Archive | Commentary

LH needs a plan for future businesses

Posted on 21 November 2013 by La Habra Journal

If you have a chance, you should head to the La Habra Historical Museum and take a look at the current exhibit on the businesses of La Habra.  There are artifacts from former iconic places like Trapper’s Inn and Burch Ford as well as historic photos that show La Habra streets lined with businesses that are no longer there.
While it’s good to reminisce about all the great times and great businesses that have been in the city, it’s also a little disheartening. As you drive through La Habra you can see a number of closed businesses, empty buildings and vacant lots. Times have indeed changed.
If you drive down Imperial Highway you might not see what I’m talking about.  Yes, there are some spots like the old Contractor’s Warehouse property and the lot that used to be home to the gentleman’s club that was closed and leveled. But there is a great deal of growth at the southern entry points to the city including the Imperial Promenade to the west and the new CVS to the east. However, as you move north, things change.
Empty buildings and lots dot the landscape along Harbor Boulevard.  Former gas stations, Burch Ford, the former Big Lots are some examples of the need for new development. Try to drive north on Harbor any day from 3-6 p.m. and you’ll find it packed with commuters cutting over the hill to get to the 60 Freeway.  What an impression they must have of La Habra as they see the shuttered properties. (Fullerton doesn’t help by letting the old Beckman property stay undeveloped and having Albertsons leave.)
Drive down Whittier Boulevard and you’ll see a similar empty landscape. From the empty lot that used to be Graham’s Chevron to the old Hughes Market shopping center and the land that used to be home to Big Deal Car Wash.
The city is ripe for greater economic development. Both Whittier and Harbor Boulevards are high traffic points for the city and with the right type of businesses will allow for more people to stop and shop in our community.
As I said, the right type of business is needed. Commercial developers and city officials in our community need to take heed and encourage new businesses to come to our city.  We don’t need another discount store or a second or third version of a current business. We need businesses that are unique.  Maybe businesses that La Habra residents currently travel to other cities to visit (like a Trader Joes).  Let’s look to attract new stores and businesses and develop some of these empty or abandoned properties.
The city, the Chamber of Commerce and the commercial real estate and developers should work together to develop a strategy on helping grow La Habra’s economic development through greater incentives for these businesses.  They also should work with the current businesses to see how they might be able to grow or remodel.
Current residents and visitors should see a thriving La Habra and not fenced up properties with “For Lease” signs.
Otherwise, when residents visit the La Habra Museum’s exhibit on the history of local businesses in 50 years, they will see more photos of empty lots and empty buildings.

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Did You Know….LH’s Ostrich Farm

Posted on 09 October 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Sue Thompson
La Habra Journal

An ostrich farm existed in La Habra from 1904 to 1909.  Englishman Edward Cawston began the farm on what is now north Citrus Drive north of Whittier Boulevard.  Originally, his farm was in Pasadena but the cost of shipping the birds from South Africa to Pasadena was expensive and many of the birds perished during shipment.  He began to look for land farther south to begin a breeding farm and found that La Habra met the needs. An ostrich farm required rich soil for nutrients for the birds, the availability of water, access to the metropolitan areas and be cost effective to purchase the land. He purchased 80 acres and leased an additional adjoining 140 acres from W.J. Hole.
Ostrich plumes were highly fashionable at the time for adorning women’s bonnets and gowns. The La Habra farm had approximately 300 ostriches.  The process of plucking the ostriches was done every nine months. Under each wing of the bird were about twenty white feathers approximately twenty inches long. Also on the wing were rows of short black or grey feathers. Each bird’s feathers could be sold for up to forty dollars per year.  The feathers were used to make plumes and beautiful adornments.
Male ostriches could reach a height of six to eight feet and weighed as much as 400 pounds. Ostriches can live up to the age of seventy years old. Adult ostriches were valued between $200 and $300 and eggs could cost up to twenty five dollars each.  Considering their size, they ran as fast as a horse and could severely injure a person with just one kick.
They roamed freely on the La Habra farm which had a barn, corrals and breeding pens.  Many bluegum, cypress, pine and walnut trees were planted to provide shade.  Their main food was alfalfa which was grown on the property.  At the time, bobcats and mountain lions also lived in the hills and the ostriches had to be protected from these predators.
The farm was quite an attraction for the early La Habra residents, who enjoyed a trip to the ostrich farm to watch and sometimes feed the animals.
When the popularity of ostrich plumes and adornments began to decrease, farms were moved to cheaper land areas to reduce expenses. It is believed that the La Habra ostriches were moved to another farm that Cawston purchased in the Perris/ San Jacinto area.  The property was eventually sold to the Chaffeys who subdivided the acreage and sold the parcels.
Just another interesting piece of the history about where we live, work and enjoy being a part of the La Habra community.
Source:  La Habra: The Pass Through the Hills, by Esther R. Cramer, Sultana Press, Fullerton, 1969.

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The pursuit of higher education for all

Posted on 09 October 2013 by La Habra Journal

College. The word brings a variety of different thoughts  to people. Some think of experiences and stories of the time they went. Some focus on the rising costs.  Others think about the amount of schoolwork that it entails, and some others think of it as one of those things that people go to and it might be good to take some classes.
When I was young and growing up in La Habra, it was a thing to possibly strive for, but wasn’t the end all be all.  My mom worked hard and long hours, so the need to provide for yourself and your family was indirectly emphasized.  That is the case in many families in our community.  The need to make a living

sometimes outweighs the need for higher education. Plus, as tuition costs continue to rise, college seems further and further away for some. As an instructor at Fullerton College, I see this.
I have seen a lot of talented young men and women who have so much potential have to stop attending school because they need to make a living.  I see others who come to school but struggle because it’s not “clicking” and they struggle with the general education classes that they have to take but are not interested in.  They usually don’t have much support from home for college due to working families or the fact that college is seen as less essential.
I even know a student who was hiding the fact that he was going to college to some of his family members because it was seen as less of a priority than working.
That’s why I am so encouraged when I see events like “La Habra Goes to College.”  Groups like Advance! And Rosie’s Garage in our community provide such a benefit to those who want to go to school.  They provide resources and opportunities for some who might not have had them.  They help those who might have given up or taken college off of their to-do lists because it wasn’t a priority or wasn’t seen as something they could do.
Studies have shown the increase in potential earnings when people obtain a degree, even if it is an associate degree or professional certificate from a community college.
Going to college and pursuing a higher education, whether its to become a bio-physicist or a machinist should be something that is encouraged and supported in our community and families.  It is a sad thing when there is so much potential that goes unreached and there are so many missed opportunities. We need to continue to do more to help people achieve their potential and thus help their lives and their community.

—The Editor

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Our community: Sweet home La Habra

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

I experienced something interesting.  I recently ran into someone that went to La Habra High school with me.  We were (and are) friends, and we had chatted a few times in college. We also saw each other at one of the class reunions.  However, it had been a while since the last time we saw each other.
She lives out of the area and was commenting on La Habra.  The fact that it has changed so much.  I paused, thought about it and finally agreed with her that it has.  But she quickly followed up with the fact that it still feels like home.
La Habra really has that feel.  We sometimes forget or don’t see that. It took me to hear it from someone who hadn’t been in the community for a while. It has changed, but still remains like home.  The city itself changes and develops, but that “home-like” feel of the La Habra community is what makes many residents stay for multiple generations.  It is a welcoming, supportive and active community.  There are examples of this all around.
I was lucky enough to attend the ceremony by La Habra Pop Warner where they presented a bench at Estelli Park to memorialize the loss of Joseph Quezeda. He was taken from the community two years ago in an auto accident.  The members of the Quezada family were on hand for the memorial and I thought about how active the family has been, and continues to be, in the community.  I was touched by the outpouring of the Pop Warner family and so proud of our community to have made this memorial possible, and thought that something like this shows how supportive the community can  be, just like home.
The first Otoberfest is this weekend.  The event is put on by the Chamber of Commerce and is a way to showcase some of the tastes of La Habra and a way to celebrate the community. Events like this, the Citrus Fair, the Corn Festival, the parade, OLG’s La Fiesta are all “extras” that the city and community organizations do for the residents.   They don’t have to do it, but they do. They do it for the residents and by doing so, make the community become more welcoming; just like home.
Advance! on to College, an organization that for the last 10 years has been working very hard to help those young men and women in our community get a better chance of going to college.  Rosie’s Garage, which helps local students do better in school by providing them resources and assistance that they might not have had otherwise. These, among other groups, help our youth find success in academics and help create opportunities for a better future. These are some things that  help show that the community is dedicated to our children; another aspect that helps La Habra feel like home.
Living in the community and interacting with families like the Quezadas, being active in organizations like Pop Warner and taking part in the many activities, we tend to just take it for granted as that is what is supposed to happen. It sometimes takes input from friends and others from outside the community to remind us how lucky we are to be in such a caring community and call it home.
—The Editor

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Graduation brings reflection and change

Posted on 06 June 2013 by La Habra Journal

It’s that time of year again. The time when the community turns over and welcomes a new cycle of graduates. The local colleges and universities were first and now is the time for the three high schools. Among all the schools, that’s a few thousand people who are now turned lose to find jobs, plan and prepare for more school or just go out and enjoy life. Whatever lies in store, they are now here.

However, before they get there, the first stop for all graduates is the commencement ceremony. Each year I attend the commencement at Fullerton College (part of teaching), and I was recently at one of CSUF’s and Chapman’s commencement ceremonies. This year I attended Whittier Christian’s and will be spending my day at both La Habra and Sonora’s graduations. Attending so many of these ceremonies I have been able to give them a lot of thought. While they are all different and special for that moment, there are a number of common threads among them.

Now, trying to remember my own graduations in an effort to compare is somewhat pointless. I barely remember my La Habra High School graduation, except what I can recall when I am prompted by a photo someone posts on Facebook. I skipped my Fullerton College graduation ceremony (a choice I now regret). I can barely remember my undergraduate ceremony. That’s either due to the years that have passed or the tailgating that was done with my classmates before the ceremony (not something I would recommend or encourage). However. I do remember my graduate ceremony at CSUF. That was probably because my then pregnant wife and daughter were there and mine was the very first name called (not because of anything academic, I just ended up at the front of the line).

Whatever the reason, the memories are there but fading. From this, one common thing that I’ve realized, and something I try to impart on all graduates is to enjoy every moment of it! Soak it in like a sponge! The sights, the leis, the feeling of the cap and gown, the music, the long-winded often cliché speeches, the numbness in your legs from sitting so long, the screaming families, the posed photo, the moment your name is called, the emotions you are feeling, the joy of throwing your cap, the hugs and handshakes from friends and family, the feeling of relief and excitement that it is finally over. Allow yourself to relish in the feeling of accomplishment. No matter how cliché or how silly it might seem at the time, enjoy it. This is your moment and it won’t happen again.

For the families, enjoy it and enjoy it for your graduate. We all celebrate in our own ways, but from observing this as both a participant and an observer, the louder a family is, the ceremony becomes that much more enjoyable. Be proud of your graduates, whether they are a family member of friend. Know that this is a milestone for them and they need to enjoy it. Put up with the long winded speeches that you don’t pay full attention to and all of the other families cheering for their graduates.

Everyone should just enjoy the moment and try to make the memories of turning this important chapter in life last as long as possible.

Congrats to the Class of 2013!

—The Editor

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Take the time to remember the holiday

Posted on 23 May 2013 by La Habra Journal

It is that time of year again. Time to prepare for summer. Time to get ready for hot days, swimsuits, vacations, barbecues and baseball. Before any of that happens, it’s also time to take a moment to pay our respects and honor those who gave their lives in order to protect and defend our country. Memorial Day was set up for Americans to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

Before we focus our attention on summer, it’s time to take a moment to consider those who served and died. If you think about it, all generations of Americans have been touched by war. The United States was founded by a war of revolution against an oppressive European power. So it stands to reason that we should take the day to recognize these individuals.

If you have not been directly impacted by the sacrifice of a loved one in the military, you can feel free to connect with those in our community who over the years have died in combat. Their names are emblazoned on the plaque outside the library (see Did You Know column). Feel free to take a look and remember.

If you think back and consider all those who have died while answering the call of duty. After the Revolution, there was a second war with England. Then there was the war with Mexico, were many US military members died in an effort to gain the land for our country where you are currently reading this article. Then came the war with ourselves where many Americans died to help keep the country together and move toward human rights.

Then the short war with Spain and then the Philippines, that expanded our territories and asserted our strength among traditional European powers. There was World War I, or “The Great War,” where American involvement turned the tide and helped bring an end to the fighting. The American support and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation and the years of World War II, where had it not been for the sacrifice of American service men, the world would be a vastly different looking place today.

The conflict in Korea that helped stem the growth of Communism and where tensions still continue today. The struggles in Vietnam to help hold on to democracy against an enemy that was often invisible. American service men are still feeling the sacrifice. The visit to La Habra by The Wall that Heals (see story Page 1), will help continue with that recovery.

The skirmishes in Panama and Grenada where once again Soldiers, Sailors , Airman and Marines were put in harms way in duty to our country.

Then the Gulf War and the more recent Iraqi Freedom and operations in Afghanistan, where conflicts continue today and servicemen still risk their lives for the US.

No matter what your stance is on war (past, present or future), or your political views, Memorial Day is a time were we, Americans, take the time to acknowledge what other Americans did for us so that we may live in this great country.

It truly is a time to consider Winston Churchill’s words when he said “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”

Take the time this weekend before your vacations and thank those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom.

Have an enjoyable Memorial Day!

—The Editor

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Give a hoot…don’t put it out on the curb

Posted on 09 April 2013 by La Habra Journal

As you drive around neighborhoods of La Habra you will often find many homes that have nice landscaping or signs that the owner takes care of and maintains it well. It’s something that makes the job of the Beautification Committee that much more difficult. It’s something that as a community, we can all appreciate. We can respect the time and effort someone puts into maintaining their yard (whether the work is done by them or by a gardener).

However, in spite of the work done by the proud homeowners, there are things that take away from our community by creating a distraction or minimizing the efforts of these yard workers. The things are items left on the curb in hopes of others to take. In nearly every neighborhood, you’ll see items left on the curb. These items can detract from the look of the homes in the neighborhood and not to mention anger your neighbors.

Before some of you who are reading this get offended, I’m guilty of this too. Last year we put a desk out on the curb. It was gone within two hours. I get the concept of how beneficial the idea of passing it forward could be to most people. I believe that knowing that someone can benefit from something I don’t need…. and I only have to walk it to my curb, is very appealing. However, I knew it was a desk, and in fairly good condition, which increased the possibility of someone using it. While I had quick success, I probably won’t do it again. It’s for the simple fact that it was out there a while and my neighbors might not have appreciated it.

The concern really comes into play when the item left on the curb isn’t something that will be taken quickly. Mattresses and box springs left on the curb will not be that attractive for the neighbors and most likely not move that fast from the curb. In one neighborhood, I saw a toilet sitting on the curb, and it sat there for a few weeks. I’m not sure who might be driving through a neighborhood in search of a used mattress (that is damp from the dew) or a replacement porcelain throne, but they are out there. So, what do you do when you have extra material that you want to get rid of? You call Waste Management. Residents of La Habra can call four times a year for bulk pickup. When you notify them, you take your unwanted item out to your curb on regular trash pickup day and wa-la! The item or items are picked up.

Also, if it is an item with a great potential to be reused, then you might consider donating it to a local organization like The Family Resource Center.

There are many items that could benefit a resource group, and thus help the community. I’m sure that if it is a substantial size, they will find ways to pick it up. Also, there are Goodwill Centers nearby that can accept items.

If you think you can make a little money from it, then consider a yard sale. They can be a lot of work, but can allow you to earn money you didn’t have off of products you don’t really want.

I’m not saying don’t get rid of your items, but rather consider the many options you have to effectively dispose of them.
When you clean out your homes, and have items to part with, consider what you want to do with the items…trash it, donate it or sell it. All will limit the time that your items will be sitting in front of your homes. It will allow the hard work in the front yards by residents to be seen and appreciated. It will also help to keep you in good standing with your neighbors and help keep for a great community.
—The Editor

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Volunteers of the year

Posted on 24 February 2013 by La Habra Journal

Often organizations present a volunteer of the year award to outstanding individuals who give their time to help make something better. Looking around our community, there are hundreds of individuals giving their time and energy toward making something better. Now, not to seem cheesy or cliché when pointing out the efforts of volunteers, but we wouldn’t have a community without them.

Websters Dictionary defines volunteer as “a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service as one who renders a service or takes part in a transaction while having no legal concern or interest.”

So many people give of their time in all aspects of the community, from workers at church bake sales and Little League managers to PTA board members, city committee members and Girl Scout cookie organizers. It includes the family members who help out in an elementary school classroom all the way to city council members in La Habra Heights. It includes the members of the many service organizations in the community like Rotary, Elks, Moose and Lions.

Volunteers help with organizations like Advance, HBIC and Rosie’s Garage. They are the people who clean up, cut paper, organize, plan, oversee, mentor and guide and many other duties. They are of the community and give of themselves to help out. They do the jobs that need to get done, and often the jobs that most people don’t want to do. Even without experience, they are the ones who step up and commit to helping in whatever the task might be. They don’t do it for praise, they don’t do it for accolades, they don’t do it for money. They do it because they want to and that they believe in whatever the mission is. Volunteers are the unsung heroes of our community. They are what helps us grow as a community. These individuals deserve our thanks and appreciation. I only wish that there were more room to recognize them all in the pages of the Journal. I wish they could all be volunteers of the year.

This section of the La Habra Journal is set as a commentary. I have realized that I have been writing it more as an editorial. The editorial of a newspaper is the written view of the newspaper as a whole and therefore doesn’t have a byline of an individual who wrote it. This section of the Journal has always been a commentary. That means it reflects the views of the person writing it and therefore deserves a byline to say who wrote it. We will begin including the byline of the person who writes it. My hope is to allow for other members of the staff to express themselves in topics related and of interest to the community. The majority will still be written by me, but the opportunity to hear from the rest of the LHJ team is there. As always, I thank you for your time in reading this and for your support of the only independent community newspaper covering La Habra and La Habra Heights.
—The Editor

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This is a community of compassion and caring during a time of need

Posted on 24 December 2012 by La Habra Journal

When all is dark and when we are searching for answers, it is good to know that there are people out there that provide support and help. The horrific tragedy that took place in Connecticut on Friday left many with a feeling of loss and deep sorrow. It will take many of us a long time to come to terms with what happened at that elementary school. The irony is that this is the most joyous time of year where many are celebrating holidays and preparing for the new year. It is the time of year that we think about others rather than ourselves. So, it is benefiting that there is such an outpouring of support and love for those who have suffered.
It is the outpouring of love in our community that was witnessed this past weekend that has reinvigorated my love for La Habra. As you will see in this issue, the events that took place this past weekend show how much this community cares.

I personally was in awe at the hundreds of students that filled Sonora High School’s commons Saturday. They were there, not because they were supposed to for an assignment or to get extra credit for a class. They were there to give back to the community in a huge way.
The annual food drive, which is much more than food, allowed the students to provide food, blankets, toys and love to families in the community who are struggling this time of year. They spend three weeks working on this and the tireless effort put on by the students and the teachers are admirable.

Albertson’s in La Habra (on Whittier and Beach) stepped up and helped with discounts and more inventory.

The La Habra Host Lions and other community partners put on the second annual Operation Santa Toy Drive. The Classic Car show last week in the parking lot of the CVS Distribution Center brought in hundreds of toys and donations that the organizers were able to give out Saturday to children in the community. Rides, food, games and even a visit by Santa brought smiles and spread much needed holiday cheer to those who attended.

The city of La Habra Heights and the La Habra Heights Improvement Association brought a winter wonderland to the Park at Hacienda. The snow brought in allowed local children to see the snow and participate in a three-hour long snowball fight. The energy given off by the children’s laughter and happiness were so much that it could power our community for years to come.

In addition to these outreach programs, there are a number of efforts put on by the many churches throughout our community. There are the random acts by neighbors who cook food and leave it on the doorsteps of neighbors who might be in need this time of year.

These acts of kindness and love are examples for us to see just how great this community truly is. It bands together and cares about its members. It makes us feel proud of who we are and provides light in time of darkness.

At this time, we at the La Habra Journal are grateful to be able to provide the newspaper to this great community and are looking forward to all the wonderful things in 2013.

So, from the entire staff at the La Habra Journal, Happy Holidays and here is to a great new year!

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COMMENTARY: It’s November, It’s time to be thankful

Posted on 21 November 2012 by La Habra Journal

It’s November and time to give thanks. And it’s not just because of Thanksgiving. At the beginning of the month we celebrate Veterans Day and honor all those who have served.
Being a veteran and coming from a family of veterans, it is always nice to see the appreciation. It is especially moving to see the way the community comes out to support the veterans.

The annual Veterans Day ceremony put on by the city of La Habra was phenomenal and moving. The recognition of SFC William T. Brown, and the story conveyed by his sister in law Carolyn Brown about her family’s journey over the years up until his final homecoming in August, really helped solidify the meaning of the day and added a deeper sense of thanks for our Veterans.

On a personal note, I (usually I refrain from the first person in the commentary, but I will make an exception) can attest to the thankfulness and support from this community. When I returned from Desert Storm the community, on various levels, came out to show support of me and other residents who returned. I’ve included a photo below that shows of an example of that support. It was the welcome home party I was given at Don Steves Chevrolet. I was just the son of an employee, but they (and in particular Ms. Ellie Steves) gave me a celebration, welcoming me back. I am thankful for experiencing that sense of community back then.

Aside from veterans, there is another group in our community that we should be thankful for…the community’s first responders. We need to be thankful for the men and women that respond to the call of emergency. The 70 years that men and women have been volunteering to help protect the Heights from fires. Individuals who took it upon themselves to protect their homes and their neighbors’ homes, initially without pay, is something to be thankful for. The men and women who serve La Habra in the Los Angeles County Fire Authority also deserve our thanks. Not a day goes by that I don’t see the trucks or hear the sirens as they respond to an emergency.

Also, the men and women of the La Habra Police Department and the members of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department who patrol the Heights deserve our thanks. They provide a service that many of us don’t realize. They help keep us, and our property, safe without much fanfare.

Another group in our community to thank are the teachers in the various schools. As an educator myself I can appreciate the time and effort they put in every day. As a parent of young children, I am in awe of their patience and passion to teach despite having to deal with the volume of short attention spans.

A group that deserves thanks are the many volunteers who provide countless hours of service to community events like AYSO, Little League, Pop Warner, Softball, etc. There are so many that sacrifice their time to help make our community’s youth have an enjoyable time.

There are so many others in the community that we should be thankful for. However, there is one additional group that I am thankful for…it’s my family. They are my motivation and my inspiration. They keep me going when times are challenging and they are with me when times are great. They are partially the reason I am writing in this newspaper.

This leads me to the final group to be thankful for…it’s you. However cheesy that may sound, as you read this you are taking the time to use the LH Journal information. That is what I hoped for when taking over this publication. I am thankful for the opportunity to provide this information to you and I am thankful to be a part of this community.

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