Let there be water


Azusa is dedicating a new water facility today — but it’s not just any water facility, it’s the most expensive capital project in Azusa Light and Water’s history, reporter Daniel Tedford reports.

The $36 million Canyon Water Filtration Plant, at 1870 Ranch Road, replaces outdated technology and can filter through 12 million gallons of water a day. That old plant could only process 7.5 million gallons a day.

Election round-ups

Whoa. There are a few upsets in this round of elections.

  • In Rosemead, incumbents John Tran and John Nunez were ousted. Returning to office is Maggie Clark, and now she will be joined by Steven Ly and Sandra Armenta, according to this article.
  • In Covina, Kevin Stapleton and John King are returning to the council, and filling the open seat will be former Councilman Bob Low. City Clerk Rosie Fabian received the second lowest number of votes, according tot the city’s Web site.
  • In Monterey Park, David Lau returns to office, but Sharon Martinez was ousted. Martinez’s seat will now be filled by Betty Tom Chu.Here’s the unofficial results.
  • In Azusa, it’s much of the same. Voters returned the city’s incumbents to to two council seats Tuesday night. Incumbents Keith Hanks and Robert Gonzales held the lead with only provisional ballots left to count Tuesday night. Gonzales had 1,338 votes, while Hanks had 1,141.

Gonzales on the Vulcan issue

Got this e-mail from Azusa Councilman Robert Gonzales this morning in response to a letter that ran in the newspaper the other day. The letter attacked both Gonzales and Councilman Keith Hanks for not stating their position on the new Vulcan Mining Proposal (per request of the city attorney).

Here is the letter:

In response to the letter issued on February 25th regarding Vulcan: Azusa’s future is extremely important to me. Under advice of our city attorney, I cannot state a position on Vulcan until all pertinent information & community input is brought before council. Candidates running for office can freely state their personal opinion, but as a city official it’s my duty to practice due diligence on any issue that comes before the city council. Our community’s health and safety are my highest priority. It is on this foundation, doing what is best for the residents, that I will base my vote and actions on matters that come before the city council. Thank You.. Azusa Councilman, Robert Gonzales

I would imagine that same sentiment doubles for Hanks, as well.

Photo update for Naccachian

Azusa City Council candidate Paul Naccachian’s photo in Friday’s newspaper was a file photo we used of him from years back. At his request, Naccachian prefers if in the future we used a more updated photo. In compliance with that, here is Naccachian today.


Azusa City Council election story: the encore

Being that the Azusa City Council election story was a bit short, I wanted to give all you fans out there an encore of sorts – that is, if encores were longer than the original performance.

Here are some excerpts of what the candidates have said about the various issues:

Paul Naccachian

On the new mining proposal from Vulcan Materials:

“Vulcan (Materials) has to be a better neighbor. They need to come forward with a plan that makes sense to the community. I don’t think what they are proposing is what the community would like to so.”

“If the proposal includes moving the mining operation to the Duarte side, I am not in favor of that.”

On eminent domain:

“I have said this is many communications with constituents. Eminent domain is an issue of last resort. I want to make sure that when we are doing that, we really have a development in place – not something that is a potential development.”

On business:

“We need to be business friendly. I can’t stress that enough. I know because I have done it. We need to become more receptive to new ideas. I think we haven’t done a good job of that. We have to be open minded for different types of business. Show businesses that this is a potentially winning situation to invest dollars in Azusa.”

“The question becomes an issue of retention. We need to have outreach and be more open minded to be able to serve the needs once (businesses) come in. We need to make sure they are having their needs met, such as parking.

On Target:

“Based on my information, Target is an iffy situation. Talking to community members in the city, some are dissatisfied, some are wanting Target to come. It is a good business and a good anchor and something we need for tax revenues. We need to look into the concerns of how much traffic it is going to create. I might question the location at which (the city) is going to build that structure in the downtown.”

General statement:

My campaign is all about outreach to make sure every factor of the community is being well taken care of. I don’t think that has been the case for quite some time. I am very familiar with the issues. The market of getting a grocery store in Azusa is top priority. I believe in Azusa and I am hopeful that a lot of things change. Hopeful that all the changes and progression we need can be competitive int he future.”

Robert Gonzales

On the new mining proposal from Vulcan Materials:

Gonzales, as well as other incumbent Keith Hanks, have declined to take an official position on the proposal per request from the city attorney. But Gonzales had some thoughts on the issue.

“I am against proposed mining if there is not an environmental benefit to our city. I have to hear everything that is going to be put on the table.”

On eminent domain:

“Eminent domain is a tool. Our council has not used it on anything residential. We use it when it is blighted, crime infested, and there is need for redevelopment. 95% of the time we don’t even need to get to that. We are very aware of where we are with eminent domain. We aren’t the big bad city taking land. There is a benefit for the residents as a whole.”

On Target:

“With them coming in, they have been able to attract bigger, national brand names to the table.”

On Business:

Answering a question about what businesses should the city bring in.

“It ranges from a shoe store, to a bicycle store, to a stationary store. We listen to the residents and continue to do that. There is no preference to take.

On development:

“Of course, we always wonder if we put too much on our plate. Our philosophy is to have follow through and see what we have on the table before we have anything new. Construction costs are down. Now is the time to do those types of things. We should do things now. Price of concrete is down. Now is the time to build. When the economy resets, we will be built for the market.”

General Statement:

“Fortunately, we have handled a lot of quality of life issues. We have done a very good job with street sweeping, and public safety is a key element. I am always looking to find ways to better protect. I don’t feel there are any significant issues rather than completing the projects we are working on now. Quality of life issues are always key to us. We have the best parks in the valley, but always want to improve on those.”

Edward Alvarez:

On the new mining proposal from Vulcan Materials:

“I think most of the people are against expansion of course. It raises a lot of concerns. A lot of residents definitely don’t want them to expand. As far as the expansion goes, I have always been against it.”

On Eminent Domain:

“The thing with eminent domain, I have never been a big fan. You can only use as a measure of last resort. But that is an important corner because it is the entrance to our city. But it has to be used as a measure of last resort. I feel like they need to continue with negotiations first.”

On Business:

“Right now, the recession, of course, is hitting a lot of businesses. We have to work on retaining the businesses we have. Meet with business owners to make sure there needs are being met.”

“I think we need to get a move on with improving the downtown. With Target coming, we need to use it as a tool to attract new businesses. Other businesses are going to look at that and that is what they want.”

On development:

“We do need to continue with development. I know we are in a recession, but development doesn’t have to come to a standstill. There are a lot of businesses still willing to expand right now.”

Keith Hanks

On the new mining proposal from Vulcan Materials:

Hanks was also instructed not to take an official position on the proposal. But Hanks is looking forward to lengthy and healthy debate and discussion on the subject. Some of his major areas of concern are how the mining may affect dust movement and air quality as well as the legal ramifications of either accepting the proposal or denying it.

On Eminent Domain:

“It really is tough to go to somebody and say ‘I am going to take that property.’ It requires us to justly compensate. We are not going to come in … and squash you. Often we take these things to court for (the businesses) protection. Let a jury decide what they are owed.”

“It is a tool. A legitimate tool.”

On Business:

“One of the things everyone says is they want to attract business. But how are you going to make it happen? And it is tough. We have talked to every super market around. The best place to go is the International Council of Shopping Centers.”

Hanks attended the group’s conference and was in awe at its size. With Target, he believes Azusa can attract business and that much desired grocery store the city wants.

On Electrical Rates (a passion for Hanks)

Hanks foresees a 26% increase in electricity prices for consumers when the city switches over to meet new renewable energy standards. Gas and wind are much more costly than coal, Hanks said. But Hanks is looking at a way to use a waste product of coal in a new form of cement. If successful, Hanks believes the city can get credits on their energy use and keep prices down.

General Statement:

“I just want to handle things. There are more things than any one person can handle. I just want to focus on Target, the Goldline [Hanks sits on the Goldline committee] and keeping our electrical rates low.”

Nick Rosales

On Vulcan:

“I would hold Vulcan to that original contract. Not a new modified agreement. As far as the new, no, I wouldn’t want it. I would vote no on Vulcan.”

On eminent domain:

“I see a much more proactive way of dealing with eminent domain. We have a situation there, where a furniture company is there for almost 40 years. They voted overwhelming to evict them. Eminent domain should not be used to destroy people’s life long dream and hope and inspiration. That deal was done inappropriately. It was strong armed. They don’t have to use hard ended tactics to get the end result. There has to be a better way of negotiating with owners.”

On business:

“(The city) has been less than business friendly. We have existing businesses that need assistance. Il Forno is a new restaurant for the past 3 years and the city attracted them, gave them money. That’s great, that is nice. Came back last year for more money to get liquor license or they threatened to close. City gave (them more money). But there are other businesses that don’t ask for hand outs, work hard and don’t get assistance and they may have a more attractive business and menu.”

“We need to look at existing businesses that have been here long term and assist them.”

Rosales also said the city tends to play favorites.

“America has a history of that”

On Target:

It is going to make that particular part of town more heavily trafficked. It is going to be the main attraction.”

General Statement:

“This is a working class community and we have got to reflect that. We need variety. We need more service businesses, like tax services, mortgage service businesses, we need a florist, health food services. A combination of chains, and mom and pop stores.”

Azusa special meeting

Budgets, budgets and more budgets.

I know we all feel a bit inundated with budgets with the state just now getting their act together and voting on the state budget. (As a side note: if you had a job, and you were say, late on a big part of your job… really late …. in these touch economic times how long do you think it would be before your employer decided to make a round of cuts including you?)

Anyway, despite the fact that most don’t even want to hear the word budget again, Azusa has called a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday to do the mid-year budget review. The meeting is at the Azusa Light and Water Conference Room, 729 North Azusa Avenue, Azusa.

More than just the city council race in Azusa

As we will have a short story coming out tomorrow on the city council election in Azusa, it is important to note that there is more than just the city council to vote for on March 3.

There are also races for city treasurer and city clerk up for grabs.

Both incumbents are facing challengers in each race.

City Clerk:
Vera Mendoza, incumbent
Ar Morales, military veteran

City Treasurer:
Arthur Vasquez, Jr., accountant
Marcene Hamilton, certified public accountant and incumbent

Rumors of Azusa’s Target demise have been greatly exaggerated, councilman says

Just got done talking to Councilman Keith Hanks and got the 411 on the new Azusa Target.

Word on the street was the development was suddenly in doubt, possibly on its way to being scratched. Most of the sources on this aren’t exactly trustworthy, but the fear exists and has been perpetrated nonetheless.

Hanks informed me, as City Manager Fran Delach did the same at last night’s council meeting, that the project’s start date has been delayed. But at the same time, the completion date and opening date remains the same, Hanks said.

“We hoped to close escrow the first of the year, but then the economy melted down,” Hanks said.

It was probably Target just taking necessary precautions and waiting a bit longer on the economy before pushing the project forward, Hanks said. Even with that, he had no fears of the project coming to fruition.

Azusa looks to support Highway 39 construction

Looking over Azusa’s city council meeting agenda, and they plan on voting to support the Highway 39 Caltrans construction project I wrote about here.

The process for a project is still in its early stages. Caltrans is hopeful they can get the project done by 2013.

Also, the city is voting to approve the purchases of two more properties in a neighborhood in its efforts to create a low-income housing project.

I previously wrote about that project here. Besides the purchase of two more properties, it appears they are still negotiating for at least one more that is listed on the agenda.

Residents don’t seem pleased about the housing project, but do admit the neighborhood could use some fixing up.