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Council set to  decide on islands

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Council set to decide on islands

Posted on 16 August 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The sounds of traffic are barely heard behind the wall that surrounds Scott Wilson’s back yard along Macy Street. Wilson and his wife Amy, sit on comfortable patio furniture and enjoy the shade of their back yard. The long-time resident of

Map courtesy OC LAFCO
The map shows the locations of the six remaining county islands within La Habra. The City Council will discuss annexation of these areas at its meeting in September.

what is classified as the Macy/Randall Island is one of the residents of the county territories that has voiced concern over the proposed annexation of the county property by the City of La Habra.
The La Habra City Council is set to make a decision on the proposed annexation of the six remaining county islands that fall within the city’s borders this September. The move to annex the territories was brought up by the city council on May 1, but faced quite a bit of outcry at the meeting from some residents of the islands.
At its heart, according to Wilson, is the argument as to why annex homeowners who don’t want to be annexed. Why not leave well enough alone?
Wilson and Bob Hatcher, another resident of the island territory designated as Macy/Randall, expressed the concerns of many residents in the islands of the increased costs to homeowners associated with a “forced” annexation.
Many of the 1,267 residents of the county islands are concerned with an increase in sales tax, trash rates, utility bills, taxes, business license fees, and the addition of overnight parking permit fees. Further, many county residents are on septic tank systems, and are concerned with having to be required to change and then pay to be connected to the city sewer system.
However, according to La Habra City Manager Jim Sadro, costs will be minimal to the residents. Taxes and utility rate increases are nominal and the timeframe for switching from septic to sewer will be up to the residents.
Regarding the increased expense for the city to take on the 1,267 residents, Sadro said that the estimated $7.2 million will not be all at once. The installation of sidewalks and street lights will come over a period of time and will be up to the residents on those streets.
Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who represents La Habra, said that it is a matter of “good government and management” that La Habra annex the islands.
The Citrus/Entrada and Cypress/Terry islands are the smallest areas and have a combined total of 11 homes. Nelson raised the question of how efficient it is for residents on the extreme northern border of Orange County to be serviced by Santa Ana, when they can be serviced more effectively by the city of La Habra. “What do they have against being a part of La Habra? It’s a great city,” he said.
For Wilson and other residents, it’s not that they have anything against La Habra, but rather enjoy their “island life.”
While some residents of the islands enjoy the separated lifestyle, others weren’t aware that it wasn’t part of La Habra, since they have a La Habra mailing address.
Street addresses are another concern for the residents in the islands. The numbers are out of sync with the city’s address system. Changing addresses can cost homeowners an expense, depending on how much they have connected to the address. Home-based business operators would have an additional increased expense with the change.
The numbering system for the city is to better provide police and fire services. However, La Habra Police Chief Jerry Price said that with increased technology, such as GPS, they will have no trouble finding a location when needed.
Sadro added that there might not be a need to change the address numbers right away, if at all. It is something the city needs to look into.
Wilson and other residents are concerned about the vague references to what they “might not have to do” or what might be “grandfathered” in that they have received from the city. “They haven’t put anything in writing,” Wilson said.
Along with the “grandfathering” uncertainty, many homeowners of the islands expressed further concerns over switching from county to La Habra building codes. What has existed for years under county ordinances could now be out of compliance under La Habra ordinances.
Many residents of the islands have expressed their lack of trust in what city officials have stated and said they prefer to see things in writing. In the May 1 council meeting that lasted nearly three hours primarily to accommodate as many resident comments as possible. Hatcher said that he felt that the residents of the Macy/Randall island were not given enough notification.
Councilman Michael Blazey called for a website to be set up to provide residents more detailed information on annexation and what will happen. The city staff agreed, but to date the site has not been established.
The push for annexation this year is fueled by the City of La Habra wanting to increase water flow and pressure north of Whittier Boulevard. However, five of the islands are located in that area and have been serviced by Cal Domestic Water.
Cal Domestic is changing its organization and it is becoming a water wholesaler. This would move those islands into La Habra’s water district. With this happening Orange County Supervisors and the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission, which represents the state in discouraging urban sprawl and encouraging orderly and efficient provision of municipal services, encouraged La Habra to annex the islands.
However, LAFCO and Orange County officials said that the sixth and final island of Macy/Randall and its 305 parcels will have to be included in the annexation.
Annexation of county islands in La Habra has come up over the years. In the past island residents have been given a vote to approve or reject annexation. Some islands in La Habra have approved annexation in the past. It is just down to the remaining six islands within the city.
However, since 2004, California changed the law regarding annexation. It allows for annexation of unincorporated areas of up to 150 acres to be annexed with the local agency formation commission’s approval. The remaining islands total just under 131 acres.
Caroline Emery, Executive Officer with the Orange County LAFCO, informed city officials that both LAFCO and the State Board of Equalization are waiving all of the normal annexation fees required for the City.
With all other requirements in place, the last remaining step before annexation of the islands is the approval of the La Habra City Council.
Wilson and a group of other residents hope that they decide to just let them be.

 

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Lowell terminates lease in order to move forward

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Lowell terminates lease in order to move forward

Posted on 16 August 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

Jay Seidel/La Habra Journal Maybrook campus: The Lowell Joint School District is working on plans to find a new school to provide education at its Maybrook campus.

The Lowell Joint School District was forced to take drastic action in an effort to help students at a local Christian school. The district submitted a legal order to terminate its lease agreement with Whittier Christian Elementary School’s Maybrook campus, which is owned by the Lowell District.
The emotional move to end the 23-year-old agreement with Calvary Baptist Church, which operates the Whittier Christian School, was due to questionable practices and breaches of the lease by a school management company, Carnegie Schools, that was brought in to help run the schools.
Dr. John Ploog, pastor and head of schools for Calvary Baptist, explained Monday at the district meeting that the operation of the schools, the campus at Maybrook and the church’s main campus in Whittier, were becoming more challenging financially for the church. They were looking at various options, and that’s when he said Carnegie approached them.
Ploog explained that Carnegie said they wanted to help Christian schools maintain and operate successfully. The offer was the help that Ploog felt they were looking for. So, last year, Carnegie took operational control of the Whittier Christian Schools.
Since then, according to Terry Tao, attorney for Lowell Joint School District, several breaches of the lease agreement and questionable practices prompted them to terminate the lease agreement.
Tao explained that the arrangement Calvary Baptist entered in with Carnegie violated the terms of the original lease because it doesn’t allow for subleasing. Further, according to Tao, Carnegie’s plan to expand the Maybrook campus to include seventh and eighth grade students was in violation of the preschool-6 grade only agreement.
Also, Carnegie’s business operations caused concern for the Lowell District landlords. Carnegie fell behind on its rental payments to the district.
Darin Barber, board president of the Lowell Joint School District, explained that in order to remove Carnegie, the district must terminate the lease with Calvary Baptist.
Tao echoed this sentiment, explaining that the original contract was between Lowell and Calvary Baptist and that lease had to be terminated before anything else could occur. The school board approved termination of the lease on July 31. The notice of termination letter was sent to Calvary Baptist on August 1.
Ploog and the church leaders had been in communication with the district, as these issues were becoming apparent. He explained they understood the violations, including their arrangement with Carnegie, and agreed that the lease should be terminated.
The church informed Carnegie on August 2, about the termination of the lease. In an August 4th letter to Calvary Baptist, Carnegie stated that it sees the Lowell District as a “third party” and will not allow a third party to “run a school at the Maybrook campus.” Further, they took a defiant stance stating Carnegie “intends to remain at the Maybrook campus for the foreseeable future.”
According to the terms of the termination letter, the district was to have its property turned back over to them by 5 p.m. Monday.
According to Ploog, Barber and Tao, some main concerns are about the students and the families who have paid tuition.
Tao explained that he requested enrollment information, including paid tuition, from Carnegie, but said he didn’t think he was going to get it.
Lowell Board member Staci Shackelford had to pause to hold back some emotion as she shared her children went to Whittier Christian Schools and credits their educational success to what they learned at the school.
“This whole situation is so hard,” she said thinking about how the children and families could be impacted by proceedings.
Claud Lamar, president and CEO of Heights Christian Schools, said that they would like to come in and operate a Christian school at the Maybrook campus to help ensure the approximately 288 students will continue with their education. He said that they are willing to waive registration fees and credit those who have paid tuition in an effort to get things set up this year. He encouraged parents to call the Heights Christian office. Heights Christian schools start on August 29 and they would hope to start classes at Maybrook then as well.
Lowell District Superintendent Jim Coombs said he was grateful to see Heights step in and want to operate a school on the campus. However, he explained that they are open to entertain any proposal.
However, the timeframe is short. Carnegie had classes set to begin August 24.
According to Tao, the district will now take steps to regain its property, the Maybrook campus, and move forward. He said they are working to minimize the disruption for the students, parents and staff for the coming school year.

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Families come out to enjoy National Night Out

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Families come out to enjoy National Night Out

Posted on 02 August 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Alondra Uziar
La Habra Journal

On the first Tuesday of August, La Habra joined the rest of the United States for National Night Out.
Though the event was set to start at 5:30 p.m., the community of La Habra was ready to meet and hang out with the La Habra Police Department much earlier.
Families gathered in Portola Park by the Children’s Museum at La Habra for K9, Swat and fire department displays, information on how to prevent crime, games and activities, free dinner, a Polynesian performance and to cap it all off, a movie in the park with Disney’s “Moana” as the featured film.
There were plenty of activities for the community to enjoy such as meeting the three police dogs, Emerson, Rita and Bobby, a craft table, a small tennis court courtesy of iTennis La Habra, a free farmers market provided by Our Lady Guadalupe Church and the La Habra Collaborative, and a dunk tank.
The Children’s Museum was also open past its usual hours and free to the public.

Grill masters: Officer Time Shay, Sgt. Jose Quirarte and Chaplain Chris Fowler grill food for the annual National Night Out event at Portola Park Tuesday evening.

According to national organizers, the goal of National Night Out is as an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.
Attendance has doubled as compared to last year, according to Sgt. Daniel Barnes. He has cooperated with assistant recreation manager Katie Elmore to help bring the event to the community. Though they prepared for approximately 800 individuals, Barnes finds that the craft table, the police dogs and the motorbikes are the biggest draw in.
“So I worked alongside the team and specifically K

Dog Days: Children were able to meet the police dogs like Emerson at the National Night Out event.

atie Elmore from community services,” Barnes said. “Her and I have been working together to put this whole event together, connecting with our different business in the community, several nonprofits that are in our community.”
Ultimately, Barnes only desires to create a better and stronger relationship with the community he loves and serves.
“I feel like when you have a personal connection with someone, there’s more of a

responsibility and it really strengthens the bonds and a relationship is built there,” Barnes said. “When you have a stronger relationship, you become a little more projected in your goal and obviously our goal as a community, as a police department in the city, is to make this city a safer place to live and just to have a great working relationship,”

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Water Guardians efforts lead to new bill

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Water Guardians efforts lead to new bill

Posted on 25 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Taylor Engle
La Habra Journal

Laws are normally initiated as bills by government officials. So, it is truly unique when a law is passed because of the hard work of four teenage girls from La Habra. But that’s exactly what happened.

The Water Guardians with Assemblyman Phillip Chen at Washington Middle School.

Assembly Bill AB 1343 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on July 21, and it encourages a water conservation collaboration between local K-12 schools and water suppliers.

Assemblyman Phillip Chen introduced the bill. It aims to reduce water usage in schools, storm water and dry weather runoff, school pollution, and educate students about water conservation.

However, Chen wasn’t the originator of the bill. The bill was first proposed to Chen by the “La Habra Water Guardians,” Four girls, Angelique Dequit, Jessica Gallegos, Fiona Paredes, and Skye Lim.

The group of ambitious young teens raised enough money through a school dance and by the help of sponsors to travel to the state Capitol and propose the bill.

The group created a conservation plan as a school project at Washington Middle School in 2015, which won statewide praise and national recognition.

The girls are currently attending Sonora High School, but are still committed to their environmental efforts and are excited to see the water saving measures being implemented statewide.

“AB 1343 helps make water conservation an important part of our education,” Dequit said.

The project allowed for drought-tolerant gardens at the school location. The group also replaced old toilets with more conservative, newer models.

“Water is vital to California. From the water we use to drink, shower, grow our crops, to water used to generate electricity at our dams, our future success is dependent on it. Many cities and utilities are providing rebates for residents that install drought-tolerant plants or water efficient fixtures like toilets and washing machines,” Chen said.

Chen’s office had to work a lot with the Assembly’s Education Committee to ensure the language of the bill was approved of. The bill had to go through Assembly Education, Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxics Material Committee the Senate Education and Senate Environmental Quality Committees before it could be passed.

Through meeting with water districts to help foster their relationships with school districts, Chen learned about a lot of incentive programs that aren’t being utilized enough by the schools.

“We need to make sure that the community and the school districts are educated on water conservation and the programs that are available,” Chen said.

Although there is still much more to be done to help with the state’s drought, this bill is a good beginning to a more conscious future when it comes to water conservation.

“I think that this bill is a great start in helping get the conversation going with school districts and water districts,” Chen said. “I do believe that this bill is just a start and there is more that can be done on water conservation efforts and I look forward to working on this issue in the future.”

When asked whether or not a water conservation bill would have been considered without the help of the Guardians, Chen responded, “Water conservation is an important topic that definitely needs to be addressed, I am glad that the Water Guardians brought their idea to my attention so I could help them achieve their goal.”

“We want to create a future for our community and state where we have a plentiful water supply and all citizens are better prepared with water conservation skills for life,” Lim said.

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West Nile risk high in La Habra

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West Nile risk high in La Habra

Posted on 19 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The third mosquito that tested positive for West Nile Virus was discovered in La Habra last week
Orange County Vector Control noted the mosquitoes were collected from La Bonita Park.
The previous mosquitoes were discovered last month in the same park.
Vector Control routinely monitors populations of adult mosquitoes and test groups of adult female mosquitoes for the presence of WNV and other mosquito-borne viruses.
The San Gabriel Valley Vector Control urges La Habra Heights residents to do the same. While none have been discovered in the Heights, there is still a need for precaution, said Jason Farned, Public Information Officer for the SGV Vector Control.
WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are WNV carriers (“vectors”) that become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.
Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms.
Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will display symptoms which can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms generally last for just a few days.
Less than one percent of individuals infected with WNV will develop severe illness or possibly death.
A person can reduce their risk of WNV infection by:

  • Stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use repellent containing the active ingredients DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.
  • Dump or drain standing water
  • Repair broken or torn screens on windows and doors.

For more information and updates contact: www.ocvector.org

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Heights seeks assessment to pay for roads

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Heights seeks assessment to pay for roads

Posted on 19 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The residents of La Habra Heights will be asked to vote on a benefit assessment district in November in an effort to help repair the roads within the city.
Supporting council members of the 3-2 vote at last Thursday’s council meeting said that they felt that the results released from a commissioned study indicates that a benefit assessment district is the best way to go.

Rough Road: The La Habra Heights City Council approved Thursday a benefit assessment to fund road repair to be on the November ballot.

“After looking at the results of the road funding survey, hearing from the professional consultants, and our citizen Roads Committee, it is my opinion that the residents will be most comfortable with the Benefit Assessment District approach for funding,” said Councilman Michael Higgins who voted for the assessment.
Councilmen Brian Bergmen and Kyle Miller also voted for the assessment, which will cost residents about $170 annually on their property tax bill.
Higgins added that based on the facts presented by the committee and the study, he believed the residents would be most comfortable with the Benefit Assessment District approach for funding. “Of all the choices the assessment option is the most familiar to the community,” he said.
The survey was conducted by Godbe Research, who were hired by the council as a consultation firm, and found that approximately two-thirds of voters supported assessment district while only less than half supported the utility users tax.
The utility tax, which was recommended by the Roads Committee, would have been a 3.5 percent utility users tax, which would cost residents approximately $20 per month
Mayor Jane Williams joined Francis in preferring the utility tax.
Roads Committee Chairman Dennis Laherty explained that he and the committee, can support either option, as long as the priority remains on road repair.
If approved by the voters in Novermber, the funding program will last 10 years with the goal to obtain a 75 PCI (pavement condition index) on the city’s roads. The index, which is between 0 and 100, is used by transportation civil engineering to indicate the general condition of pavement.
Higgins added that all of the fund will go to the roads, and that any and all contract and monies will be audited by the citizen roads committee.

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Tennis showcased in LH with new training company

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Tennis showcased in LH with new training company

Posted on 19 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Alondra Urizar
La Habra Journal

Tennis players and residents alike were pleased to see the new renovations iTennis has made for the local tennis courts. So much so that they came in droves just to check out the brand new remodeled facility in La Habra at the official opening Saturday.

Emily Jett/La Habra Journal
A quick return: People from all over played tennis and enjoyed the grand opening of the new iTennis La Habra next to Portola Park on Euclid Avenue. The new managers of the former La Habra Tennis Center recently remodeled it to make it community friendly and a place for them to share their passion for tennis. The new courts, clubhouse and pro shop provide a great deal for those interested in the sport.

What was previously the La Habra Tennis Center is now iTennis La Habra with a newly remodeled clubhouse, a tennis pro shop, 12 full-size night-lit courts and two children sized courts.
People of all ages and skill levels were invited to attend the opening ceremony with free on court clinics. They held a raffle with an ultimate prize of a signed tennis racket and games with free tennis gear giveaways. A live band played in the background and the group gave food and refreshments such as pizza, water and cookies to ensure the community could still beat the heat.
The ownership group, iTennis Inc. began in Pasadena by former Stanford All-American and Wimbledon competitor John Letts on only one court back in 1998.
Today, they have expanded to Pasadena and South Pasadena, Arcadia, El Monte, Riverside, West Hollywood and now, La Habra.
“We are a company of tennis lovers, and the last thing we want to see is a nice venue like this, change use, go unused or be empty, so we are going to do our very best to make this be a huge community asset,” Letts said.
The company, iTennis made a bid at an auction for the site and, according to the owners, were pleased to have won. Co-owner Selwyn Brereton then began six-weeks of hard renovations beginning in early June.
The clubhouse was completely remodeled.
“We try to make it look like a living room where you want to come home from work and sit and relax. They can watch their matches, talk to their friends,” Brereton said.
He added that they installed air conditioning, something the clubhouse never had.
Letts and Brereton introduced themselves and shared how excited they were to service the community, hoping to produce many pro tennis players from La Habra in the future.
The former tennis center was beat up, not well cared for and run down, according to several residents and the iTennis staff.

Hundreds of people came out Saturday to attend the grand opening of iTennis La Habra as the new management company of the La Habra Tennis Center. People were able to play and practice their tennis skills.

La Habra Heights resident Jessie Hernandez used to use the courts before iTennis arrived and testified the courts were in bad shape
“It’s a big improvement. It’s like day and night. It looks nothing like it did before. Before, it just looked empty, run down and not taken care of. But now you can see that even just the lobby,” Hernandez said. “It’s very clean, more modern, more activity. You see a lot more people. It looks like they transformed it overnight.”
Hernandez has played tennis ever since he was in high school and now enjoys playing with his wife, two daughters and is excited to introduce the sport to his youngest son when he grows a little older.
The center will provide free United States Tennis Association membership for kids 10 years old and under, group or private lessons for people of all ages and abilities as well as courts for public use so long as the courts are available.
Membership with iTennis also include court reservations, clinic and merchandise discounts and invitations to club activities and events.
“We want people who have never tried the game to come out and try out [tennis] for the first time, and this event is geared to anybody… of all levels. Tennis is a great family sport,” said Letts.

————————————————————-

 Emily Jett contributed to this article

 

iTennis La Habra
351 S. Euclid St.
La Habra, CA

info@itennislahabra.com
(562) 690-5040

www.itennislahabra.com

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Sonora alum seeks to highlight human spirit in award-winning film

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Sonora alum seeks to highlight human spirit in award-winning film

Posted on 19 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The actress sat by the window on the set and looked out, just as she was supposed to do. Everything was set to shoot the first scene. The director shouted his commands and then said the magic line, “Action.” That’s when the actress, Gitane Neil, stopped, looked at the director and said to him in a serious “Cory, come here.” The director, Cory Reeder, got up and went to the young actress. She looked at him and asked, “can I have a hug?”
The two hugged and the actress smiled and said, “I’m ready.” Reeder went back to his chair and shooting of the film “Best Friend” began.

Filmmaker and Sonora alumni Cory Reeder (center) directs actress Gitane Neil (right) while producing the short film “Best Friend,”which won the Best Film award for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.

Reeder, a filmmaker and Sonora High School graduate, and his crew shot “Best Friend” in one day as part of the 2017 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. The short film, which chronicles the light-hearted story of a family relocating from New York to Los Angeles and the concerns of a young girl with Down Syndrome to find a friend.
This marked the fourth year Reeder entered the contest, but the first year that he swept the awards by netting Best Film and Best Awareness Campaign.
While he enjoyed winning the top award, Reeder acknowledged that it was something else that motivated him to make the film.
“Currency of the heart,” he said. “There were just moments like that hug, that the audience doesn’t get to see that makes it worth it. “
Reeder has been making films since before he started attending Sonora. He explained that his interest in film was fueled by his father.
“My parents divorced when I was young,” he explained. “When my dad would come visit, we would always see a movie, sometimes two or three a weekend. It was a bonding time.”
That bonding time fueled Reeder’s creative nature. He already had a passion for music and in particular the drums, but film was something different. It was art, it was storytelling, it was an escape.

Sonora alum and filmmaker Cory Reeder

Reeder had to deal with challenges early on. His mother battled cancer. Then when he was finishing junior high his older sister was killed, which sent his family into a depression. His mother’s cancer came back, this time she wasn’t able to fight it off.
Reeder, a Sonora swimmer and water polo player at this time, hit, what he called a rough time. He credits some of his teachers at Sonora as helping out.
“My coach, Jack Hawkins, was pretty in tune with what was going on and helped me,” he said. “He kept an eye out.”
He also credits his art teacher, Doug Stanton, as a guy that helped him through the loss of his mother and sister. Reeder explained he was always into drawing, but Stanton showed him his collection of VHS tapes.
“He told me if you’re ever having a bad day, you can come here and watch movies,” Reeder explained. He said Stanton was the first to show him the “non-blockbuster” films.
“He had me watch this movie ‘Eraserhead’ and wanted me to write a report on it,” he said. “I watched it three or four times to find a point and I finally realized there wasn’t a point…it was avant garde and could provoke thought.”
It was then Reeder said he realized the art of films.
He went to Fullerton College then Cal State Fullerton where he studied film and also continued to pursue his other passion of music by playing in local bands.
He started shooting short films in and around La Habra and music videos of his friends. But he scored big when he got a gig working for Ridley Scott’s production company.
Reeder went on to create his own film company, Renaissance Man Productions. He was also playing in a band, which was a house band at The Roxy in Hollywood.
He explained that he finally committed fully to filmmaking when he was hired to shoot a music video and he destroyed his drums as part of the video.
Reeder got connected to the Disability Film Challenge when he had to cast a little person in a film he was doing. The actor, Nic Novicki, was working to develop the challenge. Reeder said once he started shooting, he was hooked.
Reeder said he tries to do what he can to hire skilled individuals with disabilities. He also looks to hire women and said he loves to have them work in roles that have traditionally been for men in Hollywood.
Reeder said the film challenge is just part of his production process now. He will continue working with the challenge and being somewhat of an advocate to help Hollywood to become more inclusive.
He’s looking to make Best Friend into a feature length film and continuing writing and making more films.
For Reeder, the 50 hugs a day from Neil during production, makes everything he does worth it.

Watch the award winning “Best Friend” short film by clicking  HERE

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Residents fill parking lot to hear The Answer

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Residents fill parking lot to hear The Answer

Posted on 17 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Naomi Osuna
La Habra Journal

Families and friends gathered together in the parking lot at the La Habra Marketplace July 13 to enjoy The Answer as they performed their rock and classic oldies.
Melissa Rivera, recreation specialist with the city of La Habra said that this is the first concert here this season and that they work closely with the La Habra Marketplace.
“It’s a way for people to come out and shop in La Habra and eat at one of the great eateries around here,” said Rivera.
She further added that it’s great to have a night in La Habra like this.
“It brings the community together, it brings families together, it promotes a pride in the community,” she said. “I’m happy that a lot of people came out from the community to have a fun time tonight”.
People filled the parking lot outside of the LA Fitness on Imperial Highway. Many sang along with and danced to the classic rock hits
Marissa Leon, a La Habra native, was enjoying the music.
“It’s a great event to come out and bring your family to and listen to some music,” she said.
She added that she would recommend this event for anyone who wants to have a good time with their family and stay local.
“The Summer Concerts bring the community together with some great local food”.
She added that she likes the parking lot location.
“I love it, I feel like you are able to have your pick of different restaurants and food that you can just walk to, it’s really convenient,” she said.
The Summer Concert Series is a free family event Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. The event also includes raffles, a Kids Zone with coloring, activities, an art walk booth, and more.
The next concert in the series is July 20, “DSB: Journey Tribute Band” will also be held at the La Habra Marketplace but will then change locations to Portola Park on July 27 with “‘Let’s Move’ Concert Soto: Oldies, Pop, R & B”.

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LH sets balanced budget, warning

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LH sets balanced budget, warning

Posted on 05 July 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The La Habra City Council approved the annual general fund budget of just under $42.3 million at its June 19 meeting.
The balanced budget is 3.5 percent, or $1,432,833 more than last year’s budget and reflects a slight increase in revenue from property tax and a consistent sales tax.
The increased budget covers an increased fire contract costs, revenue funded labor costs, increased ambulance contract services costs; and the new body-worn camera equipment and annual maintenance costs for the La Habra Police Department.
While balanced, the city staff warned the council on some financial challenges that are on the way. The popularity of online shopping can have an increasing negative impact on sales tax revenue as the tax is assessed at the location of the distribution center.
Mark Sturdevant, president of the La Habra Area Chamber of Commerce said that’s where programs like Shop La Habra comes in to help in encouraging consumers to shop at La Habra retailers.
City staff warned of something even larger that will negatively impact the city’s budget. It’s based on the changes to the state pension program known as CalPERS. The state pension program revised its policies regarding the amortization of unfunded pension liabilities, which transfers the greater burden of funding to the cities.
City staff reported that it is anticipating that the city’s pension obligation costs will continue to increase each year for at least the next decade, growing from approximately $5.5 million per year 2016-17 to almost $13.9 million per year by FY 2026-27. This represents a 153 percent increase.

The city prepared somewhat for something like this. Several years ago the council authorized the negotiation of a lower pension formula for newly hired employees, as well as having city employees pay either seven or nine percent towards their own pension costs, depending on the plan they were in.
However, according to Mel Shannon, La Habra’s director of finance, that adjustment is not enough to cover the pending increased pension costs on the city budget.
In an effort to begin addressing these growing costs, the council has designated $500,000 of unappropriated funds to a Pension Rate Stabilization Fund, with the intent on setting aside available resources to address future pension cost increase.
Shannon said the city’s goal to maintain a prudent and fiscally responsible budget in future fiscal years will be challenging, but not impossible.
He noted that new residential and commercial infill projects have the potential to revitalize areas of the city and spur additional growth and investments. This will help increase tax revenue.
Shannon shared some of the more notable goals that are already factored into the budget. They include:

  • Completion of the major residential, commercial and development projects under construction,
  • Continued maintenance of the city’s streets, sidewalks, medians, parks, water, storm drains, and sewer infrastructure;
  • Beginning and completion of the Lambert Road Improvement Project;
  • The final landfill cover and complete designs for park and recreational uses at Vista Grande Park;
  • Completion of the La Habra Bikeway Master Plan;
  • Continuation of the city’s Water Main, Sewer Lining and Manhole Replacement Program.

All council members acknowledged the staff’s work to prepare a balanced budget without making any large cuts to city services. However, they stressed to the city staff that they should start planning for the fiscal impact in coming years.

 

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