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.

Is Joe Rocha untouchable?

There is nothing new to report regarding applications for the Azusa City Council. The list of potential candidates remains the same with Jorge Rosales, Peggy Martinez, Paul Naccachian, Madelyn Payne and incumbents Urial Macias and Angel Carrillo.

The news, for now, may be the lack of a competitor for Mayor Joe Rocha. Rocha ran unopposed two years ago and appears to be close to doing the same this election cycle.

This only lends credence to no one believes they can beat Rocha in an election.

Often known as a “people’s” councilman, Rocha is known for his generous nature. He knows everyone, reaches out to those in need, and will often visit the homes of those he thinks could use a friend.

Not only that, but he often has a populist touch to his voting habits. Take the Vulcan mining issue for example. Rocha was the sole no vote on the issue that faced intense scrutiny and was lambasted by neighboring Duarte officials and residents, as well as many Azusa residents.

Whether that was the popular vote among Azusa residents remains to be seen. What we do know is that Rocha may have become such an entrenched character of the council, that no one appears ready to take him on in an election.

Especially, in this election where there seems to be an opportunity – somewhat – for a challenger. A major issue is before the city (Vulcan mining) which a candidate has the opportunity to distinguish themselves on. In addition, a jumbled field follows any of those vying for an open council position. There are six council candidates campaigning for two spots, which includes a battle against the incumbents holding the positions now. This thought had to cross someone’s mind: Would I rather have a one vs. one, winner take all fight or a knock down, bare knuckle, wrestle mania match with five other candidates (maybe more) where other challengers could siphon votes from me and give the incumbents an edge?

Yet, no one appears to want to take that risk against Rocha.

It begs the question: Is he untouchable?

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Azusa Mayor Joe Rocha announces (early) he will seek reelection


About two weeks ago at an event with some of his supporters and friends, Mayor Joe Rocha announced he will seek reelection in March.

Rocha said he normally announces his campaign before the political season hits full throttle because he runs a “grass roots campaign.” He needs early word of mouth in order to be competitive because he won’t ask for political contributions, he said.

“It makes me uncomfortable in these economic times to ask people for money for signs,” Rocha said to me in a phone conversation today.

He said he will run on his record and use friends around town to ask others to support his campaign.

He hasn’t heard of anyone running against him (neither have I) and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was once again unopposed. Rocha is regarded by many in the community as being someone who votes with his heart as much as his mind. He is actively involved in the community and a vocal advocate for the needy and veterans.

He is also accessible. I have heard numerous stories from people calling on Rocha or him visiting people at their homes (without him trying to draw attention to it) to help with a problem or offer some counseling.

Those efforts have made him many friends in the community that would make it difficult for a challenger to run against him.

In addition, he was the only council person to vote against the Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining proposal. How that would play out in an election is yet to be seen.

Besides Vulcan, major topics in the next election would be getting a grocery store, downtown development and bringing a quality hotel to Azusa, Rocha said.

Rocha was first elected Mayor in 2007 when he defeated incumbent Diane Chagnon, leaving behind his council seat.

He then ran unopposed in 2009 for his first reelection campaign.

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