Tag Archive | "City"

Highlanders blank Raiders for 16th straight rivalry game

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Highlanders blank Raiders for 16th straight rivalry game

Posted on 21 October 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

The La Habra high football team claimed another City Championship, shutting out Sonora 40-0 Friday night at The Pit in La Habra.

The Highlander defense, which held Sonora to 104 yards of total offense, has been dominant for five consecutive games now.

They have outscored opponents a combined 227-17 during that stretch and have yet to allow a touchdown in Freeway League play thus far.

“When you get stops and get them off the field, it gives our offense a chance to score,” said Frank Mazzotta, La Habra head coach. “Anytime you can shut your opponent out, they have no chance of winning.”

Quarterback Zach Fogel moved the ball methodically down the field with both his legs and his arm most of the night.

For the third consecutive week, Mazzotta found spots to weave sophomore quarterback Ryan Zanelli into the Highlanders offense.

Zanelli again took advantage of his opportunities on the field, looking accurate from the pocket and leading the offense down the field.

Mazzotta acknowledged Fogel has been playing better than ever the past five weeks, but said he enjoys getting to see what his young quarterback can do against the opponents first teamers.  

“To me it’s fun,” he said. “I really have fun with it.”

Anyone who has been around the La Habra football program knows how much he likes to give all of his players an opportunity to shine on Friday nights.

With his fourth quarter touchdown pass to senior Steven Saucedo, Zanelli has found the end zone in all three of his appearances.

The Raiders kept the game within striking distance for most of the first half.

It was 12-0 with under two minutes remaining in the first half. That’s when Fogel scrambled left and found Mitchell Anderson in the corner of the end zone for a 25-yard score to widen the gap.

A Nate Ulloa interception late in the third quarter set up Skyler Taylor’s 70-yard touchdown run on the very next play.

Taylor finished with 130 yards and two touchdowns.

La Habra (6-2, 3-0) will host last season’s League Champs, Buena Park (1-7, 0-3), who have been scuffling next Friday.

Despite the score, Sonora (5-3, 1-2) has vastly improved from a season ago, in which they were winless. The Raiders will take on Sunny Hills (6-2, 1-2) in a pivotal game for both schools next week at Buena Park High School.

“The thing I love is that these kids now give themselves a chance to compete with a team of [La Habra’s] caliber,” said Daniel Morales, Sonora head coach. “I’m proud of the work they put in all year to get bigger and stronger.”

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Heights council contemplates commercial center

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Heights council contemplates commercial center

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

A shopping center with a coffee shop atmosphere, a place where the community can congregate and the possibility of the city’s first commercial real estate development — La Habra Heights city officials voted, 4-1, to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) with Prism Realty Corp. of Orange County, who may be interested in breaking the city’s rural barriers and opening up such ventures.

Future site?: The La Habra Heights City Council approved researching the possibility of developing the city’s first commercial site located on the corner of West and Hacienda Roads. There are currently no plans to develop the land and the council will continue  to discuss it at future meetings.

Future site?: The La Habra Heights City Council approved researching the possibility of developing the city’s first commercial site located on the corner of West and Hacienda Roads. There are currently no plans to develop the land and the council will continue to discuss it at future meetings.

LHH Councilman Roy Francis cast the lone no vote for the ENA, while the other four elected officials expressed curiosity and some interest in what plans Prism Realty has to offer the city, citing no immediate intention on allowing the commercial real estate developers to purchase the land.
“I don’t think there’s any harm in getting information from that group (Prism Realty),” LHH Mayor Pro Tem Kyle Miller said. “It doesn’t require us to approve or take any action, so if they’re interested, I’m interested in hearing what they have to say.”
The private investor, Costa Mesa-based Prism Realty, approached the city in December 2014 concerning the parcel of land located near The Park on the corner of Hacienda and West Road, according to Ben Kim, the city’s principal planner.
The approved ENA is a guarantee from the city for 180 days to not entertain any other offers from other companies who may want to purchase the 2.99 acre vacant parcel of land, which the city purchased from Los Angeles County around 2004.
The ENA also includes the option of extending the agreement to an additional three more 180 day periods of exclusivity.
“Everything that Prism does during this ENA period will likely help to improve the fair market value of the property,”  City Manager Shauna Clark said.
The property, which was purchased by the city for a new fire station and city hall, is currently not up for sale, but once the city hall and the fire department were built in its current place, the land became known as surplus, Clark said.
If officials decide to begin the process of selling the property, the city needs to declare the property surplus to other government and quasi government entities, which include low cost housing developers, surrounding cities, the county, water districts and school districts, Clark said.
“Those other governments then have first right of refusal to purchase the property for their own use. They have to pay fair market value,” Clark wrote in an email.
After tallying the lone no vote for the ENA, Francis expressed concern in opening up the doors to Prism Realty by allowing the company to outline the details of its plans to the city.
“When I ran for city council both times, I said I would do my best to uphold the general plan. The general plan says there’s no commercial development,” Francis said. “My feeling was, you know, take it to the voters. If they want to change it, okay.”
Residents who took to the podium explained some other possible unintended consequences of opening up to the possibility of commercial development in LHH.
“Realistically if we allow one area to be developed for commercial real estate, there’s no way for us to say no to anywhere else in the city,” LHH resident Scott Thomas said.
Thomas also expressed concern about added traffic and the spending required to maintain the roads from the added traffic.
“This is not compatible with our lifestyle in the Heights. This is not compatible with our goals in the Heights as I have always understood them,” Thomas said.
LHH Mayor Michael Higgins seemed open to the possibility of adding an asset to the city with potential revenue.
Currently the city has only one commercial area, a real estate office.
“I can envision a project that could enhance the rural aspect,” Higgins said.
Except for Francis, council members entertained the idea of listening to what Prism Realty had to offer for the vacant land sitting unused in a heavy traffic flow area.
“It’s a parcel of land by itself just sitting there vacant. It really doesn’t have much value,” LH Heights Councilman Brian Bergman said.
A place for the neighborhood community to gather and discuss ideas in a project designed to blend in with the city, if done right, could serve the community well, Miller said about how he envisions the property being developed.
But even if city officials entertain the idea of selling the property to Prism with the intention to develop it commercially, the city would need a zone change.
“The lot is zoned for public facilities (PF). No one, except another government, could acquire and do anything on that lot without a zone change,” Clark said in the email. “A zone change is an extensive process involving planning, public hearings, the planning commission and eventually the council.”

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Drought causing new LH water regulations

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Drought causing new LH water regulations

Posted on 26 May 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Nur Sattar
For the La Habra Journal

La Habra began its water conservation efforts in August of 2014 following Governor Gerry Brown’s executive order that the state needed to cut down by 20 percent.Presentation page 4
The city called for cut backs of 25 percent through the “Stage 2 Declaration” water shortage supply program that was implemented August 2014.
The declaration prohibits watering your lawn more than two days a week, washing of driveways, sidewalks and asphalts, and washing of vehicles with a hose. The declaration also warns against the runoff of water onto public median turfs and public right of way.
“When you’re watering…you can’t have your water in the gutter or in the street waste water,” said Elias Saykali, director of public works.
Newly added regulations include drip lines for irrigation in new homes that are constructed and residents may have to pay $10,000 a day for violating the terms of the Declaration.
So far, La Habra hasn’t had any violations. If anyone is caught going against the measures the city is proposing, officials try to work it out by giving a warning and leaving door tags.
“We try to educate people and for the most part that works, we haven’t had to issue any citations,” said Brian Jones, water and sewer manager.
At the Town Hall Meeting held on April 30th detailing drought conservation methods Saykali mentioned that the city had invested around $12 million dollars to build the Portola and La Bonita Wells.
The first groundwater well was established in La Habra in 1980 and now there are three, which amounts to 44% of the city’s water supply. These wells allow the city to cut back in the amount of water it pulls from the Municipal Water District of Orange County.
“The cost of local well water drawn from the La Habra basin is much lower than from our other sources of supply,” Jones said.
“The reason we don’t do more [extract] is because of the safe yield,” Saykali said.
The safe yield is the level determined by engineers that determines how much water can be extracted without inflicting any harm on the land.
At the La Habra Town Hall Meeting on drought conservation held on April 30th Saykali presented slides outlining that 7% of La Habra’s water supply in 2015 came from MWDOC.
“We didn’t or buy any water from MWDOC last year or the year before,” Saykali said.
La Habra is also pushing for a “brown is the new green movement” which encourages replacement of turf with drought tolerant options.
The city has drought tolerant landscape medians on Lambert Road.
Dr. Sean Chamberlin an oceanography professor at Fullerton College organized a project with funding provided by the Metropolitan Water District of California. The project entailed training a group of students with the basic ideas needed to introduce drought tolerant plants into lawns. The students then took that training back to their communities to introduce to their parents and neighbors.
Chamberlin explained that the best way to get started is to focus on a small area or corner.
“Start somewhere, learn how to do it and become familiar with the plants. It’s not that they’re just cactus, there’s lots of really beautiful lush plants that don’t require much water,” Chamberlin said.
Despite the variety in drought tolerant options, Chamberlin pointed out that the process of completely replacing one’s lawn with these options can be research heavy.
“You have to really educate yourself to know what to plant and do the planning,” Chamberlin said.
Some of the difficulties in replacing your lawns can include dealing with Latin names of plants and only seasonal options of these plants available in Lowe’s and Home Depot.
“For the average homeowner the key is to just start with something,” Chamberlin said. “Start with one plant, buy it and put it in and see what it does, you want to reduce the amount of lawn.”

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LH Council Approves Economic Plan

Posted on 22 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

LHBJ masthead_imageThe La Habra City Council has approved the 6 items recommended by the Economic Development Ad Hoc Committee (EDAHC) on April 22, 2014 and directed the Committee to implement the plan.
Since the EDAHC was created at the beginning of the year, the Committee has met multiple times to discuss innovative ideas and implementation strategies that could be pursued to expand and strengthen La Habra’s attractiveness to business investment. Many topics have been covered including gaining a better understanding of who our stakeholders are and how to better communicate with them, identifying weaknesses in our existing processes that we can improve upon, and positioning the City to be business friendly in all respects.
The Committee’s Action Plan is as follows:
1. Marketing / Strategy Plan
An Economic Development Strategy will be developed and implemented to attract and retain quality businesses to the City of La Habra that offer employment opportunities for local residents, contribute revenue to support City services, and create economic vitality. The Committee will continue to meet to better understand the region and to identify a strategy plan that attains the goals of the City Council. The Committee will collect and analyze data to identify the strengths and weaknesses of issues regarding economic development. The goal is to create a collaborative marketing and strategy plan that will provide a blueprint on what attracts, or detracts businesses from locating/expanding in the City of La Habra. Data will be derived from customer surveys, conversations with business owners, the Business Visitation Program, and census data.
2. Business Visitation Program
Starting in the month of April, a City team consisting of the Mayor, a member of the Chamber, the Director of Community and Economic Development, and an additional member of Community Development staff will visit businesses to engage them to ascertain how they perceive the City, to let the businesses know the City is interested in their vitality, and to identify any improvements the City can make in how businesses are treated. This data will be used to formulate the Marketing/Strategy Plan above. The goal is to visit eight businesses per month; two in operation from 1 to 5 years, two in operation for 6 to 10 years, two in operation over 11 years, and two top 25 businesses. The Business Visitation Program will help assess what the interests and needs are from the business community perspective.
3. Expediting approval of applications
To better assist businesses, the Committee is requesting that the City Council consider expediting approvals of all applications as a result of the new General Plan, and in general, continue to strive to improve permit streamlining. This will be accomplished through reassessment of the City’s processes for permits and business licenses and would also be considered in the Zoning Code update.
4. Flexibility on administrative decisions
The Committee is requesting that, through the Zoning Code update, City Council consider granting staff the ability to grant more development approvals administratively. If approved, this task will be undertaken during the Zoning Code update.
5. Website improvement
The Committee is recommending that the City have a comprehensive website to link between the City, Chamber, and Collaborative where one can navigate from one site to another without having to use a search engine. The City website will continue to utilize the La Habra Journal and Life in La Habra publication and articles will be placed in the upcoming La Habra Business Journal.
Further, the Economic Development Division’s portion of the City website will be broken down into two sections: Business Attraction and Business Retention. The Business Attraction webpage will be designed from the perspective of a new business operator and will contain information he or she would need to establish a business in the City such as business licensing, planning, and building inspections, etc. The second section will provide information to existing business operators wishing to expand their businesses.
6. Banners
City staff and the La Habra Chamber of Commerce’s focus is to help promote business and convey a message that demonstrates support for buying and receiving service from local vendors. The light pole type banners will be displayed along major streets containing a picture or logo of a local business and a small description of the company.
The committee has already begun implementing the plan with business visitations by the Mayor, Chamber, key City staff and members of the Committee.
Future issues of the La Habra Business Journal will report the progress of this action plan and that of the committee. Meetings are open to the public with location, times and dates posted on the City and Chamber web sites. www.lahabraca.gov and www.lahabrachamber.com

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LH looks to help fix quake damage

Posted on 18 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Jesse Ghawaly
La Habra Journal

Though the ground has settled in the aftermath of the 5.1 magnitude earthquake that stirred the city of La Habra a few weeks ago, many property owners are still working to repair the damages done to their properties.

The La Habra City Council has initiated a 90 day waiver of building permit fees for the structures that were affected by the quakes. After fielding over a 100 calls to the Building and Safety Division, the city enacted this waiver temporarily to assist towards and initiate the repairing process for those buildings.

The waiver was approved on April 7 by the council, just a day before the Orange County Board of Directors declared the earthquake a local emergency. The board of directors estimate the damage done to private and public properties in La Habra at approximately $576,000.

The cost related to physical damage to city facilities, public infrastructure and response efforts is estimated at $73,500, including damage to the roof of the La Habra Children’s Museum and two broken water mains.

Damage to residential properties is estimated to be $425,000. The largest portion of this cost is damage sustained to approximately 100 chimneys and 1,000 lineal feet of brick walls around the city, as well as general cosmetic building repairs (stucco and replacement of broken windows) and water system repairs on private property.

The cost of damage to commercial properties is estimated to be $78,000 and is largely damage to approximately 200 lineal feet of brick walls, 50 glass windows and ruptured water lines.

According to Assistant to the City Manager Robert Ferrier these damage estimates do not include costs related to loss of personal property or merchandise within homes or businesses.

Ferrier added that the city doesn’t expect the cost of damage will have much of an impact on the city’s General Fund revenue.” The per capita cost of the earthquake is approximately $9.30 per person.

In what seems like a win-win situation for the city and its businesses, this 90 day period will alleviate some extra burden on all parties involved.

Though the community was rattled from the waves of that late March earthquake, this waiver of permit fees should put public safety to the top of everyone’s agenda. For more information about this waiver contact the Building and Safety Division of La Habra at (562) 383-4116.

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Heights hires Republic as new trash hauler

Posted on 24 February 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

La Habra Heights Council members selected a new, larger trash hauler, Republic Services, to manage the city’s waste last Thursday at the February council meeting.

A worker prepares: Republic Services’ blue trucks line up and prepare for service. The La Habra Heights City Council approved the contract to make Republic the city’s new trash service provider.

A worker prepares: Republic Services’ blue trucks line up and prepare for service. The La Habra Heights City Council approved the contract to make Republic the city’s new trash service provider.

After debating between three trash companies, Republic Services, ETCO and Athens, every member of the council concluded that the company offering the cheapest price met the city’s needs.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to service the Heights community,” Republic Services Municipal Relationship Manager Mark McGee said in an email statement.
Republic’s $17.75 fee for three 96-gallon carts, one which includes green waste, captured the attention of all elected officials. The low fee initially won council member Brian Bergman over after he stated that in previous meetings he promised community members to seek lower fees for trash services.
“There are a lot of things to consider, and I’m leaning toward obviously reducing the cost,” Bergman said.
Republic maintains contracts in 36 cities with a significant presence in Orange County. Republic’s low proposed rate is about 58 percent lower than what the Heights current trash servicer offered at $29.50.
“Republic is a national hauler,” said LH Heights Councilman Kyle Miller. “To me, on the surface, it seems like they are taking advantage of economies of scale, which is kind of what we were looking for.”
Because of an ordinance passed by the Heights council during the summer, trash services in the community are now mandatory. In the past, some members of the city opted out of trash services completely and preferred to haul trash out on their own.
“There are about 300 residential premises that are not being billed by Haul-Away for refuse services,” said consultant David L. Davis said at last week’s meeting.
The second-lowest bidder for the job was EDCO Disposal, who is also the council’s second choice and the next in line for the job if contract negotiations are not settled with Republic in the next 60 days.
Some evaluation categories in the selection process were experience, financial capability, safety record and an interview. Ninety percent of the selection process was determined by a scoring matrix, while 10 percent was determined by the interview, this is where Haul-Away scored low, Davis said.

Getting charged: Republic Service’s environmentally friendly trucks fuel up. Republic is the new trash service provider for La Habra Heights after approval by city council.

Getting charged: Republic Service’s environmentally friendly trucks fuel up. Republic is the new trash service provider for La Habra Heights after approval by city council.

In the evaluation presented by Davis, the raw scores indicated that Republic and EDCO scored the highest, 30, in the interview, while Haul-Away scored one of the lowest, 15.
“Sometimes cheaper isn’t always better,” Heights Mayor Roy Francis said during the meeting.
The incumbent trash hauler also scored the second-lowest with experience, 19, and the lowest, 10, at financial capability, according to the report provided by Davis.
Republic and EDCO scored the highest, 24, at financial capability.
Morrie Beliakoff, president of Haul-Away, spoke at the podium in his allotted three minutes given to all community members, asking for a re-evaluation. Beliakoff asked for council to consider hearing oral presentations from the top four firms.
“I do not feel that the findings fairly represent our proposal to you,” Beliakoff said. “We were graded as not being as financially capable as most of our competitors.” He then conceded to this assessment. “We’re a 20-truck operation versus 600, 500, 900 trucks.”
Council did not discuss his request for more discussion. Haul-Away has been in long negotiations in the past with the city. These extended talks are what led to the city seeking outside bids from other vendors.
“We believe the difference is the result of Republic having securing long term contracts for dump sites and economies of scale,” City Manager Shauna Clark said in an email. “Republic is a larger company than what we have now, but I am assured by our consultant and the review panel that Republic is more than willing to adjust to our needs.”
Clark hopes to bring the franchise agreement upon council at the next meeting on March 13, and she said a transition between Haul-Away and Republic could take up to 60 days.
Francis expressed some sadness after the meeting when asked about losing Haul-Away, who serviced the Heights for about 20 years.
But after much debate by the council, he agrees with the decision and feels the city seems poised to save residents money on its trash services.

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LHH Council discusses ordinance changes

Posted on 23 January 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

La Habra Heights councilmembers rejected a proposed amendment to its municipal code at the first meeting of the new year in hopes of installing oversight for city staff, who was handed more discretion. The ordinance was pushed back to the planning commission for further review.
Not wanting property owners in the Heights to trample through home improvement municipal hurdles, city officials sought these amendments to its municipal code in hopes to streamline the process.  But according to some of the public and city officials, minor tweaks are needed first.
“I don’t want to make this difficult at all,” Councilman Brian Bergman stated at the meeting. However, he concluded, “I would like to remand it back, for (the planning commission) to do some more work on it.”
The idea of too much discretion in the hands of the Community Development Director (CDD), who is also Heights City Manager Shauna Clark, halted the passing of this ordinance and sent the amendment back to the drawing board.
The code amendments make certain changes, like requiring lighting plans for new developments only. However, the CDD has discretion on whether or not someone might require this. And the changes also sought to give the CDD discretion for small home project applications.
“Except for the mayor, who has consistently opposed these code changes, I was thrown a curve by the change in position of other council members,” Clark said.
“I surmise it’s a reaction to the misstatements made at the podium and, to a degree, a misunderstanding of what the code changes were supposed to accomplish,: she added.
Before council debated passing these changes, Heights community members spoke out against passing the amendments, citing concerns that were later recognized by city officials. Residents also voiced concerns about this amendment affecting the city’s lifestyle outside the city.
“You’re ruining the rural environment we came here for and trying to make us like the surrounding concrete sprawl,” community member Stephen Blagden said at the podium.
Throughout the conversation at the meeting, councilmembers touted the possibility of hastening the process of community development and home improvement. All of them seemed to agree that the hurdles should be easier to clear within city hall.
Councilmember Brian Bergman suggested the commission chairman sign off on any decisions of the CDD to quell concerns of too much authority. However, installing more eyes and opinions into the procedure might defeat the purpose of this amendment.
“The intent is to make this a simpler process,” Councilman Michael Higgins said. He, along with Councilman Kyle Miller, voiced concern that adding oversight might nullify the goal of simplicity.
These changes have been debated during the last several months while the planning commission and city council pondered ways to improve and clarify portions of the city’s developmental code.
Clark believes oversight from the planning commission over staff would slow the process.
“If you stick a planning commissioner into the mix and he/she has authority to deny the project, you are obscuring the pathway to development and making the process more uncertain,” Clark said.
Francis, according to Clark, opposed the changes from the beginning, but she did not expect the council to overwhelmingly oppose the changes based on certain authorities the ordinance grants her as the CDD.
“All we want is clarity. We want to be able to tell an applicant that if he/she complies with the code, it’s very likely the project will be approved,” Clark said.  “Then we need to be able to clearly explain what the code says so they know what it takes to comply.”
The city manager stated that the proposed changes to the application process, which involves her discretion, are primarily for small projects “and secondarily to clean up areas of the code that were consistently confusing to applicants.”
“I do believe that due to the Morgan ruling, the code needs to allow fewer reports for small projects,” Clark said. She bases this “on the reactions we get from people who are astounded to find out the level, complexity, and cost of reports they must submit simply to make application for a room addition.”

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Nonprofits face new city leases

Posted on 21 November 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

Four non-profit organizations will have to approve a new lease deal for their facilities after a split decision by the La Habra City Council Monday.
The Gary Center, Help for Brain Injured Children, The Community Resource Care Center and the Historical Museum are housed in city-owned buildings and will now be offered a five-year lease, with an additional five year lease with mutual agreement for the facilities.
The organizations have been operating on a one-year lease for the last 20-30 years according to Kent Roberts, president of the La Habra Old Settlers Historical Society, which oversees the museum, and presenting a case for the nonprofits to the council. Roberts had been asking the city for 19-year leases for each of the nonprofit groups.
“They just want to have more time so they can do what they do in the community,” Roberts said.
However, the city did not want that long of term.
Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Beamish said that he didn’t want to make the decisions for future city councils.
Council members seemed in agreement that they don’t foresee a time where the city council would ever evict the nonprofits from the properties, which fueled Roberts’ argument for the longer term.
Councilman Tim Shaw cast the dissenting vote against the five-year lease. Councilman Jim Gomez abstained from the voting and left the council chamber because he felt more open discussion with the nonprofits needed to take place before a lease offer was made.
The city council also agreed that the nonprofits in the city-owned buildings will have to be fully responsible for paying their utilities (something they had not done in the past). This is projected to allow the city to save approximately $21,500 per year.
A point that Shaw agreed was right.
“If you are paying the bills yourself, you will naturally be more responsible and shut off lights when not in use and not blast the AC during the summer and so on,” he explained.

The nonprofit tenants will continue to pay the annual $1 fee for the use of the facilities. The non-profit organizations have helped pay a large percentage of the capital improvements for each of the facilities, the most being HBIC with approximately $1.4 million spent over the years on upkeep and the Gary Center with just under $1 million.
Roberts cited a long-term lease is beneficial for non-profit organizations as they seek grants and endowments to help with their operational funding.  He agreed that the five-plus-five year lease helps, but reiterated that a 19-year lease would even be better for this cause.
All have a 90-day termination clause and the council established that termination by either party had to be approved by a four-fifths vote of the council, in an effort to ensure greater stability.
The Museum had an additional stipulation in the lease that if the council were to terminate the lease, a new, suitable location for the museum would need to be found.
The leases will now be formally presented to the organizations for their approval and signatures.

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Heights looks for new trash service

Posted on 29 September 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

Stuck at a negotiation impasse, La Habra Heights officials resolved in the September council meeting to open a bid for the city’s waste-hauling services. The aim is to garner better services for lower prices for the community.  Seal_La Habra Heights
The city council passed a resolution to stop negotiations with Haul-Away-Rubbish Service Co., Inc. after decades of trash service to over half the residents in the Heights. This opens the door for other waste collection services to stake claim on the territory.
“It will make the process more competitive … and certain companies maybe will offer additional services that aren’t currently being offered,” said Assistant City Manager Gabriella Yap, who was instrumental in the negotiations.
Haul-Away resisted offers from the city that staff deemed fair, and the city was “willing to try and meet” at a middle range, a report on the negotiations concludes. The report states that Haul-Away and the city fell short on a contract in part because of green waste requirements, administrative cost recovery and rate structure.
The city has an obligation to divert waste whenever possible, the report says.  It continues: “We felt that if residents needed additional carts for green waste, which is very likely due to the large lots in the city, the rates Haul-Away wanted to set could be a disincentive to do so.”
Haul-Away believes they already provide adequate green trash service for a fair price to the community but at a high cost to the trash company, said Morrie Beliakoff, president and one of the representatives of the company who spoke at the council meeting.

“I don’t know how much more free things we could do,” Beliakoff said.
Also, costs to the city piled up during the talks with Haul-Away. The city hired a consultant to prepare an agreement with the trash company, incurring administration fees, which also include city attorney fees and staff time.
In negotiations, the city asked Haul-Away to cover these costs, which most city council members at the meeting agreed is not unusual. Haul-Away refused to pay the costs even after price adjustments.
During public comments on this matter, some members of the community expressed concern about the city gouging Haul-Away, but City Manager Shauna Clark fired back at these concerns.
“The last number put on the table by the city was $25,000,” which is not nearly enough to cover the costs, Clark explained, countering a community speaker’s claim that the city sought the full $80,000 in administration fees.
However, at this same meeting, the city council passed an ordinance amending the municipal code regarding solid waste, also termed the “Integrated Waste Management ordinance.”
The ordinance, which is an amendment to the municipal code chapter 4.3, requires all residents and commercial businesses to maintain mandatory waste pickup.  Currently, the city allows for community members to self-haul their trash with proper permits. However, 150 to 200 estimated residents do not subscribe to waste-hauling services, and the city staff is unaware of any issued permits.
The city believes it can obtain the best rate for trash services if all residents were required to subscribe to the city’s waste-hauling agreement, according to the agenda report titled “Ordinance Mandating Collection of Solid Waste and Recyclables.”
City council members expressed concern about bidding for other services and forcing Haul-Away to compete in an open market because of what Councilmember Michael Higgins describes as pleasurable experiences with the company.
“I have no complaints about them. I would’ve preferred them to continue on in this community,” said Higgins. “I’m distressed a little bit that these negotiations have been going on for approximately two years and we haven’t been able to come together with an agreement.”
According to city documents, the process leading to the commencement of a service provider will conclude on May 1, 2014. At this time, the best bidder for the waste collection services will be chosen.

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LH Heights chamber remodel sparks concern

Posted on 20 June 2013 by La Habra Journal

By Danielle Parmentier
La Habra Journal

Some residents of La Habra Heights expressed concern with the city council members over the proposed 2013-14 budget during the monthly city council meeting last week.
In what can be described as a heated meeting, councilmembers and city staff were targets of the crowd’s unhappiness with several aspects of the proposed budget for the upcoming year including the spending of city funds on the proposed remodeling of the city council’s multipurpose room.Seal_La Habra Heights
The renovation to the city hall offices was approved two months ago with a proposed budget of  $2 million. The council was looking to add on to the expense to pay for the remodeling of the city’s multipurpose room, where the council meetings are held.
The new estimate was proposed at an additional $328,000 and would include renovations such as the asbestos removal, roof repair, installation of audio\video equipment, and replacement floor tiles.
The room contains asbestos in the walls and ceiling, as well as loose and falling ceiling tiles in the public area, among other issues such as the lack of air conditioning and parking spot availability.
According to the revised budget, the balance for the general fund as of this June is over $7 million which has just over $5 million already earmarked for projects throughout next year, which did not include any renovations of the MPR.
“I’m against spending almost half a million dollars to remodel this room. This was never part of the plan,” said resident George Edwards who spoke several times during the meeting about the budget issues.
One of the most contested items of the MPR proposal is the idea of installing a raised platform for the council to sit on during meetings.

Residents were angry with the idea, though many other cities, both local and distant have raised platforms which allow residents in the back of the room in which the meetings are held, to see and be seen by the councilmembers.
“[Councilmembers are] proposing to spend our money for a raised throne and arch for the council […] Do you need to feel above us in order to function? This reduces the very multipurpose capability of this room” stated resident Stephen Blagdon whose thoughts were echoed by several other residents.
In the city’s response to the statements made by the public at the meeting, several city staff and council members stood up for the cost estimates and future changes. But the council members expressed that they were flexible in removing items in order to minimize expenses.
Mayor Pro Tem Brian Bergman questioned the project’s architect and had him go over expenses to see where cuts could be made.
Council members spent over half an hour deliberating with the building architect about which items to renovate and which to forgo to allow for more money to be saved by the city.
“The real cost has to do with dealing with the asbestos and the other hazardous materials that are in this building,” explained Shauna Clark, City Manager.
The architect working on the remodel emphasized the importance of the removal of the asbestos ceiling tiles stating that if it wasn’t done now, it would be left for someone else to do at a later date.
“The improvement of this asset should last 25 to 30 years” added Clark in defense of the renovations.
The project to renovate the current administrative offices will begin next month, to allow for the architect to include the added alternative of the MPR in the plan.
The next city council meeting will be held on July 11 at 6 p.m.

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