Cities, water agencies raise concerns about National Recreation Area proposal

Water agencies, cities raise concerns about Park Service proposal

More than 100 people attend meeting in San Dimas
SAN DIMAS – Powerful water interests and conservative members of cities in Los Angeles County raised numerous concerns Tuesday about proposed legislation that would grant the National Park Service power to manage portions of the foothills, Puente Hills, and San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers.

While plans to establish a National Recreation Area as a way to funnel more resources for recreation along the rivers and in the Angeles National Forest have been around for 10 years, this marked the first time these groups have publicly listed deep-seated concerns that stopped short of objections.

If the federal government were to block off portions of the river, either as a recreation area or as a scenic river designation, it would curtail water supplies to 1.6 million residents in the eastern part of the county, said Tony Zampiello, the executive officer of the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster, the court-appointed overseer of groundwater pumping and recharge. Zampiello also spoke on behalf of the San Gabriel Valley Water Association.

He said the association has retained an attorney to protect members’ water rights and said new recreation projects along the rivers could require water agencies to make up the loss of recharge water with expensive, imported water from Northern California that would cost $30 million a year.

“We have no objection to theĀ designation as long as it doesn’t impact water flows, water rights and water quality,” Zampiello said during a presentation at San Dimas City Hall. He and others spoke at a three-hour informational meeting hosted by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.

More than 100 people attended the meeting. An overflow crowd stood in the back even after extra chairs were added to accommodate more people.

Since April, the NRA proposal has been losing steam. That’s when the U.S. Department of Interior and National Park Service released its recommendation to Congress for a scaled-down version of a long-proposed National Recreation Area overlaying local wild areas. It would include the San Gabriel Mountain foothills, the river areas south to Pico Rivera and the western Puente Hills but excludes the Angeles National Forest.

The recommendation, contained in the final San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resource Study, advocates an NRA of only about 50,000 acres, one-tenth the size of the 581,500-acre NRA proposed in “Alternative D” that encompassed nearly the entire Angeles National Forest in addition to the rivers and Puente Hills.

The larger plan is supported by a majority of residents who attended meetings from 2009 to 2012, 23 Southern California members of Congress, the county Board of Supervisors and the San Gabriel Mountains Forever group, a nonprofit coalition of residents, environmental groups and faith-based groups.

At the end of Tuesday’s workshop, San Dimas Councilman Denis Bertone, a longtime regional environmental voice, said the water agencies’ concerns need to be addressed.

“The Wilderness Society, the San Gabriel Mountains Forever group have some work to do with the water agencies,” Bertone said.

Glendora Councilwoman Judy Nelson addressed the group, saying she was concerned the NPS would mute the voices of local cities. Nelson said the NPS plan for governance of a recreation area “is not helpful to our ability to maintain local control.”

Nelson, and the city of Glendora, called for a governance body to be made up of “at least 50 percent of local government entities that lie within the designated boundaries of the San Gabriel NRA.”

She also called on Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, to allow local government to help draft the legislation. The proposal “could have more negative unintended consequences to our water rights, our businesses and to our recreation users,” Nelson testified.

Chu’s aide Brian Urias told the audience the congresswoman hopes to have a bill in late fall. “Nothing has been drafted yet. You could say the congresswoman is on a listening tour,” Urias said.

Rosemead Councilwoman Margaret Clark also expressed concerns about water shortages. She and Nelson agreed that Chu should not combine the issues of a NRA and a scenic river designation into one bill, but preferred separate pieces of legislation.

Others in attendance expressed concerns over the federal government taking property and requiring additional regulations for cities and businesses.

Belinda Faustinos, who spoke for the Trust for Public Land, said an NRA is not the same thing as a national park. With no federal land, the Park Service would not have any power over land-use decisions, nor would it add a single new regulatory requirement.

She said the proposal would bring in rangers, planners and other experts from the NPS to augment recreational sites, such as Pio Pico State Historic Park in Whittier, which is closed 90 percent of the time. “If the park service were to staff this, imagine the possibilities,” she said.

One thing all sides agreed on was removing any reference to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. A linkage to the Santa Monica Mountains was soundly rejected by most who attended the meeting and by Chu, whose aide said Chu’s legislation would create an independent NRA.

Bertone, part of the SGVCOG’s new ad hoc committee on the recreation area, said the committee will develop a report with recommendations to the governing board. Its first meeting is slated for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at El Monte Community Center, 3130 Tyler Ave.

Vikings executive says Leiweke, Roski groups have both contacted the team


The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports today that vice president of public affairs Lester Bagley said both AEG as well as Ed Roski’s group have both contacted the team about potentially moving to California.

Roski has plans approved for a football stadium in Industry, while AEG’s Tim Leiweke has recently bolted onto the scene, stealing the headlines with a downtown stadium proposal.

According to Bagley’s quote in the article, it appears Roski contacted the team in the past, but Leiweke was the most recent to reach out to the team.

The Vikings have long since been on the radar as one of the potential teams available to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles. The Vikings want a new stadium and if that doesn’t come to pass, they may be looking for new digs elsewhere.

The Vikings are down to the last year on their lease and decisions must be made soon.

Other teams that have been rumored as candidates for Los Angeles are the Buffalo Bills, the San Diego Chargers, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the St. Louis Rams, and the Oakland Raiders.

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Jaguars (potential target of Ed Roski) are still working to build a fan base

Came across this blog on the Jacksonville Jaguars website that talks about how the team has had to work to sell tickets for this week’s Monday Night Football game against the Tennessee Titans.

For most teams, MNF would be enough to get an easy sell out, but not in Jacksonville where the team had to blackout many games last year after not selling enough tickets for home games.

The Jaguars have been a team discussed as a potential suitor to move to Los Angeles if Ed Roski and his Industry stadium team are able to lure someone out west.

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Leiweke asks for $1 billion from taxpayers to pay for downtown stadium

After AEG’s Tim Leiweke spoke to L.A. business folk Tuesday about using the L.A. Convention Center to help build an NFL stadium, some people aren’t reacting to it as he might hope.

The big hiccup? Ed Roski’s Industry stadium is privately financed while Leiweke is asking for, oh, something like $1 billion from taxpayers.

L.A. Observed has a video up. And you can put Ron Kaye on the side of Roski’s plan vs. Leiweke’s downtown idea.

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NFL stadium battle moves online with new website opposed to downtown concept


Two months ago, local billionaire Ed Roski Jr.’s grand plans of returning the NFL to the Los Angeles region encountered an interesting twist. A former business partner, Tim Leiweke, and Casey Wasserman announced they were exploring their own idea of building a $1 billion NFL stadium next to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.

As some predicted, Roski (pictured) wasn’t the only one gunning for an NFL team in L.A. And some of that jockeying for position has now moved online.

A new website and Twitter account in opposition of the downtown stadium concept were recently started. The site,, is a collection of news stories and items relating to the Leiweke-Wasserman plan. It covers everything from questions about L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s tickets from Staples Center owners to the mayor’s hopes of luring Comic-Con to the L.A. Convention center (which could be torn down as part of the downtown stadium concept). Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, which owns and operates the Staples Center, is a political ally of Villaraigosa.

It’s unclear who runs the website or Twitter account. The website was created on May 30, according to a website registry. And the tweeting didn’t start until June 1. Here’s who is behind it, according to a vague description on their website:

We are a group of concerned citizens of the Los Angeles area bringing you current news information regarding the possible development of a 80,000 seat stadium at the Staples Center.

A Twitter message to the group wasn’t immediately returned. And a call to a Roski representative wasn’t either.

Roski, CEO and Chairman of Majestic Realty Co., has said he won’t build his shovel-ready 600-acre, 75,000-seat stadium in Industry until he lands a team.

Note: For more coverage on the prospect of the NFL in L.A., check here.

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Schwarzenegger in town


In case you missed it, the gubernator himself was in Industry Thursday morning for a ceremonial signing of Assembly Bill 3X81 — which essentially paves the way for the construction of an NFL stadium in Industry.

The bill exempts the stadium/complex project from the state’s environmental laws, and throws out a pending lawsuit by a citizens group in Walnut challenging the project’s environmental impact report.

You know something’s gotta be real big — or be supported by some really big people — for the Ah-nold himself to make a trip out for a staged ceremony like this one.

Huff defends Senate procedural vote

I spoke with state Sen. Bob Huff Wednesday, who was less than pleased over allegations he had a conflict of interest when casting a vote in the Senate last week.

The vote in questions was a procedural one to help move an environmental bill to the Senate floor. Problem is, that environmental bill — which passed — will exempt a proposed NFL stadium in Industry from state environmental laws.

Members of the Citizens for Community Preservation Inc., which has a lawsuit filed against the stadium, said the vote was unethical because of Huff and his wife’s involvement with Industry and the stadium’s developer, Majestic Realty.

Huff called the allegations “about as bogus as the lawsuit,” and said he consulted with legal counsel, who told him there was, in fact, no conflict.

Huff said he originally was not going to participate in the vote at all. But then he was asked to step in, and even the Senate President — along with others — told him there was no legal conflict.

He didn’t vote when the bill finally hit the Senate floor.

Ah-nold’s back in town


The Governator himself is making a special trip to the San Gabriel Valley Thursday to ceremoniously sign a bill that would essentially pave the way for Ed Roski Jr.’s $800 million stadium project.

The ceremony will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the site that will hold the 600-acre stadium, near the interchange of the 57 and 60 freeways.

In addition to Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’m sure a whole host of other local dignitaries will be there.

This comes a week after the Senate approved a bill that exempts the stadium project from state environmental laws.

This also means that the last standing lawsuit against the stadium — filed by eight Walnut residents — is essentially no more.

Industry in Venice

I walked into a bookshop in Venice Beach a week ago and what was the first thing I saw?


A very familiar looking book cover about a strange but financially lucrative town right here in the San Gabriel Valley. I guess we’re not the only ones who would be interested in reading about a city that’s on its way to building an NFL stadium.

On another note, the Los Angeles Times wrote a piece today essentially putting all the puzzle pieces together about Industry, Dave Perez and the monopoly that runs the city.