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.

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.

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.

New spokesperson for Vulcan Materials

For those of you familiar with the ongoing issue of the Azusa Rock Quarry, the plan from Vulcan Materials Co., and the battle between Azusa and Duarte, you are familiar with Vulcan spokesman Todd Priest, who is with the public relations firm Curt Pringle and Associates.

Well … I learned today that while Priest and his crew will remain as part of the team working for Vulcan, a new spokeswoman has taken over as the voice of the company from here on out.

Peg Casey, an employee with Vulcan, will be the one answering questions through the litigation process.

I spoke with Casey today following up on Duarte’s decision to pursue litigation. She has worked with Vulcan for 16 years and has been involved with the Azusa Rock Quarry project since 2003. Here what she had to say and more about the impending lawsuit in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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Isn’t this where we always thought it would go? Duarte will take Azusa to court

41996-Azusa Rock.jpg

Just when you thought it was over there is breaking news the Duarte City Council has unanimously decided to pursue litigation against Vulcan and Azusa over the recently approved Azusa Rock Quarry mining project.

OK, you didn’t really think it was over did you?

This is really only breaking news because it happened last night at a closed session council meeting. In truth, this probably surprises no one. Not me, not Duarte (the vote was unanimous), not Azusa, and not Vulcan.

Azusa has said all along they anticipated litigation, Vulcan and Azusa agreed in the development agreement that Vulcan would pay to fight any legal challenge, and Duarte has that $700,000 Fight Against Vulcan Expansion fund.

Plus, when Duarte, Vulcan and Azusa failed to reach a settlement deal earlier this year, if the project was approved what other outcome was there?

Now we will get to see what Duarte’s legal arguments will be. My guess is they will argue about the flaws in the environmental impact report, their believed contradictions in the development agreement, and the lack of a full evaluation and consideration of alternative project options including mining both sides of the canyon without cutting down any ridge lines.

Add in the potential for two Brown Act violations by Azusa, including the fact the original vote to reconsider the project was originally not on the council agenda.

Azusa (via Vulcan’s lawyers) will have to defend those allegations and its review of the project in court.

How does this affect mining for now? Duarte can seek an injunction that would prevent operations until the legal challenges end. The court would have to approve any injunction.

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UPDATED: No Bell type salaries in local San Gabriel Valley cities

The reporting staff here at the Tribune came together like the A Team … no wait … The Justice League (way more fitting) to check in on local cities to see what the City Managers and City Councils are making in the wake of news reports about the city of Bell’s City Manager making something like $800,000.

Here is the rundown. (Note: most of us had this information on hand as we regularly check on these things. In cases we didn’t, the city handed over the information readily)

Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers makes $201,816 annually.

La Verne’s (soon to be retired) City Manager Martin Lomeli makes $194,580 annually. (Side note: La Verne City Council just passed an ordinance for City Manager pay with $160,600 as the base pay with $195,000 at the peak)

San Dimas City Manager Blaine Michaelis makes $196,452 a year.

Azusa City Manager Fran Delach is paid $212,483 annually. (He got a 5 percent raise at the beginning of this year)

Rosemead City Manager Jeffrey Allred gets $175,000 a year.

El Monte City Manager Rene Bobadilla makes $170,000 a year.

South El Monte City Manager Tony Ybarra takes in $120,000 a year.

Covina’s Daryl Parrish’s annual salary is $199,500.

West Covina’s Andrew Pasmant gets $223,656 a year. (UPDATE: Councilman Mike Touhey called to tell me that Pasmant took the equivalent of a 5-percent pay cut on his deferred comp. That saves the city about $11,000, Touhey said.)

Walnut’s Rob Wishner is paid $196,650 a year.

La Puente’s Josi Kenline gets $160,000 a year.

Industry City Manager Kevin Radecki takes in $158,133 a year.

Diamond Bar’s James DeStefano’s salary is about $194,000 a year.

Baldwin Park’s Chief Executive Officer made $152,000 a year in 2006, up to $800 a month in lodging, $1,200 a month in health and dental – reimbursed in cash if not all spent – and $300 a month in vehicle expenses or a city car.

As for City Council stipends, San Dimas councilmen make $620 a month while Mayor Curt Morris earns $830 a month.

In La Verne, the city council brings in $519 a month and is entitled to the same benefits as executive management employees. Council woman Robin Carder and Mayor Don Kendrick waived those benefits. In addition, the redevelopment agency pays $30 per meeting. City Clerk Evelyn Clark said they meet about four time per year.

Glendora council members bring in $700 a month.

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Azusa Target now accepting applications


The economy is saved! The new Target being constructed in Azusa is now accepting applications for jobs.

OK, so maybe the economy still has a long way to go, but for those in need of work you can now apply for future jobs at the Target in Azusa. The city posted a link to the stores job site this weekend and you can apply for jobs with the company via its website.

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Weekend roundup and tonight’s events

I hope everyone enjoyed their heat-wave filled weekends.

In case you were out enjoying your life, here is your weekend roundup so you can get the news and be an informed member of society and all that.

There is this whopper of a story where Glendora teen bartered his way to a Porsche after starting with a cell phone. (I know, I’m awestruck too. And jealous. Mostly jealous.)

When it comes to taking money from groups pushing for new laws – and introducing their so-called sponsored bills – Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, stands out.

Three officers were severely injured when they were attacked with beer bottles while trying to break up a party Saturday, officials said.

As for the future, the Montebello City Council will meet at 4:30 p.m. today to discuss releasing Interim City Administrator Randy Narramore from his contract and appointing an interim to take his place.

And Azusa meets tonight with a second reading of the Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry plan on tap.

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