Southern California Gas Company Public Affairs Manager Helen Romero Shaw touted natural gas as a foundation fuel for a clean and renewable energy future and that pipeline safety is a major priority at the monthly Arcadia Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Forum sponsored by Keystone 365 Sponsor Singpoli. And Enrique Rodriguez from the Office of Congressmember Judy Chu presented information on the Congresswoman’s efforts to persuade President Obama to declare federal land in the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests a National Monument, which sparked some lively conversation among the two dozen attendees in the Chamber’s refurbished conference room sponsored by Foothill Credit Union. <Story continues following the photo gallery below…>[flagallery gid=221] Helen wanted everyone to know that natural gas is abundant and that Southern California Gas Company, the largest natural gas provider in the country with more than 8,000 employees and 21 million consumers, is pursuing new technologies using gas to help reduce emissions by 90% from heavy duty trucks. In addition, pipeline safety is a big concern especially when you take into account the company has 20,000 pipelines across Southern California. As part of her PowerPoint presentation, Helen noted that the Gas Company has smart pigs that go through the gas pipelines looking for corrosion and leaks. It is part of an ongoing effort by the company to ensure the safety of its customers and the public. Helen stressed that natural gas is abundant, affordable, domestic and clean. In addition to a main speaker, all levels of government are represented at the free Forum held on the first Thursday of each month, giving Chamber members and the public a chance to hear from elected officials or their representatives. Among other highlights and reports:
- Viola Van from the Office of Congressmember Judy Chu reported that the Congresswoman recently held a very successful Job Hunters Bootcamp in Altadena.
- Enrique Robles, also with the Office of Congressmember Judy Chu, spoke about a a proposal from the Congresswoman for a National Monument. Mr. Robles stated that the monument will only be on federal land and does not extend into cities, a reduction of Chu’s proposal for the last several years to create a National Recreation Area that had created some concern by cities and businesses that would be impacted. One of the purposes of this proposal is to allocate more resources for cleaning up trash and for replenishment of heavily used areas in the Angeles and San Bernadino National Forests. When Chamber CEO Scott Hettrick noted that there was no federal funding for this project, Robles responded that Chu is proposing reallocating existing monies.
- Brian Mejia from the Office of County Supervisor Michael Antonvich reported that the Supervisor is leading a charge on the County level regarding the terrorist group ISIS or ISIL and the need for the group to be combated. In fact, the Supervisor brought a motion before the Board of Supervisors to support military efforts to suppress ISIS/ISIL. Mr. Mejia also indicated that the Supervisor is trying to raise awareness to the fact that foster children are being prescribed pyschotropic drugs in far higher levels than non-foster children. The Supervisor is highly concerned about this practice and will continue to be an advocate for foster children.
- Arcadia City Mayor Pro Tem Gary Kovacic indicated that the City is in Phase 1 of mandatory water restrictions. No watering between the hours of 10 AM – 4 PM; don’t use water to hose down driveways or sidewalks; and restaurants will not serve water to customers unless asked. In addition, the City is happy to provide any resident with a free irrigation audit of their property. The Mayor Pro Tem went on to report that the City is looking at ways to simplify zoning codes (the Chamber and Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association are assisting with this). Mr. Kovacic also reported that the summer concert and movie nights were very successful and that anyone interested in sponsoring them should contact the City. Discussion also centered on the fact that the Performing Arts Center is a quality venue for performances and is a jewel in the community. Mayor Pro Tem Kovacic wanted everyone to know that there will be the Thoroughbred Racing Walk of Champions dedication on September 27 at 6 p.m. north of Huntington Drive on First Avenue. Sixty-seven bronze plaques honoring champion horses, jockeys, trainers and owners will be officially presented for public viewing along Huntington Drive and First Avenue from 5:30 p.m. till 8 p.m. There will be live music and guided tours.
- Arcadia City Economic Development Manager Jerry Schwartz indicated that the Downtown Arcadia Improvement Association continues to meet on an on-going basis. Jerry also discussed that there will be activities related to the opening of racing that the City will be involved in and he touched on a proposal that a mixed-use development be built on a public parking lot between Santa Anita and First Avenues. The latter is a work-in-progress.
- Arcadia Unified School District Superintendent David Vannasdall reported a smooth opening to the school year. In addition, he reports that the School District has a natural gas fueling station and yard for buses. There are plans in the works to expand the fueling station. This information dove-tailed nicely with the presentation from Southern California Gas Company Public Affairs Manager Helen Romero Shaw. When prompted by Mayor Pro Tem Kovacic, the Superintendent proudly reported that the Arcadia High School football team won its first game 40-0 and encouraged everyone to come out and root the home team on Friday nights.
- Rainbow Yeung from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, based in Diamond Bar, indicated that there will be an electric vehicle event from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 20, at the headquarters at the intersection of 57 and 60 Freeways. There will be a chance to ride in and drive all types of electric vehicles. She also informed the attendees that there are probably 15 days between November and February when the there is a wood-burning ban in effect. Residents are asked to check before they burn during these months. In fact the SCAQMD has a program where you can replace your wood burning fireplace with natural gas.
Next month’s Government Affairs forum speaker on Oct. 2 will be the City of Arcadia’s Assistant City Manager and Development Services Director Jason Kruckeberg at 8 a.m. at the Chamber office, 388 W. Huntington Drive. The public is invited on the first Thursday of each month to hear informative presentations at the monthly Government Affairs Forum sponsored by Singpoli and led by Chairman Jack Orswell from Orswell & Kasman, Inc. Environmental Assessments & Consulting, and co-chairman Pete Ulrich, former Arcadia City Councilman. RSVPs to the Chamber of Commerce office are appreciated – (626) 447-2159 or info@ArcadiaCAChamber.org.