There’s a poet lurking in San Dimas City Hall

I read reports prepared by city staff at least several times a week. They are by and large insipid, monotonous affairs – full of technical jargon and written with the sterility of an operating room.

San Dimas’ mid-year budget report that I’m busy sifting through is an entirely different animal. Sure, it’s full of sales tax figures and drones a bit about revenues and expenditures, but tucked into little corners of the document are tiny flourishes of poetic language.

My favorite example opens the section of the report dealing with the loss of the city’s redevelopment agency. I’ve included it below for your reading pleasure.

“Like a multi-trunk tree, the city’s General Fund and Redevelopment Agency have grown together over the years to produce a broad and successful economic canopy that has strengthened the City of San Dimas.”

Corny? Hell yes, but cheesy or not, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air from the gobbledegook I usually have to read.

I don’t know who wrote this report, but I’ll find out when I talk to city staff later today.

Five chicken indoors, five chickens outdoors; Azusa doesn’t care

I’m writing a story for the weekend about people choosing to raise chickens in their backyards, which seems to be the result of a perfect storm of recession-induced stinginess and a frenzy for all things organic. Since every city seems to have different poultry policies, this has meant a lot of phone calls on my part today.

I was just on the phone with Conal McNamara, Assistant Community Development Director for Azusa, and I found out something very interesting: Azusa residents can keep up to five adult chickens inside their homes if they so choose. You read that correctly – inside.

I dunno who would choose to do such a revolting thing, but it actually sounds like less hassle than keeping the chickens outdoors, in which case Azusa has lots of rules about property lines, setbacks and enclosures.

Azusa, Irwindale city manager spill few secrets over trash fight

As you might already know, Azusa and Irwindale have been locked in an epic battle over trash-recycling facilities. Titans of trash Waste Management and Athens Services each want a material-recycling facility – Athens in Irwindale and Waste Management in Azusa. As is apt to happen whenever you add garbage to the mix, things have gotten messy.

Irwindale has been holding up Azusa’s project with legal maneuvers. Azusa responded by making tons of public records requests from Irwindale.

Things have been pretty quiet though lately. The last big article we had about the situation was written in August by reporter-turned-online editor Daniel Tedford.

Yesterday, I was getting a little nervous that I might miss some important development if I’m not paying attention, so I called both city halls for an update.

John Davidson, Irwindale city manager, wasn’t giving out any specifics, but he seemed to suggest that the cities aren’t getting any closer to cooperating. His suggestion to me was to keep an eye on Irwindale’s close session agendas.

James Makshanoff, Azusa city manager, didn’t have much to report, either. He also said Azusa and Duarte aren’t really getting anywhere in their dispute over the Vulcan rock mining proposal.

Neither James nor John were in charge of their respective cities when all this mess started. John was running South Pasadena. James was Azusa’s assistant city manager. I wonder how they feel about being thrust into this battle. It might make an interesting topic for a future article.

P.S. James, who is normally a pretty stoic character, actually seemed really excited that Azusa is going to swear in Capt. Sam Gonzalez as its new police chief on Tuesday.

“We’re ready to rock and roll!” he said. Unbridled enthusiasm? Almost …

Awww … San Dimas soldier skypes with his dog before heading to Afghanistan

This totally has nothing to do with city politics or officials in any way, but it was just so adorable, I couldn’t not post it here.

Azusa grandmother Alma Taylor called me today to ask if I’d be interested in seeing a video of her grandson, Justin McKettrick skyping with his dog. Was I interested? Definitely.

You see, McKettrick of San Dimas is getting deployed to Afghanistan soon. I think he’s in Virginia right now. Grandma said he wanted to see his faithful friend one last time before he left. I won’t describe it. I think the video speaks for itself.

Controversial San Dimas businessman closes downtown liquor store

San Dimas residents are reporting that local businessman and perennial city council candidate Sid Maksoudian has shut down his high-end liquor store.

Assistant City Manager Ken Duran confirmed what many people were telling me: Chalet Gourmet, 120 W Bonita Ave., is closed for business.

After calling Sid a few times, I finally got him to pick up the phone on Tuesday. With some hostility he asked why his business is any of my business.

I persisted, but my efforts were rewarded only by an obscenity-laced response that I’ll assume means “no comment.”

Then he hung up.

Sid has during the years tangled with councilmembers, other downtown business owners, the Chamber of Commerce and organizers of the San Dimas Rodeo. As far as anyone knows, Sid still lives in San Dimas, so while he might not be a presence downtown anymore, it’s probably too soon to assume this is the last of him.

Azusans allied against parking proposal


A group of Azusa residents who oppose the city’s plans for a four-story Gold Line parking structure behind City Hall are planning a protest rally on Saturday.

The original plans for the parking structure placed it on the north side of the railroad tracks, across Azusa Avenue from Target. The city, hoping to use the Gold Line site for a retail establishment, has proposed building it on the site of Veterans Freedom Park

The Save Azusa Civic Center Park Committee (SACCPC), naturally opposes the idea.

To show just how ugly the parking structure will be, the group has put together a simulation of what they think it will look like. They photoshopped a picture of an Irwindale parking structure over the park – with remarkably realistic looking results.

For those interested in the rally, it will start at Azusa Avenue and Fifth Street on Saturday at 11 a.m. The marchers will head from there to the park for the rally at noon. Mayor Joe Rocha and Azusa Unified School Board Member Yolanda R. Pena may even be there.

Glendora appears on top-ten list of places with poisonous water; city officials not pleased

Note to county officials: If you accuse Glendora of having poisonous metals in its water, expect to receive a scathing letter in return.

Late last month, Glendora appeared on a top-ten list of places in L.A. County with high levels of arsenic in their water. Arsenic is toxic metal used in some pesticides, as a wood preservative and for making transistors.

A county well on Dalton Canyon Road came in sixth place out of the worst offenders. It had nearly twice the recommended level of arsenic for healthy drinking water. Still, its level was only one-fourth of what people in Saugus have to drink.

The list was part of a survey of 195 water wells conducted by the county at the behest of the board of supervisors.

Glendora Patch picked up the story.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilwoman Judy Nelson, apparently concerned about having poisonous water in The Pride of the Foothills, asked City Manager Chris Jeffers what the deal is.

“The way that that has been portrayed is greatly misleading,” said Jeffers.

He assured the council that the city’s water is safe — the result of state regulations requiring the city to perform “22,000 tests per year,” using “sub-atomic level analysis.”

“This water is poked, pricked and otherwise analyzed beyond death,” Jeffers said.

Plus, he said, that county well doesn’t even serve Glendora residents.

Jeffers said the county will soon be hearing back from the city about this matter.

“The water division is writing sort of a letter back to the agriculture people and the board (of supervisors) to express our disappointment and frustration with the way that was a carried out,” Jeffers said.

Playing on a theme at Tuesday’s meeting of alluding to vulgarities, Councilwoman Karen Davis said she’ll “edit that colorful language in the letter for you.”

County officials, you’re officially on notice. You heard it here.

SGV foothill cities round up

Moving from west to east, just because it makes sense to me:

AZUSA – At its meeting Monday, the city council approved the three following items:

A 5-percent increase in salary for a civilian administrator in the police department. City Manager Fran Delach said the pay increase is in response to new duties. That increase pencils out to an additional $405 a month.

Taking responsibility for 330 feet of Azusa Avenue north of Arrow Highway and adjacent to Corky’s Corner. That small section of road was still being managed by Caltrans, despite the fact that Corky’s Corner was annexed by the city in 2008.

Putting finishing touches on a new retirement plan for the city’s police officers. Under the new plan, new hires will be able to retire at age 55 with 3 percent of their pay for each year of work. Current officers can still retire at 50 with the same benefit. Police and city officials have been working on the deal for at least a year.

Other news: Delach said he’s offered the police chief job to Azusa police Capt. Sam Gonzalez. Current Chief Robert Garcia officially retired in June, but has been working for the city on a part-time, interim basis. Nothing has been finalized yet.

GLENDORA – The city council will on Thursday vote on whether to ratify a state of emergency declared last week by City Manager Chris Jeffers. Jeffers estimated that the city has spent about $250,000 to $300,000 on cleanup and overtime costs from last week’s windstorm. By declaring an emergency, the city makes itself eligible to reimbursed by the state or feds for some of those costs.

The Business Improvement District will consider giving $1,000 raised at the Village Wine Walk to the Glendora War Memorial at its meeting Thursday morning.

SAN DIMAS – The Planning, Parks and Recreation and Equestrian commissions will hold a special joint meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. to take a look at a survey of the city’s foothill trails. Parks and Rec. Director Theresa Bruns said the city is thinking about expanding its trail network. Three committees in one meeting? San Dimans sure love those trails.

In other news that probably almost no one will care about, the San Dimas Development Plan Review Board has cancelled its Thursday meeting. The next meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 22.

I’m still awaiting phone calls from Irwindale and La Verne. Irwindale may have declared its own state of emergency this week. La Verne might be holding a special election in the spring for some kind of changes to taxes on telecommunication services.

UPDATE: Irwindale City Manager John Davidson says the city council ratified a state of emergency declaration at its meeting Monday. He says an estimate of the damage was not yet been compiled.