More comparisons between Azusa mining issue and Rosemead Wal-Mart

While researching this story comparing a referendum in Azusa of Vulcan Materials Co.’s new amended mining plan versus Rosemead residents earlier failed attempt to stop a Wal-Mart in the city, there were some other interesting parallels that I stumbled across.

Community groups filed lawsuits against the Wal-Mart projects’ environmental impact report for being incomplete, much like Duarte’s lawsuit against the Azusa Rock Quarry plan’s EIR, claiming it is insufficient.

A judge agreed that Wal-mart’s EIR was incomplete, but the ruling only stalled the project.

What I found most interesting was the Rosemead council came under fire for having an emergency vote to grant Wal-Mart a certificate of occupancy, something opponents said violated the Ralph M. Brown Act’s open meeting laws.

Azusa is facing similar claims after an urgency vote to reconsider the mining plan. The council had originally voted against it, but later voted to bring it back for a second vote at a council meeting without putting the item on the agenda. Duarte’s lawsuit includes alleging Azusa violated the Brown Act.

In Rosemead, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office faulted the council, but did not demand corrective action because the Wal-Mart was already built and open.

Will Azusa’s council face the same fate? And, if so, what are the potential implications?

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Weekend in review plus some bonus football smack talk

Before we get into week-in-review, I want to take this time to put Chargers’ fans on blast.

I am not a Raiders fan by any means, nor am I am Charger’s hater. In fact, nine times out of ten, I root for the Bolts over those norther demons. But this weekend all I heard from Chargers’ fans was disrespect and comments about how Sunday’s game was nothing more than a practice game. I can’t say how happy it makes me when someone talks trash, takes a team lightly, and makes ludacris claims only to have them get beat. Best thing that happens in sports. You know that movie ‘Little Giants‘? Underdogs win sometimes, that is why they even have the word underdog. Let that be a lesson to those San Diegans who thought they had a stats padding day set up for them.

Here is the weekend news you missed, but should know about.

In Azusa, the potential affects of a Azusa Rock Quarry mining referendum are still being debated.
Two attorney’s involved in a Rosemead Wal-Mart referendum (one for and one against) take a look at the implications in Azusa.

After she filed a lawsuit against Councilman Roger Hernandez, people working for in West Covina claim public information officer Sue Williams is rarely at work.

In Diamond Bar, officials let go of a building officials who previously worked as a planning director in Bell.

Say hello to the new face of the Canyon City Alliance

I got a press release from Elizabeth Ramirez yesterday announcing that Canyon City Alliance had hired a one Elizabeth Ramirez. Weird, same name! I wonder if the other Elizabeth Ramirez even knows that!

OK, OK. I know they are the same person. Mostly because Elizabeth Ramirez said they were.

Anyhoo, since I haven’t really talked about them yet, the Canyon City Alliance is a group of businesses, police, and community members who support the newly approved Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan.

Ramirez will be the executive director of the group that also boasts Azusa Chamber of Commerce executive board member Mercedes Castro as president.

Here is the press release:

Elizabeth Ramirez Hired to Lead Canyon City Alliance

Longtime Azusa Resident to Serve as Alliance Executive Director

October 6, 2010 (AZUSA, CA) – The Canyon City Alliance has announced the hiring of Elizabeth
Ramirez as the organization’s Executive Director. Ramirez will be responsible for daytoday
operations of the Canyon City Alliance and will coordinate all community activities related to
the Alliance’s support for the City’s recent approval of the Azusa Rock project.

“We are excited and fortunate to have Elizabeth leading the Canyon City Alliance. As a lifelong
resident of Azusa, she will provide outstanding leadership to our organization. Throughout her
involvement with numerous Azusa nonprofit organizations, she has earned the respect of our
community and we look forward to her joining our team” said Mercedes Castro, President of
the Canyon City Alliance.

The Canyon City Alliance was founded by business, law enforcement and community leaders to
help promote a vibrant business climate in the City of Azusa and throughout the San Gabriel
Valley. The City of Azusa is home to nearly 50,000 residents and will soon be celebrating the
opening of a new Target department store, construction of a Metro Gold Line Station near
downtown, as well as the recently approved requirement to restore Azusa’s hillsides.

“I am excited to be joining a group of such dedicated residents and community leaders.
Working together, the Canyon City Alliance will be able to help promote the programs, activities
and quality of life projects that are critical to Azusa residents and the San Gabriel Valley,” said
Elizabeth Ramirez.

Referendum Pandemonium or Lord of the Rock 2: The Twin Ridges

I hope you like sequels.

Round two of Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan is about to begin after a referendum against the project qualified for the ballot Monday. (I would say let’s get ready to rumble, but I don’t want Michael Buffer to sue me. Besides, let’s get ready to rock has a solid pun to go with it. So…)

Let’s get ready to rock….again!

All your favorite characters will be back including Richard Deem and Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez from Save Our Canyon, Conal McNamara and Fran Delach from Azusa’s city staff, and you can expect City Manager Darrell George, Mayor Margaret Finlay and public relations specialist Mary Barrow from Duarte to all make a cameo appearance.

Some new stars will also be appearing, including Peg Casey who has taken on the spokesperson role for Vulcan Materials, replacing Todd Priest (who is still working on the project with his firm Curt Pringle and Associates) and Paul Naccachian, former Azusa council candidate, and leader of the referendum proponent’s group Azusans Against Mining Expansion.

This battle should be hotly contested. Unlike the council review and vote, the political implications of a referendum throw a few logs on the fire.

If the referendum is put on the March election ballot, it will coincide with the council elections. In addition, the sheer weight of money and political campaigns are sure to amp up the political rhetoric volume throughout Azusa.

Also, in a battle that has mostly been contested from Duarte residents, it will be very interesting to see how Azusa residents will see this project.

Here. We. Go.

UPDATE: Azusa Rock Quarry referendum deadline is today

I haven’t heard anything from the Azusa city clerk’s office this morning, but the deadline for the county to respond on the Azusa Rock Quarry referendum effort is today.

Members of the political action group Azusans Against Mining Expansion submitted 2,532 signatures to the city clerk’s office. They needed 1,650 registered voter signatures to qualify the referendum.

The referendum would then head to the ballot either next March during the council elections, or during a special election. Its intention is to repeal Vulcan Materials Co.’s development agreement with the city over its recently amended Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan.

AAME believe by repealing the development agreement, it will nullify the council’s decision to approve the plan. City officials believe it won’t stop the plan, but only take away money gained by the city via the development agreement.

The Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office deadline to respond for the confirmation of qualified signatures is today, but what time they will hand them over to Azusa is not known.

We will have something posted on the website the first we hear of it.

UPDATE: County told me the signatures have been reviewed and are now being looked at by the division manager and assistant registrar. It will then go to the County Clerk for final review before the results are given to the city either today or tomorrow.

She declined to give the preliminary results of the count.

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A weekend to remember (and look, you can with this recap! How nice.)

Here is a quick look at the cost of Azusa’s environmental impact report for the recently approved Azusa Rock Quarry project.

A recent survey shows SGV school districts pay superintendents an average of $185,000 annually.

Advocates against police checkpoints say a new video shows an illegal checkpoint run by the Baldwin Park Police Department. A local expert agrees.

And look, someone won $150,000 from a winning lottery ticket sold in Covina. Who’s happy for him/her? That’s right, nobody because we are all bitter we didn’t win that cash (and it was SO close!)

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Vulcan announces Saturday access day through mining site to Fish Canyon trail

Vulcan Materials Co. will host an open access day to Fish Canyon on Saturday, officials said.

The mining company will provide shuttles for access through its Azusa Rock Quarry mining site to reach the Fish Canyon Trail located just behind the site.

There will be free parking at Vulcan’s site for those who wish to attend. The three mile hike leads to the Fish Canyon Falls, noted as one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the San Gabriel Valley.

Access starts at 7 a.m. with shuttles running to the beginning of the trail until noon. All hikers must return to the site by 3 p.m.

Vulcan’s site is at the north end of Encanto Parkway, off Foothill Boulevard, in Azusa.

SGV Mystery: The case of the canceled Azusa referendum fundraiser at the American Legion

Too much with the headline? I thought so too.

Anyway… If you are involved in the referendum issue in Azusa regarding Vulcan Materials’ mining project, you are probably aware of the most recent fundraising snafu.

If you aren’t, here is the short recap: Azusans Against Mining Expansion planned a fundraiser for the referendum effort at the Azusa American Legion.

Upon public notice (including a brief in the Tribune) of the event, the legion people got spooked because they feared people thought they were endorsing the referendum effort. Despite another public announcement (another brief in the Tribune) which stated the legion was a neutral party, the event was still canceled.

On the surface, the episode seems to border on the absurd while it sits in the realm of over reaction. Most people know that American Legions, VFWs and other community groups with event halls often rent out those spaces as a way to make a quick buck. In this case, the American Legion was more a location than an entity.

So why the fuss?

For the American Legion officials to react in such a way means their decision became controversial. The question is, how?

Was it public outcry? Possible.

The issue is contentious and the legion is a public facility meant for military personnel of varied political affiliations in Azusa. Maybe they had some angry residents make an issue out of it.

But that’s unlikely.

While the Azusa Rock Quarry is controversial, most of the public outcry has been against the project with support coming at a more tempered tone and often from public officials or pockets of community members.

What is more likely is pressure from public officials. City Council, staff, business partners, Azusa business officials, someone with clout came forward upset with the legion’s decision to host the event. That pressure spawned the political issue and thus the event’s cancellation. Is that true? As of yet, I have nothing to suggest it is besides a whisper here and a grumbling there. But it seems like the most likely reason.

UPDATE: Spoke with councilman Uriel Macias, who has had his own events at the Legion and is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, and he said he knew nothing about the issues with the Legion and AAME except what he read in the paper.

He said he heard rumors that he called the legion to pressure them out of the event, but called that assertion “ridiculous.”

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Duarte mayor uses Azusa Rock Quarry comparison to argue against marijuana dispensary

I am asking for trouble writing about this, so here is a warning:

This post is Vulcan related.

I covered the medical marijuana dispensary public hearing last night in Duarte where the Regional Planning Commission rejected a plan for one in an unincorporated county area in Arcadia, which is near El Monte, Baldwin Park, Duarte and Monrovia.

The first speaker was Margaret Finlay, mayor of Duarte, who compared the issue of the dispensary to that of her city’s battle against Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan.

“People that are for this are those who are doing to make money off of it,” Finlay said of the mining plan. “I think this (dispensary plan) is a similar situation.”

Leon San Blas, the applicant for the dispensary, said he was opening the business not to make money, but out of the goodness of his heart. San Blas, wheel chair bound himself, uses medical marijuana to relief pain.

I don’t think too many people bought the “it’s marijuana to help the community” business plan.

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Office of Mining Reclamation approves Azusa Rock Quarry reclamation bond

It an elegantly worded letter (sarcasm) the Office of Mining Reclamation responded to Azusa’s financial assurance cost estimate submitted regarding the reclamation bond for Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan.

The bond would serve as insurance for the planned reclamation, which Vulcan has billed as a more innovative, technologically advanced and environmentally friendly way to reshape the hillsides post-mining.

OMR found the $81 million bond to be “adequate” and had no further comments on its “adequacy.”

Now that OMR sees the cost estimate is “adequate”, Azusa now needs to file the bond with the agency within 30 days, according to the letter.

You can view the letter for yourself following the absurdly titled link below.


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