of Commerce President. Castro is the former president.)

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

  • Mark

    Ah perfect – yet another example of the American people cutting themselves off at the legs and then bitching that they’re handicapped later down the line.

    This is one of the leading reasons why so many jobs are being outsourced and companies are moving out of the country.

    Our mining industry is nearly non-existent and if it’s not related to union issues, it’s because the public complains about noise, or dust, or who knows what else.

    If the mining for rare earth minerals isn’t a clear example of why this quarry should remain open, I don’t know what is.

    Regarding rare earth minerals: we have ONE remaining American mining company left that focuses on that industry (despite the fact that we INVENTED the technology), MolyCorp, and they are flourishing right now because all the other companies either moved to, or got bought out by the Chinese.

    China is doing a great job over there too (no sarcasm), but now they have a choke-hold on that industry.

    We complain the economy is down, yet we don’t want to make new jobs; we complain that we need more security at the airports, yet we don’t want to be inconvenienced.

    I just don’t get it anymore.

  • Tired

    We are tired of renegotiations. No renegotiation period. YES vote – measure A passes. No vote – Vulcan fights it out with Duarte in court.

  • Jeri Vogel

    Canyon City Alliance is a Vulcan sponsored “Astro Turf” (as in fake “Grass Roots”) Political Committee to endorse Measure A. Why, after the election, would they continue?

    Hopefully all the candidates will refuse monies from Vulcan since the Canyon City Alliance is merely Vulcan in sheeps clothing.

  • Bruce

    This ridiculous talk about importing common granite for aggregate from China is utter nonsense. There are gravel pits galore all over the place. Granite is the most common base rock on the planet and we don’t need to destroy 80 more acres of our mountains to get it.
    The desire to mine the entirety of the site was simply a desire to mine the expanded western-most 80 acres. The East side of Fish Canyon had not been mined for at least twenty years. The mining company, Azusa Rock, stopped mining the east side of Fish canyon for their own reasons over 20 years ago. Vulcan bought the mine and the obligation to reclaim “… ongoing with soft contours matching the natural topography.” This was in 1999 and since then Vulcan has done no mining or reclamation on the east side of Fish Canyon. There was no obligation to use mining benches as reclamation. The 1988 agreement clearly states almost everything we are being told now. All the new destruction is on the desired West side. Now they want 80 more acres above that West side and have renamed their move a “swap”. They are not going to give the City of Azusa those Eastern 80 acres, but rather offer not to mine something have not mined or had a desire to mine. The mining issue has always been fraught with deception and greed. Today’s struggle is no different. Show us one “reclaimed” hillside or mountain that Vulcan mines anywhere in the world. Why are we shown animated projections of what reclamation might look like instead of proof? Are we willing to be guinea pigs for more lies and deception? I think not.
    Vote No on Measure A

  • Jeri Vogel

    To Mark:
    I won’t even address the “getting gravel from China” aspect of this. Go to Corona and check out the Vulcan Gravel Mine there.

    To Tired:
    Correction:

    Yes Vote:

    Duarte fights it out in court with Azusa, with Azusa using Vulcans money (so Vulcan promises). Duarte is suing to stop the passing of the EIR and CUP. Their law suit will only stop if a No Vote stops DA and the DA fail negates the EIR and CUP.
    Voting Yes will only continue and complicate the suit.

    No Vote:

    Worst possible scenario: Azusa goes back to the drawing board with Vulcan for a new Development Agreement and the EIR and CUP stand as is, with Duarte still fighting to stop the EIR and CUP. (according to some)

    Best Possible scenario: The CUP and EIR are voided by the failing of the Development Agreement and Vulcan and Azusa go back to the drawing board, and Duarte drops it’s lawsuit to stop the EIR and CUP.

  • BruceKnoles

    This ridiculous talk about importing common granite for aggregate from China is utter nonsense. There are gravel pits galore all over the place. Granite is the most common base rock on the planet and we don’t need to destroy 80 more acres of our mountains to get it.
    The desire to mine the entirety of the site was simply a desire to mine the expanded western-most 80 acres. The East side of Fish Canyon had not been mined for at least twenty years. The mining company, Azusa Rock, stopped mining the East side of Fish Canyon for their own reasons over 20 years ago. Vulcan bought the mine and the obligation to reclaim “… ongoing with soft contours matching the natural topography.” This was in 1999 and since then Vulcan has done no mining or reclamation on the East side of Fish Canyon. There was no obligation to use mining benches as reclamation. The 1988 agreement clearly states almost everything we are being told now. All the new destruction is on the desired West side. Now they want 80 more acres above that West side and have renamed their move a “swap”. They are not going to give the City of Azusa those Eastern 80 acres, but rather offer not to mine something have not mined or had a desire to mine. The mining issue has always been fraught with deception and greed. Today’s struggle is no different. Show us one “reclaimed” hillside or mountain that Vulcan mines anywhere in the world. Why are we shown animated projections of what reclamation might look like instead of proof? Are we willing to be guinea pigs for more lies and deception? I think not.
    A No vote an Measure A will save 80 acres of our beautiful San Gabriel Mountain Foothills in Azusa.

  • Bruce Knoles

    To Mark:
    “If the mining for rare earth minerals isn’t a clear example of why this quarry should remain open, I don’t know what is.”
    Your statements show just how misled and confused people can be on this issue. Calling common granite rare is quite a stretch.

  • Bruce Knoles

    Calling common granite rare is very much an indication of just how misled and confused people can be on this issue.

  • http://www.nominingexpansion.org Rich Deem

    Voting NO on Measure A is the beginning of getting mining out of the city of Azusa. We are going to keep Canyon City Alliance busy for years to come. Vulcan has already spent more money fighting the people of Azusa about the referendum in the last 5 months than they have spent trying to bribe them with donations over the last few years. Just think how many programs they could have supported with the hundreds of thousand of dollars they are wasting trying to keep their sweetheart corporate deal with the City.

    One should take note that the Azusa city attorney was originally saying defeating Measure A would not stop mining under the revised CUP. However, in the city attorney’s “impartial” analysis on the sample ballot, she has backed off that claim saying, “it is unknown whether mining operations under the modified CUP and Reclamation Plan could proceed.” Since Vulcan is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get Measure A passed, it is obvious that their lawyers think defeating A will stop the revised plan and their windfall profits from the expansion of mining.

    Another note: The EIR expires after one year, so if Measure A is rejected, Vulcan will have to go through the entire process again. Could be late 2012 before it comes up to the Council again.

  • Mark

    Just to clarify: I wasn’t saying that granite is rare.

    I was merely making an analogy that when there are resources that can be mined locally, but that process is obstructed, it forces us to obtain those same resources through imports – regardless of its rarity.

  • David

    First Vulcan says “No” on measure A will not stop the mining, and then they say it will.

    First city staff says the ’88 agreement puts an end to mining in 2038 then Keith Hanks campaigns at the city board meeting saying that the 2038 agreement will not stop it.

    First Macias says that they can renegotiate then he says they won’t because they already have.

    First Castro says that the CAA will be disbanded after the election then she says they won’t.

    They cant seem to keep their deceptions straight.
    This is what happens when Vulcan’s puppets go off-script.

  • Bruce Knoles

    You know, Mark may have a point there after all. What about the gold they find up there? The gold that no taxes are paid on. The gold whose value matches the value of the aggregate.

  • Bruce Knoles

    AAME = unpaid volunteer grass roots organization

    Vulcan’s Canyon City Alliance = hired paid mostly out of town astro turf corporate machine