Tag Archive | "La Habra Heights"

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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LH Heights  ranked Top 10 safest city in the state

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LH Heights ranked Top 10 safest city in the state

Posted on 22 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Shanin Thomas
La Habra Journal

(Link added)La Habra Heights – According to a recent analysis, the city of La Habra Heights was ranked tenth on the list of safest cities in California.
The analysis, created by ValuePenguin which is a website that provides visual tools to explain data and research, included the most recent Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Crime Report to determine the safety of California cities. Heights Landscape BW
La Habra Heights is ranked seventh in cities ranging in population from 5,000 to 20,000, ultimately ranking 10th overall.
In order to efficiently rank over 400 California cities, the data collected involved property crimes, like burglary or arson, and violent crimes, like murder or assault.
Almost 100 years ago the city of La Habra Heights was simply an avocado grove. Gradually it has become a charming, secluded area of unique residences.
“It gives me great pleasure knowing that the city of La Habra Heights is recognized as one of the safest cities in California,” said Michael Higgins, La Habra Heights mayor. “The report is only one of the confirmations that the city is moving in the right direction. Our city can never be too safe.”
La Habra Heights does not have sidewalks, curbs, or street lights and most residents often feel comfortable enough to decide not to lock their doors.
Real estate agent and longtime resident, Jan Fiore, said that this may be the exact reason why the city is safe.
She said that the combination of no streetlights, curbs, or sidewalks does not seem inviting to criminals.
“This is not a place where criminals want to be because they cannot get in and out quickly,” she said.
Most residents living within the La Habra Heights boundaries stay for a long amount of time.
Additionally, no two homes in the city of La Habra Heights are the same.
“You can create whatever you want,” Fiore said. Basketball courts, large gardens, horse stables, or anything else a residence may want can be allotted in a home in La Habra Heights, while still being near major cities, schools, and shopping centers.
Higgins and La Habra Heights’ council members said they try to prevent problems within the city before they happen. Still, the mayor believes it is not just one organization or individual that has created such a safe environment.
Organizations, council members, city managers, and volunteers are all accredited to maintain public safety and the quality of living in this unique city, he said.
“It takes good city management and good residents combined. Without everyone working together it does not happen and we are fortunate to have this combination of people,” Higgins said.
Kyle Miller, La Habra Heights Mayor Pro Tem, said that he and the council members tackle their goals of public safety on a day to day basis.
Because the council members have set such high goals, this is not the first time the city of La Habra Heights has been listed as a top city.
According to the California Policy Center, La Habra Heights was named one of the least financially stressed cities in California last year.
Higgins also said that he will be receiving an award on behalf of the city’s accomplishments from the Joint Powers Insurance Agency (JPIA) due to its limiting liability.
He said he is personally satisfied and proud to have accomplished these honors.
“We all try to make this the best place to live,” Higgins said.

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Supervisor's office clarifies Heights donation

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Supervisor’s office clarifies Heights donation

Posted on 08 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

A new letter from Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe’s office clarifies the funds donated to the La Habra Heights Community Support Foundation for the Jaws of Life gifted to the city. Seal_La Habra Heights

La Habra Heights Mayor Pro Tem Kyle Miller obtained the letter from the county supervisor’s office to outline the large sum donated by Supervisor Knabe to the foundation, explaining that not all of the money was intended for the Jaws of Life project, which was recently donated to the La Habra Heights Fire Department.

“It’s really a nice accomplishment that the residents of the community came together, over 50 of them, and donated towards the fundraising efforts,” Miller said about the resident’s portion of the donation for the equipment.

According to the new letter, the breakdown of the $28,734.58 donated by Knabe is that $22,000 was for the Jaws of Life fund, while $6,734.58 was sent for the Heights Watch Program, a neighborhood watch organized by the La Habra Heights Community Support Foundation.

City council members voted unanimously at the June council meeting to accept the Jaws of Life donation totaling the amount of $28,712.78, according to City Manager Shauna Clark.

With Knabe’s donation, this means LHH residents contributed approximately $6,712.78.

“If you don’t clarify, it appears like Knabe’s office paid for the entire thing, and we’re sort of hanging on to the resident’s donation, which is entirely untrue,” Miller  said. “I’m disappointed that a fundraising effort for our Fire Department, where over 50 residents came together along with Don Knabe’s office, would come into question from a false allegation.”LHHeights_JawsofLife

Members of the community contributed to funding of the equipment through donations and some fundraising through the Foundation’s Address Post Program, Miller explained.

The Address Post Program allows residents to have a clearly marked white plastic post filled with cement installed in front of there house with their address on it.

The idea behind it is to help emergency vehicles clearly see the address and respond quickly in an emergency.

The labor was conducted at no cost by volunteers, and the foundation charged residents $75 to install a post. All proceeds from this fundraiser contributed to the Jaws of Life fund.

Residents who donated larger amounts to the foundation for the Jaws of life fund were recognized at the June city council meeting.

Also, members of the La Habra Heights Fire Department displayed the new equipment at the June council meeting while residents observed.

The Foundation pursued donations for the Jaws of Life after they asked La Habra Heights Fire Chief Doug Graft what he believed was the most needed important improvement for the department.

Earlier this month the La Habra Journal reported that Knabe’s full $28,734.58 donation was intended for the use of the Jaws of Life donation.

This information, taken from a county document marked with a received date of January 30, 2015, was obtained by a Heights resident through a public records request, Miller surmised, and was left at the La Habra Heights city clerk’s counter during the last city council meeting.

According to Miller, the information acquired from that letter was incorrect and confusing, and that it was merely an internal letter from the county supervisor’s office.

The county supervisor’s office made a mistake in not including the specified amounts in what it called its internal memo obtained through a public record’s request according to Angie Valenzuela, deputy of Los Angeles County Supervisor, Fourth District.

Valenzuela also confirmed the breakdown of the amounts outlined on the letter recently obtained by Miller.

“In the future, we will ensure that all funds allocated are clearly specified,” Valenzuela said in an email.

Miller emphasized that no members of the foundation are paid, and at times members of the foundation use their own personal money to support community-related projects.

One of these projects, the Jaws of Life, is now in place with the La Habra Heights Fire Department.





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The Heights rocks out once again in The Park

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The Heights rocks out once again in The Park

Posted on 01 July 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Katelyn Chavez
La Habra Journal

The La Habra Heights Improvement Association brings families and friends together each summer for an entertaining event every Wednesday night.
Last week, the audience experienced the music of U2 performed by the Whittier worship band, 40.
Brian Guthrie on vocals, Sol Rodriguez on guitar, Josh Mervin on drums, and Ed Eller as their event manager; this has been their second time playing for the LHHIA’s  music in the park, and said they are glad to do it.
“The energy is so awesome and we want to keep coming back,” Guthrie said. “There’s people we know here, and new faces and it’s so thrilling to see!”
Melisa Villanueva and Eric Nicolson are from Fullerton, and they attended the event for the first time this year and said the band sounds just like U2!
They added that this event is sure to bring them back because it was so fun.
For over 20 years, LHHIA has sponsored music in the park, and each year the music gets better and better.
American favorites this year include tribute bands that play sounds of: The Beach Boys, U2, Swing Era, Elvis, Brooks & Dunn, Neil Diamond, Smooth sounds of Santana, and a battle of the bands with the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
This year there’s a concert tribute for everyone with good food and desserts to make this event even more enjoyable.
The event is so popular and has grown with people starting with an audience from 400 people to 2000, according to organizer Jennifer Jones .
“We start planning for this event in January, and like to create a fun atmosphere where friends and family create memories, and bring new people to create some of their own,” Jones explained.
Elizabeth Espinoza is from La Habra has been coming to the concerts for the past five years. Thistime, she brought her friends to celebrate her birthday.
“It’s my second week of summer vacation, and this is perfect to start with,” she said.  “My husband asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate, and I couldn’t think of anything better to do than this! Next week I’m bringing my family.”
Fernando Menchaca who is from Whittier has been working for this event for the past six years and puts his joy in his work to see all the smiling faces.
He describes this event … “simply irresistible!  Everyone has to come at least once because it automatically puts you in a good mood. The vibe never decreases.”

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Measure A wording finalized

Posted on 17 January 2015 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

A superior court judge imposed her own verbiage on all parties involved in a lawsuit regarding the Healthy City Initiative last Friday, modifying the title of a controversial measure on the La Habra Heights March election ballot.Web_LHJ oil and ladera palma_0143_
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell ordered city officials to make slight changes to the ballot title question for the anti-oil initiative the city dubbed Measure A, attempting to reach a compromise between Heights Oil Watch members and the oil industry’s preferred language, City Manager Shauna Clark said.
The new language changes the word “any” to “certain” among other small verbiage alterations.
“It was not some kind of compromise,” Clark stated. “The language was adopted by the court.”
The city manager preferred to let the La Habra Heights city council vote on the new language, but the judge decided to impose the changes and settle the matter on that day.
City Attorney John Brown stated at the meeting that he is confident from a legislative standpoint that the city did everything they could to follow the election codes.
On December 1, an oil industry backed lawsuit filed by Heights resident James Pigott convinced city officials to change the title question on the ballot measure, eliminating the term “high intensity petroleum operations.”
But the HOW group filed its own lawsuit December 12 arguing that the new verbiage the city agreed upon is not impartial and could confuse voters, who might think the initiative would ban existing oil operations.

The superior court judge agreed.

The final version of the debated ballot title now reads like this:
“Shall an ordinance be adopted that prohibits land use for certain treatments of oil or gas wells that are designed to enhance production or recovery, any new oil and gas wells, and reactivation of idle wells?”
The judge ultimately said all the initiative language is partial. “It was the judges’ decision because we [The LHH City Council] just could not reach an agreement,” Kyle Miller said at the meeting.
None of the actual initiative language has been changed, except for the title or question.
An oil industry group, Californians for Energy Independence, recently donated $200,000 to help fight Measure A in La Habra Heights. Members of the HOW organization see it as a steep amount for a community with under 4,000 voters.
As stated, Measure A would ban the drilling of any new oil wells and prohibit the reactivation of any existing idle wells while maintaining existing oil operations.
The oil industries in the community, including California Resource Corporation, formerly known as Occidental Petroleum, and the president of Matrix Oil argue that the initiative not only aims to stop new oil drilling but also could put a halt to all existing oil operations.
Some of the Heights council members and the city manager agreed and have argued in past meetings that the broad verbiage in the initiative reads like it might lead to existing oil wells being shut down because of well rotating.
The HOW group and supporters of Measure A claim the initiative is intended to stop new oil drilling in La Habra Heights, while maintaining existing operations. In other words, the initiative is meant to stop the Matrix Oil project from commencing at a property that it is leasing from the Southern California Gas Co. at 2490 Las Palomas Drive.
A time line, provided by the city of LHH, with the different titles for the initiative with all the small changes from the beginning of the process is as follows:

1.  Language initially written by BBK and challenged by Pigott (Adopted November 13, 2014).
“Shall an ordinance be adopted that prohibits land use for new oil and gas development, including high-intensity petroleum operations, new oil and gas wells, and reactivation of idle wells?”

2.  Approved by Council on December 1 to settle Pigott (Adopted December 1, 2014).
“Shall an ordinance be adopted that prohibits land use for any treatment of oil or gas wells that is designed to enhance production or recovery, any new oil and gas wells, and reactivation of idle wells?”
Note: December 31:  The Judge objected to the use of the word “any”. She did not object to the word “enhance”

3.  Submitted to Judge O’Donnell (Adopted January 2, 2015).
“Shall an ordinance be adopted that prohibits land use for treatment of oil or gas wells that is designed to enhance production or recovery, any new oil and gas wells, and reactivation of idle wells?”

4. Final language (Imposed by order of the court – January 7, 2015)
“Shall an ordinance be adopted that prohibits land use for certain treatments of oil or gas wells that are designed to enhance production or recovery, any new oil and gas wells, and reactivation of idle wells?”

According to Clark, the city sent the ballots to the printer Monday. The election is set for March 5.

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Cars fill The Park for Pet Prescription Team

Posted on 16 June 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

At the Pet Prescription Team’s annual car show on May 31, dogs barked, cars roared and the community, including a young girl with a rare disease, entered into a time warp at the sight of vintage automobiles.

Giving back: Safeco Insurance donated a check for $13,500 to Pet Prescription Team to help the nonprofit organization continue its mission to train pets to become certified therapy dogs.

Giving back: Safeco Insurance donated a check for $13,500 to Pet Prescription Team to help the nonprofit organization continue its mission to train pets to become certified therapy dogs.

The team, in their red shirts with dogs in tow, hosted 107 vehicles at The Park in La Habra Heights during its fifth annual car show, which included barbecued burgers, discussions of old cars and plenty of lounging in shaded spots under trees. The event raised funds for the Pet Prescription Team, the La Habra Heights-based nonprofit group geared toward “touching people’s lives through pets.”
“I think everybody loves dogs,” car show collaborator and Pet Prescription Team member Phil Emery said about the large gathering to support the non-profit organization, which eases the tensions of the sick.
Isabella Apodaca, the young girl smiling ear to ear at the car show, was diagnosed at 6 with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. At the event, she reunited with Bella, a Pet Prescription Team dog who visited her at the hospital over the course of the last year.

“The little girl has the heart of a fighter,” Pet Prescription Team volunteer Judy Caron said. “She has “an incredible, feisty spirit.”
People at the car show cheered for Apodaca when Krystal Emery described her cancer battle, and the girl did not shy away from attention as a crowd of people gathered to capture her photo.
Like the dogs of the Pet Prescription Team, the car show provided her with an escape from the real world.
The event is organized to raise funds for the Pet Prescription Team’s cause to help train family pets to be therapy animals.   The Team started 12 years ago through the mind of Emery’s wife, Krystal Emery, who found that dogs could lighten the lives of patients who desperately needed comfort.

Photo time: Claire Spothelfer, ex La Habra Heights mayor, and husband Paul Spothelfer group together with Phil Emery, car show organizer, in front of a 1953 Ford Police Interceptor, which was donated by CAP volunteers and Dorothy Dean Jackson. Paul and Claire helped build the gazebo at The Park in the 1980’s, which held its first concert in the park in 1989, according to Spothelfer.

Photo time: Claire Spothelfer, ex La Habra Heights mayor, and husband Paul Spothelfer group together with Phil Emery, car show organizer, in front of a 1953 Ford Police Interceptor, which was donated by CAP volunteers and Dorothy Dean Jackson. Paul and Claire helped build the gazebo at The Park in the 1980’s, which held its first concert in the park in 1989, according to Spothelfer.

Events like the car show provide the non-profit with funds to keep the organization going.
Emery stated that money from the event will be used to perk up the non-profit’s ability to help people, buying things like stuffed puppies and special books.
Along with funds raised from the car show, Safeco Insurance presented a $13,500 check to the dog-loving organization in reward for a 21-day online contest. The Pet Prescription Team garnered more votes than 30 other non-profits, including major groups like Habitat for Humanity.
Emery touts social networking and the organization’s online presence as a major factor in the group’s success in the contest. He also is quick to point out that communities love dogs, also a reason for the big gathering at the car show.
La Habra Heights Councilman Roy Francis and wife Judy at the gathering sported their 1928, dark red, all-steel Ford Sedan Delivery — a car with 47 years of restoration behind it. Francis bought the vehicle in pieces before he left to fight the war in Vietnam in 1966.
Last year the ex-mayor won the best of show award at this event.
Other automobile enthusiasts with leashes attached to their dogs hid from the sun, read books and made sure their vintage prized possessions were flawless for people to admire.
Jim Ellis, a Whittier resident and “a guy who likes cars,” polished his 1964 Sport Fury to make sure all the blemishes were touched up. This is Ellis’ fourth year coming to the event.
Bob Harrison, a 12-year La Habra Heights resident, scoured pages in a book he was studying with his dog Jake, who rested his snout on the grass next to his deep red 1933 Chevy.
“It’s just an old little hot rod,” Harrison, who has attended every one of these events at The Park, said about the car that he bought restored some years ago.

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Residents prepare for annual Avocado Fest

Posted on 01 May 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Jane Williams
La Habra Journal

Three women who grew up in La Habra are convinced they can make guacamole better than the chefs in La Habra Heights.

Avocado frenzy: Debra Sadro, Georgina Lewis, and Josie Anderson discussing in Josie’s kitchen just which Guacamole recipe each should enter in the Heights 2014 Avocado Festival Best Guacamole Contest.

Avocado frenzy: Debra Sadro, Georgina Lewis, and Josie Anderson discussing in Josie’s kitchen just which Guacamole recipe each should enter in the Heights 2014 Avocado Festival Best Guacamole Contest.

Josie Anderson, who is in charge of social and senior services for the City of La Habra, and her sister Georgina Lewis, who recently retired from the city’s finance department will each make their own special guacamole and dare the judges at the La Habra Heights Avocado Festival not to pick one of theirs on May 17 at The Park, located on Hacienda Boulevard.
Joining them in this mission is Debra Sadro, wife of La Habra’s interim city manager Jim Sadro.
In the gym at The Park, three avocado experts will be happy to give you advice on the planting, caring and feeding of avocados and other fruit trees. The Frinks  will once again bring the collection of avocados in a variety of sizes and colors.  Experts on growing native plants that can cope with drought conditions will be there. And Mr. Tomato Man, Gary Delk, will tell visitors everything they ever wanted to know about tomatoes, modern and heirlooms.
Outside, there will be vendors selling crafts for gardening and gardens, as well as many other creations.  Guacamole, jams and jelly, honey, and avocado oil will also be for sale.
The FFA members of Sonora, with some help from those at La Habra High School, will set up a petting zoo of their farm animals.  Various dog rescue groups will also be on hand.
The Avocado Fun and Games area will feature an Avocado Raceway where those interested can construct and race their own avocado racecar. There will be two ways of judging the created vehicle: speed and distance. Now that La Habra Heights Councilman Roy Francis is no longer occupied with the duties of mayor, he has agreed to challenge all attendees to a custom avocado car race, which will take place at 2:45 p.m.  The car must have an avocado body, but everything else can be customized. We’ve heard a few will be redesigned cars previously used in Pine Wood Derby Races.
There will be other games, like Whack-A-Gopher, and Toss the Avocado through the Tree, plus face painting and a photography booth. Also, all ages are urged to enter the Best Decorated Avocado contest. Again, people can bring their own avocado or decorate one provided. Jewels, yarn, wiggly eyes, an assortment of materials, sequins and tons of glue will be provided.  Judging for that contest will take place at 3:30 p.m.
Let’s return to the Guacamole Challenge of the three La Habra ladies now. Once again, there will be a Best Guacamole Contest, and the La Habrans felt it was time they showed what they could do.  Anyone is welcome to enter. Bring at least two cups of your guacamole to the gym’s information booth at The Park on Saturday, May 17, between 9 and 11 a.m. It will be refrigerated after being transferred to a bowl with your name and phone number. You can supply your own chips or vegetables, but tortilla chips will be provided.  Professional restaurateurs will judge entries based on taste, freshness, texture and overall appeal.
A second contest for the recipe with the best use of avocado will be held at the same time. This is for an unusual recipe using avocados in a dessert, salad, soup, entree or an ingredient in baked goods.
For those who would like to enter, bring enough for eight small servings to the gym at The Park between 9 and 11 a.m. on May 17 and take it to the information booth where it will be labeled name and phone number. Please include your recipe and bring any accompanying condiments you would like used with the recipe.  Entries will be judged the same basis as the guacamole, with the additional factor of presentation being considered.
Lewis was more than willing to provide her guacamole recipe, but not the proportions. It includes cilantro, diced red onion, squeezed (not bottled) lime juice, diced Roma tomatoes, as well as diced fire-roasted hot Jalapenos, salt and all the avocados you want to add.  Sadro uses three large avocados, also red onion, lime juice, three tablespoons of cilantro and a jalapeno and Serrano pepper chopped fine. After everything is mashed and stirred together both ladies recommend leaving an avocado pit in the resulting mix so it doesn’t brown.
Anderson didn’t want to divulge her secrets.
One entry from the Heights will be from Lisa Schirmeister, who intensely farms her acre of land. All the ingredients for guacamole will come from her yard. First, she’ll pick some avocados in her yard. Then she’ll roast some jalapenos, also from her yard. When they ‘re done, she’ll pick as many tomatoes as she needs and throw them in the same pan and add the garlic she also grew.
Next, she’ll juice some limes, then put them in the blender with cilantro, salt, some onion powder and white pepper flakes as well as the tomato mixture. When that is fully pureed, the blender’s contents will be added slowly to the mashed avocado with several taste tests until it tastes just right. If it’s too bland, some pepper flakes will heat it up.
Schirmeister said, “I can’t give you amounts because avocados and tomatoes are different sizes.  It’s a visual and taste thing.”
So, mix up your own batch of unique ingredients, add lots of avocados, and bring two cups of it to the Avocado Festival before 11 a.m.   Be there or be square.

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Bergman voted new LH Heights mayor

Posted on 18 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

Outgoing La Habra Heights Mayor Roy Francis sat on the middle chair in the council chambers April 10 for the last time during his first run as mayor, ending what some officials described as an eventful and productive era.
And before moving his seat at the table one over to the left, Heights councilmembers all voted in the first springtime meeting to accept the nomination of Councilman Brian Bergman as the next mayor of the city, continuing a tradition of promoting the mayor pro tem as the next agenda setter.Mayor Brian Bergman
“I want to thank Roy for all the hard work that he’s done over the last year,” said Bergman, who was elected mayor for the third time. “We did have a lot of issues, but Roy didn’t falter in any of those.”
In his stead, Francis oversaw the start of the city hall renovation, a change in decorum rules at the chamber podium and the hiring of a new trash hauler. And he witnessed community backlash against almost every decision made, including a lawsuit filed by community activist George Edwards.
But when asked about his accomplishments, Francis, an ex-firefighter, chose to look forward instead.
“I don’t dwell too much on that stuff. I just move on and try to do what’s best for the whole community,” Francis said.
Francis did not make any commitments on whether or not he will run next election, instead opting to weigh his options. Roy Francis- 2012
La Habra Heights council members elected Bergman as mayor for 2014-15. Bergman’s council term ends in March 2017. Although not required, tradition has dictated that the mayor pro tem become the next one in charge.
As mayor, Bergman, an operating manager of aircraft flight maintenance at a major airline, will oversee such issues as the Matrix oil drilling, state-mandated storm water management and pollution control, street repairs and the completion of the construction of city hall.
His first run at the helm was in 2007 when taking over the position from Tela Millsap. This was just before the nation’s great recession that devastated the economy, proving to be a difficult beginning for a first-time mayor. Yet Bergman seemed poised and experienced.
Councilman Kyle Miller, who was on the roads committee, asked the new mayor towards the end of his first meeting to place the city’s dilapidated roads on the agenda, “I would like to start the conversation on our roads,” Miller said. “The roads are deteriorating. It’s something we have to think about.”
Council members, in a unanimous vote, agreed to Miller’s assertions, and the topic will be discussed at a future council meeting.
Along with electing a new mayor, La Habra Heights council members defeated the outgoing mayor’s nomination of Jane Williams as the next mayor pro tem, instead electing Michael Higgins for the position.
Bergman, Higgins and Miller voted against Fancis’ nomination of Willliams’ for the position.

Michael Higgins

Michael Higgins

Bergman explained that he could not vote for Williams because he did not know if she would run for city council next election, attempting to avert the possibility of an inexperienced newcouncil member becoming mayor. Williams is the only woman on the La Habra Heights council.
“She’s been there a year and a half. She’s paid her dues,” Francis . “She deserves to be at the spot. She knows a lot of people and she gets a lot of information.”
Francis added that Higgins will do fine as mayor pro tem, stating that there is not much to the job, except for carrying the title and being another vote out of five.
Even though it seems — with four male council members and one female — men dominate the Heights council, the city has a history of female mayors, slight as it may be.
There have been a total of six different women and 17 different men holding the title of mayor. Men held the post 25 different times, while women did so 10 times. The first mayor of La Habra Heights, Jean Good, was female and held the post four times from 1979 to 1990.
Williams told the Whittier Daily News that she planned on running in the next election.

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State looks to continue local citrus quarantine

Posted on 18 April 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Heather Pape
La Habra Journal

The citrus quarantine affecting Los Angeles and Orange counties that was originally declared the last two years may continue for double the amount of time some had originally expected.
Two years ago, the Huanglongbing Disease (HLB), a disease that kills citrus trees, was discovered at a Hacienda Heights’ residence, and since then, a large amount of the surrounding area has been under quarantine. Ninety miles of Los Angeles County and three miles of Orange County have been contained so the bacterium does not spread further.
HLB is also commonly known as the citrus greening disease because it attacks the tree’s vascular system, causing deformed, bitter fruit before killing the tree. There is no cure for HLB. The bacterial blight is commonly transmitted by an insect known as the Asian citrus psyllids. They are gnat-sized, flying pests that first appeared on domestic fruit trees in California in 2008. They have been known carriers of the disease.

Because of an HLB epidemic that descended on Florida over the last few years, the $2 billion California citrus industry appeared to be in danger after finding the case in Hacienda Heights. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), since the quarantine began in April 2012, no other cases of contaminated trees have been reported since the initial find.
According to Victoria Hornbaker, the citrus program manager for the CDFA, the CDFA is taking proactive measures to make sure any traces of the disease are identified so the virus can be contained within the quarantine boundaries.
“Within a mile and a half, every tree is getting sampled for the disease,” Hornbaker said. “We are doing a zone defense around that initial find. The initial find tree was removed and destroyed. Every host plant within 400 meters of that original find is getting tested six times a year.”
The CDFA is being thorough and cautious with how it tests trees, in order to continue the two-year-long disease-free streak. Hornnbaker states that the reason for the continued quarantine is that the disease may remain inactive for two to five years before a tree begins to show symptoms of HLB.
“Biologically, it would not be a sound decision to remove the quarantine in Hacienda Heights at this time,” said Hornbaker. “We are going to continue with the quarantine. We need to be out there…surveying and looking for plants that are showing symptoms. We are going to be sampling plants and we are also going to be collecting psyllids and testing psyllids to determine whether or not if they are positive for the bacteria.”
For those who live within the quarantine zone, the CDFA prohibits the movement of all nursery stock out of the quarantined zone, with the exception of commercially cleaned and packed citrus fruit. Fruit that is not commercially cleaned and packed, including residential citrus, is not allowed to be removed from the property on which it is grown. The CDFA also asks that residents look for symptoms of the HLB disease their trees might be experiencing. They will drop the quarantine as soon as they feel California’s citrus is safe.

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Heights residents look to help combat crime

Posted on 25 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal

After an increase in crime the last couple of months in La Habra Heights, officials at the March city council meeting discussed but did not pass an ordinance approving the posting of neighborhood watch signs throughout the city.

Community watch: A mock up of the proposed signs that will be posted throughout the LH Heights community to help deter crime.

Community watch: A mock up of the proposed signs that will be posted throughout the LH Heights community to help deter crime.

Three councilmembers felt they required more information before making a final decision on allowing the newly formed Heights Watch to post warnings to thieves throughout the city. Two other councilmembers, Michael Higgins and Kyle Miller, excused themselves from the chambers due to a possible conflict of interest. Both are a part of a foundation that supports the newly organized Heights Watch, and because of the California Political Reform Act, City Attorney Christi Hogin advised that the two councilmembers recuse themselves from the discussion.
Yet community members and officials seemed to agree that posting newly designed brown and orange signs with the trademarked “Boris the Burglar” logo around the neighborhood could have an effect in warding off would be thieves.
“A criminal who enters a neighborhood and sees a well-organized neighborhood watch is bound to go to an easier place,” Higgins said after the meeting. “And this is why I feel it is vital that we have an active and robust watch system in the Heights.”
Members of the community voiced the same concern.
“You can’t have too many eyes and ears in our community,” said resident Kathy Sauble.
Although everyone seemed to agree that solutions are needed to repel theft, the council was apprehensive.
One concern with the new signage is the planned whereabouts. Nobody seemed to have an answer as to where the new signs would be placed. Also, according to Heights Watch member Rich McClish, the group had not asked the National Sheriff’s Association for permission to use the trademarked Boris the Burglar symbol on the signs.
The discussion for more neighborhood safety programs comes after teenagers from a local high school allegedly broke into a La Habra Heights mansion last November, partied and stole items including a $250,000 mounted snow leopard. The act, which made national news, was caught on camera. The suspects were taken into police custody during school hours and will be arraigned in court this week.
But more recently, residents have had their mail allegedly stolen and ransacked from local mailboxes.
“Most people don’t report it,” said Mayor Roy Francis, who also had his mail stolen.
Some residents fear the crimes are the result of gang members in the area, or criminals recently released from California state prisons because of overcrowding.

This is all unknown. But what is known are the feelings of frustration, fear and anger that victims of these crimes experience and the desire to stop the crimes from happening. Early in February, video surveillance showed a suspect calmly strolling to the front of a house  belonging to McClish’s  neighbor and throwing a brick through the window. The man took what he wanted from the house then calmly walked away.
The same suspect allegedly returned to the same house 30 minutes later and stole more items.
“We’ve gotten lazy, at least on my street, at identifying who lives on the street and who’s casing our street,” McClish said about implementing the new Heights Watch program. “Signage is critical.”
Statistics released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department show a crime upswing in the Heights, but not by much. According to preliminary data released by the LASD on its website, property crime rates in La Habra Heights rose by .2 percent when compared to 2013, so far.
There have been two reported burglaries in 2014 compared to one reported incident at this time last year. Overall in 2013, there were 33 reported burglaries and 21 reported larceny theft incidents in the Heights. So far this year, there have been three incidents, as opposed to two incidents this time last year.

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