Groundbreaking scheduled for freeway project

I wrote a story about a week ago about construction starting on a 2.2-mile stretch of the 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park, where Caltrans is building a carpool lane on either side of the highway.

This construction — between the 605 interchange and Puente Avenue — is actually part of a larger, three-phase project aimed at creating carpool lanes on each side of the interstate from Los Angeles to the San Bernardino County line.

Baldwin Park officials were pretty excited about the start of construction, because they say that portion of the freeway is heavily traveled and often bottlenecks.

But it seems they’re not the only ones who have been looking forward to the expansion. Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, Assemblyman Mike Eng, and several other dignitaries from Baldwin Park, the CHP and MTA will be meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday — yup, Election Day — for a groundbreaking ceremony.

Don’t fret, it won’t be on the freeway. It’ll be near it, in the parking lot area of Guadalajara Grill Restaurant, 14610 Garvey Ave. in Baldwin Park.

Pay to play in La Puente

An article I wrote that ran in today’s paper:

LA PUENTE — Officials are considering cutting a break for local sports leagues who pay to use the city’s fields.

The City Council voted 3-0 Thursday to have staff members look into restructuring the city’s parks fee schedule, so leagues with less than 60 percent of members who live in La Puente can pay cheaper rates.

Mayor Louie Lujan and Councilwoman Nadia Mendoza did not attend the meeting.

Several years ago, the city approved a two-tiered fee schedule for sports organizations who use the parks. Leagues with at least 60 percent of La Puente residents as members pay a resident rate. Leagues that don’t meet that threshold pay a more expensive non-resident rate.

At Thursday’s special meeting, officials cited tough economic times in the proposal to bump that threshold to 51 percent.

The issue still needs to come back before the council for a final approval.

The council’s decision was prompted by concerns from the La Puente Junior All-American Football league. Organization officials said their usage rates recently jumped from $3,100 to $9,400 per season because they failed to meet the 60 percent standard.

This was a pretty heated issue at the special City Council meeting that was called last week. I’m told a lot of residents and supporters of the football league showed up, many of whom spoke on the league’s behalf.

It seems the city originally was just considering scaling back the fees for that one particular league, based on their concerns. But now it sounds like they’re considering a cutback across the board for all sports organizations.

We’ll see if it gets final approval.

To meet or not to meet

West Covina’s gone and done it again.

For the second year in a row, the city has scheduled a council meeting on the night of an election — last year it was the presidential election, this year, it’s the local municipal election.

There’s only one item on the agenda for Tuesday night, an update on a senior housing project.

Mayor Roger Hernandez
told reporter Amanda Baumfeld he’s been asking to discuss this before the council for months — but he didn’t want to do it on election night.

Hernandez said even though he is opposed to meetings on election night, he can’t cancel the meeting without a majority of the council agreeing to it.

Councilman Mike Touhey said Hernandez can cancel the meeting, and accused him of setting a double standard.

La Puente council candidate fights for free healthcare


Based on one of her campaign mailers, it feels like La Puente City Council candidate Renee Chavez is running for higher office.

Chavez recently sent out a flier promising she would fight for “free healthcare.”

Last time I checked, the healthcare debate was between Congress and the White House.

I’m not sure what Chavez could do locally to provide free healthcare to residents in La Puente, but if she’s elected, maybe she’ll tell us.

Measure D support group admits campaign finance errors

Dana Sykes left me a message earlier this week informing their had been “numerous errors” on the campaign finance reports filed for the Concerned Citizens for a better West Covina.

Sykes is the treasurer for the group, which is supporting Measure D — a controversial proposal to divide the city into five council districts

But Sykes is also the wife of Fred Sykes, who is running for City Council in the Nov. 3 election.

As a result, Dana Sykes said she hasn’t been involved in the record-keeping for the Concerned Citizens group, and it recently came to her attention that there were errors on the reports filed Oct. 22. She blamed the mistakes on an assistant who didn’t know the group had to file its expenditures —- the heart of campaign finance reporting.

This news comes days after West Covina resident Lloyd Johnson sent a letter to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office questioning the legality of three campaign mailers the group sent to residents supporting Measure D.

In Johnson’s letter, he accused the Concerned Citizens for sending out the flyers but not reporting the postage and printing costs of the three mailer.

We haven’t hadn’t a chance to look for ourselves, but Sykes said she has filed amended forms with the West Covina City Clerk.

This is why they’re hot


Apparently, Huy Fong Foods Inc. – which produces and distributes the ever popular Sriracha sauce – is getting a little too hot for Rosemead.

The company is in negotiations with Irwindale to move its entire operation to a 22.9-acre site on Azusa Canyon Road. Talks have been ongoing for nearly nine months, and Irwindale City Manager Robert Griego said he hopes to put a cap on it by December.

The owner of Huy Fong declined to comment on the plans Wednesday. But officials in Rosemead and Irwindale said the company is simply getting too big for its own facilities.

“It looks like we’re close to finalizing the actual transaction,” Griego said. “It’s really exciting because their plans are to actually double in size over a period of time.”

Huy Fong is currenlty housed at a 68,000-square-foot plant in Rosemead. But the company has grown since first opening shop in 1986.

“When you have places like Irwindale, which may be to offer a cheaper place to do business … I don’t blame a business for wanting to jump on that,” said Councilman Steven Ly.

Upon learning of the negotiations, Rosemead officials at City Hall Wednesday morning were trying to schedule a meeting with the company’s owner — an 11th-hour bid to persuade Huy Fong to stay put.

“We just want to speak with them to find out if there’s anything we can do to entice them,” Rosemead City Manager Jeff Allred said. “But we also understand they are very much a booming business and they have expansion needs.”

If they move to the Irwindale, Huy Fong plans to increase its operating facilities by nearly 10 times — constructing a 626,186-square-foot building with offices, a warehouse and a manufacturing plant, said Ray Hamada, Irwindale’s director of planning and community development.

It would probably take a year and half to two years to complete the move, Griego said.

Officials have not named a price on the land, at 4702 Azusa Canyon Road, just yet, but the property is appraised at about $20 million, Hamada said.

Montebello hills promises new community; better future?

Here is a link to latest video of the Montebello Hills courtesy of Cookhill Properties:

‘The Montebello Hills Specific Plan – A new community. A better future.’

Cook Hill Properties LLC submitted the Montebello Hills Specific Plan on December 2007 to build 1,200 residential homes, a series of trails and a public park on a portion of 480 acres of open space.

Cook Hill is a development consultant for Plains Exploration & Production Co., which owns the property.

Tuttle re-enters Baldwin Park race for mayor


Baldwin Park businessman Greg Tuttle is apparently back in the running for Baldwin Park mayor.

Tuttle’s candidate filing was initially rejected a few months back by the City Clerk because he was not a registered voter in Baldwin Park when he pulled his candidate forms on July 22.

But he’s since qualified as a write-in candidate with the county Registrar-Recorder.

So you won’t see him on ballot information mailed to voters, but he will be eligible to run as a write-in candidate come Nov. 3

A lot of questions have been brought up about whether Tuttle really lives in Baldwin Park.

The owner of Tuttle’s Parts Exchange on Ramona Boulevard used to live in Pomona and said he’s now renting a room in a house across the street from Mayor Manuel Lozano’s home.

Tuttle’s not ready to show anyone his humble abode just yet, but he says if he wins the race for mayor, he’ll buy a whole house just for himself in Baldwin Park.

We’ll see if he gets that far.