Ontario Suit Vs. L.A. For Return Of Airport Proceeds To Discovery Phase

(September 27) RIVERSIDE—Riverside Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Peterson on Wednesday denied the city of Los Angeles’ motion to immediately dismiss Ontario’s lawsuit against it to have ownership and control of Ontario International Airport returned to the city for which the facility is named and which hosts it.
Attorneys for Los Angeles challenged both the factual basis and legal principles cited in the lawsuit, maintaining Ontario has no legal grounds to undo the joint-powers agreement, known as a JPA, Ontario entered into with the larger city in 1967 as part of an effort to help the airport reach its passenger-handling potential. That joint powers arrangement resulted in the eventual transfer of ownership of the aerodrome to Los Angeles.
Ontario now wants to reclaim the airport and has retained the Washington, D.C.-based firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton  to represent it.  The case is being heard in Riverside County, which is outside the jurisdictions of  San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County,  in which Ontario and Los Angeles are located.
Ontario maintains it took the extraordinary step of filing the suit because of what its officials characterize as the deliberate mismanagement of Ontario International Airport by Los Angeles World Airports, the division of the city of Los Angeles which operates Los Angeles International Airport, Van Nuys Airport and Ontario Airport. Los Angeles World Airports, Ontario maintains, is engaging in the mismanagement of Ontario Airport to drive down passenger traffic there to benefit Los Angeles International Airport.
In 1967, the city of Ontario entered into a joint powers authority arrangement with the city of Los Angeles to allow Los Angeles to manage Ontario International, where passenger traffic at that time was less than 200,000 per year. Los Angeles, using its control of gate positions at Los Angeles International Airport as leverage, induced commercial airlines to fly more frequently into and out of Ontario and to use Ontario as an alternate landing destination during fog-ins at Los Angeles International Airport in lieu of Santa Barbara Airport.
Under Los Angeles’s management, use of Ontario International Airport vastly increased. Over the four-and-a-half decades Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports had control of Ontario Airport, substantial improvements were made to the facility, including the paving of its gravel parking lot, the lengthening and modernizing of its runways and the building of two modern terminals. In 1985, after all of the terms set down in the joint powers authority operating agreement had been met, Ontario deeded the airport to Los Angeles for no consideration.
In 2007, slightly more than 7.2 million passengers flew into and out of Ontario, a record for the facility. Since that time, however, as improvements at Los Angeles International Airport have been made and Los Angeles World Airports has imposed higher per-enplaned passenger fees on the airlines at Ontario than in Los Angeles, ridership into and out of Ontario has dramatically decreased, falling this year to a projected 4 million.
Ontario has for the last three years faulted Los Angeles World Airports for that decline and, after pushing for a different management approach at the airport, has lobbied to have Los Angeles return control of Ontario International Airport to Ontario. Last year, Ontario formed with San Bernardino County the Ontario International Airport Authority, an entity intended to take on management and operational responsibility at the facility upon Los Angeles surrendering and Ontario regaining ownership. Earlier this year, Ontario sued Los Angeles and Los Angeles World Airports in an effort to force Los Angeles to relinquish control of the airport.
Los Angeles World Airports has consistently insisted that the drawdown in passenger traffic at Ontario International Airport is a consequence of the economic slowdown gripping the nation, state and region since 2008, as well as contractions in the airline industry, and has denied Ontario’s charges that the airport is being mismanaged deliberately to decrease passenger traffic there or to benefit Los Angeles International.
While the court had given early indication that it was sympathetic to Los Angeles’ contention that under the terms of the 1967 joint powers agreement and Los Angeles’ performance with regard to it that Los Angeles is legally entitled to retaining management, operational authority and title to the facility, Peterson, a retired judge who sits by assignment to hear matters of law and motion at the court, backed away from such a definitive declaration on September 25, allowing the case to proceed into the discovery phase, giving Ontario an opportunity to ply its case that the 1967 agreement and the JPA should be dissolved or in some measure amended.
Steven Rosenthal, an attorney for Los Angeles, argued in vain that Los Angeles has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars of improvements into Ontario Airport and is staying current on $4 million worth of financing payments for those improvements.
Ontario has requested internal documents pertaining to Los Angeles World Airports’ management of the airport and wants to initiate depositions of Los Angeles officials as early as next month.
The next court hearing on the case is scheduled for December 2.

County Hires Coordinator For General & Community Plan Drafts

(September 27) The county this week moved to hire a community planning coordinator to assist its land use services division in completing an update of the county general plan and fourteen of its community plans.
According to Tom Hudson, the director of the county’s land use services department and Terry Rahhal, the county’s planning director, the community planning coordinator, indentified as Jason Jones, will have a limited 15-month tenure with the county that will end when the general plan updates and community plan drafts are completed. He will receive a total  compensation package of $188,184 for the 15-month assignment.
In a report to the county board of supervisors from Hudson and Rahhal dated September 24, it was asserted that “Approval of this item will authorize an employment contract with Mr. Jason Jones to direct the preparation of 14 community plans as a community planning coordinator. The county is moving into a new era of community-based planning. Fourteen community plans and the county general plan will be updated starting in this fiscal year. Previously, community plans prepared by the county have not been very effective in meeting the unique needs of individual communities, nor have the priorities of these communities been well integrated into the general plan. Most communities in the county are concerned about managing development in ways that protect local character, lifestyles and sense of place. As a contract employee, Mr. Jones will provide the county with his total focus with an estimated cost savings of $229,000 as compared to like consultants. During the term of his contract, the services to be performed include the preparation of 14 community plans. Through this process, Mr. Jones will help ensure three key ends: 1) Each plan will reflect the unique priorities, heritage and conditions of the individual community; 2) There will be continuity among all community plans in terms of overall process and deliverables; and 3) Collection of information from each community will be done in ways that support county needs in the general plan update  with regard to priorities for public facilities, infrastructure and community development.”
According to Hudson and Rahhal, Jones’ duties and responsibilities will include focusing on the preparation of a prototype community plan, guiding staff in the preparation of the initial community plan document, leading staff in terms of the plan’s vision, organization and team, community goals, lifestyle, land use, character, connections/circulation, and regulatory system components, forecasting the demand for infrastructure and public facilities, creating design guidelines, and compiling reference materials.
Hudson and Rahhal said that in laying out the planning documents, Jones is expected to formulate a model for all subsequent community plans and to identify all community plans’ priorities that should be addressed in the general plan update.
In their report, Hudson and Rahhal were highly laudatory of Jones’ skills, declaring, “Mr. Jones is a national-level expert in design and form-based code, a Certified Downtown Professional, and a proven specialist in community development, design and outreach. Well known in the western U.S. for his community outreach and facilitation skills, Mr. Jones has worked in San Bernardino County, is from Southern California, and knows the High Desert region well. Mr. Jones’ long history of success, his abilities in guiding community design, setting design standards, and strengthening local character are particularly well suited to the approach we propose for this new era of community plans.”
Jones will receive an annual salary of  $128,107, with no benefits. He will be provided with an annual expense stipend of $22,440 in addition to his salary. Thus, according to Hudson and Rahhal, “The total cost of the employment contract is $188,184 which includes $160,134 for salary expenses and $28,050 in related expenses. Benefits are not included in the contract. Sufficient appropriation exists in the land use services department 2013-14 budget for this work (and related expenses), which is a part of the general plan update. Appropriations will also be included in the land use services department 2014-15 budget. Mr. Jones will work full time on directing the preparation of community plans for 15 months (2,600 hours) at an hourly rate of $61.59 plus expenses. At the end of the 15 months, his work will be completed and his contract will be terminated. Consultants with similar expertise and background would be paid $150 per hour plus expenses. The financial savings in hiring Mr. Jones as a contract employee exceeds $229,000. A hired consultant, with the combination of Mr. Jones’ skills, would also have travel, per diem and accommodation expenses.”

SBC Desert’s Goldstone Complex Serves As Electronic Portal To The Universe

FORT IRWIN—At a remote reach of San Bernardino County, the second largest rotating antenna in the world probes the heavens perpetually, monitoring broadcasts from a host of earth-launched space exploratory vehicles and listening for extraterrestrial radio frequency emanations.
Known as Deep Space Station 14, the device was commissioned for construction by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in 1965 and completed the following year.  It is 236 feet high, and was designed to be capable of rotating on its axis without restrictions  so that it can be vectored in every conceivable direction and cover the entirety of the sky.
Deep Space Station 14 is surrounded by  eleven smaller space antennas on a 52-square mile portion of 997-square mile Fort Irwin referred to as the  Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, commonly called the Goldstone Observatory.
Goldstone’s isolated location, far from the bustle and electronic clutter of competing radio signals that can interfere with transmissions to or from space, assists in its mission of plucking from the ether signals that must travel hundreds of thousands, millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions or even billions of miles to reach earth.
Deep Space Station 14 and its sister devices have been trained on the heavens to pick up potential radio or electronic emanations from within our own solar system, outside our solar system but within our galaxy, distant galaxies or points beyond, as the case may be. Deep Station 14 was used for monitoring transmissions from the Apollo program, which included nine missions that achieved an orbit around the moon and six successful lunar landings.  In more recent years, it has been used to communicate with unmanned space vehicles charting the extreme end of our solar system, including fly-bys past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, which scientists now say is not a planet at all. Deep Space Station 14 and the other Goldstone antennas have also been used as sensitive radio telescopes for such scientific investigations as mapping quasars and other celestial radio sources; radar mapping planets, the moon, comets and asteroids; spotting comets and asteroids with the potential to strike earth; and the search for ultra-high energy neutrino interactions in the moon by using large-aperture radio antennas.
Deep Space Station 14 is the centerpiece of the Goldstone Complex. Despite its advanced age of 47 years, the government is committed to keeping it as a viable cosmic listening post. In 2010, while NASA was anticipating a series of energetic unmanned spacecraft launches which are intended to ultimately culminate in a manned flight to Mars, NASA undertook a $1.25 million refurbishing and repair project on the device’s eroding 80-foot circumference  hydrostatic bearing that supports the weight of the antenna. The bearing, a ring of steel and cement, provides a foundation for the dish, allowing it to spin on a horizontal plane, rotating by sliding on a thin coat of oil constantly pumped on the bearing’s surface. In more than four decades of use, NASA has learned extreme desert temperatures and the ubiquitous sand make for  a highly corrosive combination working against the longevity of the load supporting bearing.
The hydrostatic bearing’s runner had grown warped or distended and the bearing itself was unevenly worn down, resulting in leakage of oil from the bearing seeping out and chemically abrading the grout beneath the antenna, although the device remained functional.  Technicians utilized dozens of heavy duty hydraulicjacks to lift the more than 1,500 ton telescope less than a single inch. In that tight clearance, workers completed the repairs, resurfacing the substrate with a grout that is three times as resistant to the destructiveness of the oil than was the original grout and substituting a different blend of surface emollient that is a combination of natural and synthetic petroleum that provides for greater resistance to viscosity breakdown than did the original oil.
As a consequence of its 2010 makeover, Deep Space Station 14 remains the most powerful, accurate and nimble device of its kind in the world, equal in capability to two newer and largely identical antennas at the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex in Spain and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia.
Since it became function in 1966, five years after the United States entered into the so-called Space Race with the Soviet Union in 1961, Deep Space Station 14 played a part in virtually every NASA spacecraft venture between the earth and the moon and all of NASA’s efforts in sending spacecraft beyond the moon. It played a role in relaying communications between the earth and all attempted and actual manned moon landings, including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s maiden voyage to the moon in July 1969 aboard the lunar module that departed from the orbiting Apollo 11 and vital communications needed to bring astronauts James Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise back to earth after the aborted Apollo 13 moon mission in 1970.

SBC To Probe Chino Airport Contamination From CIM

The state of California and its Department of Corrections have given the county permission to access  Chino Prison’s grounds in order to carry out the remediation of  groundwater contamination originating at Chino Airport.
On October 31, 1990 the California Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a clean-up and abatement order to the county of San Bernardino for suspected contamination of groundwater underneath Chino Airport. The groundwater is suspected to have been contaminated due to past usage of solvents, in particular, trichloroethylene and  perchloroethylene on the airport property.
According to James E. Jenkins, the director of the county department of airports, “The county has complied with and continues to comply with this order by conducting activities at the airport to identify all potential sources of contamination; characterize identified source areas; remediate discovered soil; characterize and identify the lateral and vertical extent of ground water contamination; monitor ground water contamination; and mitigate identified ground water contamination at the Chino Airport located at 7000 Merrill Avenue, Chino. The county received an updated clean-up and abatement order from the water board in June 2008. This order required the county to conduct investigation, containment and mitigation of volatile organic compounds in groundwater emanating from the Chino Airport. As part of this work, the county requires access to certain portions of the state’s property.”
This week, upon Jenkins’ recommendation, the county board of supervisors approved the form of a right-of-entry permit agreement between the county and the state of California, acting through its department of general services, for access to real property located at the California Institution for Men in Chino to facilitate the county’s continued compliance with the clean-up and abatement order.
“Execution of this right-of-entry permit agreement will facilitate the county’s continued groundwater characterization and investigation of the extent of the plume at the Chino Airport as referenced in the California Regional Water Quality Control Board Clean-up and Abatement Order Nos. 90-134 and R8-2008-0064,” Jenkins told the board of supervisors. “Test holes will be drilled on property owned by the Department of Corrections at the California Institute for Men in Chino, which is in close proximity to the Chino Airport, and water samples will be extracted for further analysis. The state’s permission to access the property terminates upon the earlier of the county’s completion of its work, termination by the state, or on October 18, 2013. The department of airports and the county’s consultant (TetraTech) are prepared to commence this work and to complete it within this time frame.”
Jenkins continued, “This action is time sensitive in that the agreement requires the Department of County Airports to provide the state with a 7 day written notice prior to entry on the property, with completion of its investigation work prior to October 18, 2013.”
Majestic Realty Company has entered into a 60-year lease for 150 acres of unused state-owned land near the Chino Institution for Men and south of the former Herman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility and west of Euclid Avenue  on which it will initiate develop of the  property for industrial use on October 21, 2013.
“The [Majestic Realty] construction will begin with substantial excavation s and grading (earthwork),” Jenkins said. “Once the earthwork commences, the county’s access to the site will terminate, precluding any further site investigation. The county must complete this site investigation pursuant to the cleanup and abatement orders issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the approved work plan.”

Upland Council Mulls Resolution Calling For Amendment Allowing Campaign Donation Limits

(September 27) UPLAND – Despite the resistance of city councilman Brendan Brandt, Brandt and his council colleagues will soon give consideration to passing a resolution calling upon the U.S. Congress to consider passage of a Constitutional amendment limiting the amount of money corporations can contribute to political campaigns.
A series of factors led to the council’s 4-1 vote this week calling upon the city attorney to draft a resolution to be presented at the next council meeting. There has been growing sentiment at the national, state and local level to limit the influence of money on the political process. That movement resulted in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, the California Political Reform Act of 1974, the Federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 and a campaign finance limitation ordinance passed by the Upland City Council last year that was revamped earlier this year.
A group, Citizens United, which sought to be able to utilize money available to it from a disparate number of sources, including private donors, political action committees and corporations, to produce and broadcast films, including movies and documentaries advocating for and against the election or reelection of certain candidates on a national level, brought suit to establish its right to do so. In that suit, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the United States Supreme Court in 2010 held in a 5-4 vote that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations, associations, or labor unions.
Advocates of campaign contribution limits were undeterred by the sharply divided ruling of the highest court in the land. Further strengthened by a dissenting opinion authored by Justice John Paul Stevens that stated, “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold,” those advocates, including Common Cause, are undertaking an effort to convince Congress to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would render moot the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision.
For several months now, activists have been approaching local governmental officials, calling upon them to pass resolutions asking Congress to effectuate enforceable campaign spending limits by instilling into the U.S. Constitution, through the amendment process, the right to impose campaign donation and spending limits.
Undoing the Supreme Court’s equating of being able to make unlimited campaign donations with free speech is of particular relevance in Upland. Previously, the city council had enacted an ordinance applicable to city campaigns that set the maximum contribution candidates were allowed to receive from any individual, organization or entity to $2,000 per two-year election cycle.
In April, the city council revised that campaign contribution limit ordinance downward, reducing the maximum contribution candidates are allowed to receive from any single donor to $1,000 per election.
City officials collectively expressed the view that such limitations were needed to prevent big money and special interests from having undue influence over the political and governmental process. In Upland, the issue of political influence is of special sensitivity because of the city’s recent travail with former mayor John Pomierski, who dominated the city politically for a decade, utilizing hefty campaign contributions to keep himself in office and ward off any political challenges. Simultaneously, Pomierski was soliciting bribes and utilizing his position at City Hall to ensure project and permit approval from the city’s planning and community development divisions, its planning commission and council for his cronies, his political contributors and those paying him graft money. He was indicted by a federal grand jury, was convicted last year and is now serving his sentence in a federal institution.
Two Upland citizens, Mary Lou Williams and Curt Lewis, as well as the Southern California  organizer for Common Cause, John  Smith, came before the city council on Monday, September 23, to ask the council to pass a resolution supporting Congressional action in adopting a Constitutional amendment establishing campaign contribution limits.
Councilman Brendan Brandt, while maintaining he was not opposed to the underlying intent of establishing and maintaining campaign contribution limits, said he did not think it appropriate for the city council to get involved in what is essentially a federal issue. He said he did not want the city to set a precedent of passing resolutions relating to advocacy for or against U.S. Congressional action.
Brandt suggested that a ballot measure by which the city’s voters could make their views on the subject known would be proper, although he noted that the cost of such an electoral undertaking would probably prove prohibitive. He made a motion to have the council officially remain clear of the effort and allow Common Cause or other interested residents undertake to put such a measure on the local ballot if they so wish.
Councilman Glenn Bozar, however, saying he was mindful of the expense putting such a referendum on the ballot would entail, questioned why the city could not simply draft a resolution and have the council, speaking on behalf of the Upland community, pass the resolution and endorse the call for Congressional action on the issue. He offered a superseding motion to that end. Mayor Ray Musser and council members Gino Filippi and Debby Stone supported Bozar’s motion, with Brandt opposed.
Fillipi, who has proven to be the current council’s major recipient of campaign cash based upon donor support to his successful campaign for the council in 2010 and his unsuccessful run for mayor last year, supported Bozar’s motion, even though he had earlier objected to the terms of the campaign finance restrictions imposed by the council.
In their presentation to the council, Williams, Lewis and Smith suggested that the city involve itself in the campaign finance reform movement at the national level because the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision could pave the way for challenges to locally imposed restrictions.

County Planning Commission Rejects Solar Field Proposal In Oak Hills

SAN BERNARDINO—The San Bernardino County Planning Commission has denied Sycamore Physicians Partners’ application for a permit to construct a solar energy project in Oak Hills.
Sycamore Physicians Partners’ application had been filed with the county prior to the county’s imposition of a yet-to-expire moratorium on the consideration and approval of solar projects earlier this year.
Sycamore had asked the county land use services division to certify a 2.7-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility on 20 acres in the unincorporated county area south and west of Hesperia in a rural living land use district on the northeast corner of Fuente Avenue and El Centro Road.
County staff, however, acceding to widespread objections by homeowners in rural desert communities throughout the county who maintain that solar fields are a too-intensive use that is incompatible with nearby residential neighborhoods, recommended that Sycamore’s application for the conditional use permit be denied. According to the staff report, the project would have a “significant impact on the environment, specifically with regard to scenic resources.” According to county planning director Terri Rahhal, at a previous public hearing on August 8 there was considerable public opposition to the project and “expressed concerns about land use compatibility, given the location of the project site in an area surrounded by rural residential uses.”
Rahhal said the planning commission made a tentative finding at that time that the proposed project “would not be compatible with the rural character of the Oak Hills community and would therefore not be consistent with the Oak Hills Community Plan.”

County Extends Lease On Former Ag Preserve Land To Trio Of Dairymen

The county has extended its lease arrangements with a partnership involving three dairymen on two large properties in the former Chino Agricultural Preserve that will allow the dairy the three run to remain in operation at least until 2015.
In January 1992 the county used money available to it under the auspices of Proposition 70, which provides for the “acquisition, development, rehabilitation, protection, or restoration of park, wildlife, coastal, and natural lands in California including lands supporting unique or endangered plants or animals,” to purchase a 99.14-acre dairy with four single-family residences located at 8919 Merrill Avenue in Chino. The property was leased back to the seller until January 1994. The dairy then remained dormant until April 1995. On March 27, 1995, the county real estate division approved a 56-month lease for 10.9 acres of this 99.14 acre dairy with a termination date of November 30, 1999. The lease was subsequently amended to add 3.02 acres for a total of 13.92 acres.
On November 7, 1995, the board of supervisors approved a five-year lease agreement with a three, five and eight-year option to extend the term with Peter H. Bouma, Dana M. Bouma and Sam De Kruyf, who were doing business as  P&D Dairy (P&D), for the remaining 85.22 acres, including one single-family residence. The lease also contained a provision that allowed P&D to lease the other three single-family residences and the remaining 13.92 acres when the existing leases terminated. The residence at 9029 Merrill Avenue was added to the P&D lease on April 1, 1996 for additional rent of $500 per month and the residence at 9019 Merrill Avenue was added on December 20, 1996 for additional rent of $800 per month. The residence at 15102 Carpenter Avenue in Chino remains under a separate lease between the county and another tenant. On December 1, 1999, the 13.92 acres were added for a total of 99.14 acres and additional rent of $5,445 per month for a total monthly rent of $14,245. In the nearly eighteen years since the lease was originally approved, the board has approved three amendments to extend the term and add one two-year option.
Additionally, in January 1992, the county utilized Proposition 70 funds to purchase a 40.88-acre horse ranch located at 8961 Remington Avenue in Chino. The property was leased back to the seller for approximately three and a half years until June 30, 1995, after which the property remained vacant for several months. On April 22, 1997 the county board of supervisors approved an eight year, six-month lease, for 10.06 acres of the 40.88 acre horse ranch with Bouma,  Bouma and De Kruyf, under the auspices of  P & D Dairy for use as a heifer ranch.
The original term of the lease was from April 22, 1997 through October 31, 2005. In the sixteen years since the lease was originally approved, the board has approved two amendments to add 26.08 acres to the leased premises for a total of 36.14 acres, extend the term, and amend certain provisions of the lease.
On September 2012,  P & D provided the county with notice of its intent to exercise the final two-year options to extend the terms from November 2013 through October 31, 2015 on both the dairy and the heifer farm.
Accordingly,  David H. Slaughter, the director of real estate services for the county, has recommended that the county extend the leases. The board followed Slaughter’s recommendation.
“Because of the continuing depressed market conditions in the local dairy industry, the monthly rent will not be increased.” Slaughter said.
In his summary of the lease terms for the 99.19 acre dairy at 8919 Merrill Avenue, Slaughter said the county will charge P & D  $14,245 per month or $170,940 per year, which he said is “mid-range for comparable dairy land in the Chino area.”
With respect to the 36.14 acres at 8961 Remington Avenue being used as a heifer ranch, the county will charge P & D $4,660 monthly or $55,920 for the duration of the two-year lease extension.
Revenue from the leases will be deposited in the special revenue fund for properties acquired under the provisions of the California Wildlife, Coastal and Parkland Conservation Act of 1988 (Proposition 70).

Rodriguez Scores Narrow Victory In 52nd Assembly District Race

(September 27) Pomona Councilman Freddie Rodriguez outdistanced Ontario Mayor Paul Leon in Tuesday’s specially-held election to fill the vacancy in the 52nd Assembly District that came about when Norma Torres departed earlier this year to become state senator in the 32nd Senate District.
The 52nd Assembly District straddles Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, covering all of  Pomona, Ontario, Montclair, Chino and part of Fontana. With all precincts in the district reporting as of 11 p.m. on September 24, Rodriguez, a Democrat, topped Leon, who was formerly a Republican but reregistered with no party preference prior to the race. Of the 13,743 votes cast, Rodriquez logged 7,054 supporters to Leon’s 6,689, a relatively close 52 to 48 percent victory.
In the 52nd District, Republicans hold a 47 to 28 percent registration advantage over Republicans. After incumbent 32nd District State Senator Gloria Negrete-McLeod defeated incumbent Congressman Joe Baca in November, her departure from Sacramento to Washington, D.C. triggered a March vote to replace her in which seven candidates ran and Leon and Torres finished in the top two spots. Torres, a Democrat, handily defeated Leon, at that time a Republican, in the May run-off. Like the 52nd Assembly District, the 32nd Senatorial District is heavily Democratic.
In the election to replace Torres held in July, nine candidates including the newly independent Leon, Republican Dorothy Pineda and seven Democrats, including Rodriguez, vied. Leon finished first, but did not capture the required minimum of fifty percent plus one to win the seat. Rodriquez, boosted by an influx of Democratic party money, finished second. That forced a run-off.
With the district’s Democrats united behind him  on Tuesday, the former ambulance driver eked out a berth at  the state capital.

Sans Landfill Job, Burrtec Seeks To Lock Cities In On Long Term Pacts

(September 20) UPLAND—Five months after sustaining a major setback when the county elected not to extend Burrtec’s contract for the continued management of the county landfill system, the waste handling company is aggressively moving to shore up and extend its existing contracts with local municipalities, seeking to commit those cities to long term rates that will ensure the company’s prosperity into the coming decades.
But the evolution of the trash industry and the growing reluctance of cities to make lengthy commitments that lock in high rates unchecked by periodic bidding processes is thwarting the company’s strategy to maintain its vaunted position in San Bernardino County. In existence since 1955, Burrtec’s operation in San Bernardino County has steadily grown, as it has gained a trash hauling monopoly in 16 of the county’s 24 incorporated cities and 35 of its larger unincorporated communities. For the last ten years it has been San Bernardino County’s preeminent trash hauler. Prior to that, in 2001, it made a major leap forward when it successfully obtained the contract to run the county’s landfill system, a $17 million per year job that solidified its position as San Bernardino County’s major refuse handler and put it at or near the forefront of trash haulers in Southern California.
But with the county landfill operation contract set to expire this year, the county initiated a bidding process last year in which each competing company’s management rates were considered as but a single component in the bid package, which included the management companies’ abilities to guarantee usage of the landfills. Thus, Los Angeles County-based Arakelian Enterprises, Inc., which operates its refuse hauling and handling business as Athens Services, was selected over Burrtec.
While Burrtec proposed charging $15.8 million per year to run the county landfills and transfer stations and Arakelian/Athens came in higher, at $16,686,700 per year,  Athens committed to importing 800,000 tons of solid waste per year during the term of the contract, which is projected to bring gross revenue to the county in the amount of approximately $22.3 million per year for the duration of the contract, which runs through June 30, 2023, according to the county’s director of public works, Gerry Newcombe.
Athens is able to live up to that guarantee because it has waste hauling contracts in 33 cities in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside Counties. Burrtec would have brought in 380,000 tons. According to Newcombe, the net annual cost of having Arkelian/Athens run the landfills is thus $362,000 per year while the Burrtec’s would have charged the county  a net $9.5 million.
At this point, Burrtec remains a going concern despite having lost out in the the county landfills management sweepstakes, and retains its trash hauling contracts with the San Bernardino County cities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Highland, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, San Bernardino, Twentynine Palms, Upland, Victorville, Yucca Valley and Yucaipa and the unincorporated San Bernardino communities of Amboy, Angeles Oaks, Baker, Barton Flats, Bloomington, Cima, Crestline, Daggett, Del Rosa, Devore, Dumont Dunes, East Highlands, El Rancho Verde, Forest Falls, Fort Irwin, Halloran, Helendale, Hinkley, Kelso, Lake Arrowhead, Landers, Lenwood, Lucerne Valley, Ludlow, Mentone, Mountain Pass, Mt. Baldy, Newberry Springs, Nipton, Oak Glen, Running Springs, San Antonio Heights, Silver Lakes and Yermo.
Nevertheless, Burr-  tec’s loss of the county landfill management contract was an object lesson in how competitive and volatile the trash hauling business can be. For that reason, the company is now looking to consolidate what it now possesses, i.e., its franchise contracts. The company’s game plan  is to convince the cities and communities where it has current franchises  to extend those existing contracts for as many years as possible.
A case in point is Burrtec’s effort to convince officials in Upland to extend that city’s  current contract for trash hauling, which is not set to expire for another seven years. Burrtec is seeking to induce Upland to extend its existing contract by eight years more, thus ensuring that it will remain Upland’s trash hauler for at least 15 years, until 2028. Burrtec is offering to add street sweeping to the trash hauling service it is currently providing as part of that exclusive franchise arrangement.
If Burrtec’s proposal advances and is accepted by the city, Upland will presumably be able to save money by eliminating its in-house cost of providing the street sweeping service. Burrtec would enjoy a triple-fold gain. It would extend its contract by eight years. Moreover, it would eliminate the requirement that it engage in a bid process in another six or seven years to extend the contract, thereby avoiding the possibility that it would need to lower its rates to maintain the contract. And its proposal would increase the rate it charges Upland’s customers by 7.2 percent for the remainder of 2013-14; another 2.1 percent in July 2014; 2.1 percent in July 2015; 2.3 percent in July 2016; and 2.4 percent in 2017.
Whether Upland will accede to Burrtec’s overture is an open question.
The company has cultivated goodwill in Upland on a political level, with several of its principals, including company president Cole Burr, having demonstrated themselves as major donors to the campaign committees of city council members over the years, a practice Burrtec has maintained in all of the cities where it has trash hauling contracts as well as with the county board of supervisors, who sign off on the trash hauling franchises in the unincorporated county areas.
Burrtec has an established reputation for conscientious, thorough and reliable service.
Furthermore, a report by Roseville-based R3 Consulting Group, Inc. with regard to the Burrtec contract extension with Upland offers a somewhat cryptic and elliptical endorsement of the concept and could be used by the council to justify a vote to extend the franchise until 2028.
Nevertheless, a close examination of the consultant’s report betrays that R3 was provided with selective and incomplete information relating to the proposal, primarily information laid out by Burrtec. The report does not provide an exacting analysis of the full implication of contractually binding the city to its current trash hauler for the extended period Burrtec’s proposal envisions.
One factor militating against the city’s acceptance of the contract is a growing trend among municipalities to shy away from long term contracts that stipulate rates or pricing levels that cannot be adjusted downward. Another factor is the no-bid implication of the contract extension. Providing Burrtec with the advantage of specifying a fee and rate schedule that is arrived at outside of a public forum not subject to the downward pressure that naturally comes about during a competitive bid process runs contrary to the concept of open and transparent government and is not in keeping with the principal of looking after the financial interests of the city’s residents. In Upland, where its immediate past mayor is now in federal prison for having solicited and received bribes that involved backroom deals and City Hall-orchestrated favors to those who greased the mayor’s palm, granting Burtec a no-bid contract extension could raise a specter city officials would prefer remains dormant.
And significantly, the terms of Burrtec’s present contract, and any extension thereto, may be disadvantageous to the city. Under the contract, city residents pay Burrtec to haul away not only their trash but recyclable discards as well. Burrtec then sells those separated recyclables at a profit, making money at both ends. In recent years, companies have come into existence which will haul away recyclable material for free, or in some cases, pay to do so, turning a profit entirely on the sale of the materials. While the city is committed until 2020 to remain with the arrangement it now has with Burrtec, beginning in 2021 city residents could see a significant decline in their trash rates if the city contracts with a company that is willing to haul recyclables at no charge or provide customers with a rebate. By remaining with Burrtec under the current terms, such a savings by Upland residents would not be realized.

Chino Hills Settles Denton Encroachment Litigation

Just short of the opening of trial on a property encroachment case brought against it by Michael and Kim Denton, the city of Chino Hills has settled its dispute with the couple by agreeing to allow them to purchase 1,574 square feet of municipal-owned open space they have been occupying since they purchased their home on Hunter’s Gate Circle 14 years ago.
The Dentons are just one set of  hundreds of homeowners  – the city has quantified the number at 238 – who the city has accused of  building on, or placing improvements in various forms onto, property beyond their respective lot lines, including landscaping, walls, saunas, pools, gazebos and swing sets.
In the case of the Dentons, that matter was forced to a point of crisis when the couple, who purchased their home in 1999 from Gloria Vitagliano, were informed by the city in 2010 that the furthest extension of their backyard was encroaching on city-owned open space and that they had to remove their pool and spa along with a wrought iron fence,  irrigation and palm trees that Vitigliano had installed and planted in 1995.
The Dentons offered the city $10,000 for the property, but the city rejected that offer, instead saying it would provide them with a 15-year easement for the continued use of the property.  The Dentons then retained the firm of Gresham, Savage, Nolan and Tilden and in 2011 sued the city.
The Dentons claim the city allowed the Vitagliano/Denton encroachment, which was conspicuous and open, to stand, and did nothing to interfere with Ms. Vitagliano’s or their occupation of the approximately 1,574 square feet of land for more than 15 years. Nor did the city act in a timely manner to prevent them from removing the wrought-iron fence and replacing it with a glass wall and block fence, the Dentons asserted.
After attempts by the city to have the case dismissed outright, assistant city attorney Elizabeth Calciano made a motion to strike portions of the complaint. On March 11, Superior Court Judge Joseph Brisco ruled the case would go to trial September 30 with all of its causes of action intact. Last month, the Dentons made a motion for summary judgment, but Brisco rejected that, ruling that triable issues of material fact exist with respect to the correct zoning of the property, whether Vitagliano and by extension the Dentons violated local ordinances and zoning laws which resulted in a failure to comply with the covenants, codes and restrictions on the property, whether the Dentons could have obtained  what they sought through a lot line adjustment and whether certain previous statements made by either the city or the Dentons contradict the positions they took in regard to the lawsuit.
While the Dentons’ lawyer, Theodore Stream, maintained his clients had no knowledge of the encroachment, which the city was obliged to redress in a timely manner, the city maintained that a document recorded at the time of the sale to them by Vitigliano contains a disclosure stating there is a “possible discrepancy regarding lot size/fence line.” The city maintained that this demonstrated the Dentons were on notice as to the possible encroachment at the time of the sale.
A settlement reached by the Dentons and the city on September 10 during a mediation conference conducted by retired Judge John W. Kennedy renders the lawsuit moot. According to city attorney Mark Hensley, the city council in closed session that evening moved rapidly to accept the terms of the settlement, which involved the city consenting to a “quitclaim” of the 1,574 square feet of land for the agreed-upon price of $11,000 and the Dentons’ willingness to pay escrow and document fees, together with their own legal costs in pursuing the lawsuit. The Dentons’ title insurance company, First American Title of Orange County, will cover the $11,000 purchase cost, escrow and document fees as well as Gresham, Savage, Nolan and Tilden’s legal fees.   The city was given, under the terms of the settlement, 120 days to process land use entitlements, a lot line adjustment, and environmental documents.
The settlement with the Dentons came less than three weeks before the case was to go to trial and while the city is making a renewed effort to forge a “global” solution to the widespread encroachment issue, having floated the viability of agreeing to sell most of the disputed encroached-upon properties to homeowners citywide. On July 9, the city council discussed just such an approach.
In 2010, the city had undertaken to inform encroaching property owners about the issue. The Dentons were among those so informed and that effort triggered the pending lawsuit.  The city’s approach in resolving the issue at that time was hampered by the suggestion that encroaching property owners would be “fined” as a consequence of their occupation of property to which they did not have title.  A far more comprehensive notification effort was made this summer, with the owners of 238 properties identified as encroaching onto city-owned open space having been given notices to that effect. Those notices, sent from the city’s code enforcement division, went out to the offending property owners on July 31. Those notices informed the residents of the city’s contemplated open space sales program.
A major issue is the price residents would be willing to pay and the amount the city is willing to accept for the property in question.
According to a city staff report, there is interest on the part of some of the encroaching residents to cure the dispute, including making those land purchases. Others told by the city that they have encroached on city property have taken the position that they are not occupying public open space at all. Some of the homeowners receiving notices were unaware of the issue. Others had been previously notified. Still others who had not been previously notified were cognizant that the issue existed but have been noncommittal in their response.
Tentatively, the city has indicated it envisions being paid $6 to $17 per square foot to relinquish title to the encroached upon open space.
In the case of the Dentons, they paid $6.99 per square foot to obtain title to the property, not including escrow and document fees.
Of those the city maintains have encroached, some simply inherited the encroachment from previous owners. In some cases, the encroachments preexisted the city’s incorporation in 1991. In some cases, the owners themselves expanded their property lines or put in landscaping onto property the city claims is public open space.
The city has indicated it does not want to assess blame or fault with regard to the encroachments but wants simply to move ahead with solving the issue by means of a formalized sale of the encroached-upon property in question to those willing to make the purchases.
City council members expressed confidence that the agreement with the Dentons will provide a model for negotiated settlements with most, if not all, of the other 237 homeowners deemed to be occupying city-owned open space. Over the last two-and-a-half years, the city accrued legal bills of $263,000 in response to the Dentons’ suit.
A decade ago, Chino Hills had a surplus open space sales policy, but ended that program in 2005.