Congresswoman Judy Chu of the 27th District says there will be no fees for businesses, cities or residences create a proposed National Recreation Area (NRA) around the San Gabriel River and the San Gabriel Mountains, and that all water rights will remain intact and unaffected.
Speaking to attendees of this morning’s Government Affairs Forum (Sept. 5) at the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, sponsored by Expedia, after being introduced by Forum chairman Jack Orswell (and recent political opponent in the last election), Chu also discussed her support of the Gold Line being extended all the way to Ontario Airport and touted yesterday’s ribbon-cutting opening of a new local Small Business Development Center at Pasadena City College, which she championed.
Government Affairs Forum sponsorCustom-made cookies were provided by new Chamber member Rosie Ocana of Rosebud Cookie Company, and Orswell presented a custom-made wine glass to Congresswoman Chu with an engraving of the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce logo. The glass was prepared for the occasion by new Chamber member Glenn Oyoung of Turn 3 Creative.
<Story continues below the following photo gallery from this morning’s Forum…>[flagallery gid=142]
The NRA is a designation given to lands around reservoirs to create and safeguard recreational opportunities and help ensure sustainable management. Chu is writing legislation for the proposed NRA that would move that area of the forest from the National Forest Service to the administration of the National Park Service in order to generate more funding and help create walking paths, bike paths, improve signage, provide funding for better maintenance and cleanliness of the forests, and increase education about the environment.
“The San Gabriel Mountains could be the signature monument for the San Gabriel Valley,” she said, noting that the mountains draw more than 3 million visitors each year. But the National Forest Service has a limited budget and resources that allow the entity to focus primarily on fighting fires. As a result, parking is inadequate and trails are littered with trash and not kept in good repair. The current area is considered a “donor area,” Chu said, noting that for every $1 given to the federal government we receive only .78-cents in return. The NRA would drive more federal funds to our area, she said. The administration of the NRA would be a partnership including local representatives. She is accepting input from the public.
“The history of the Southwest is written in water,” Arcadia City Councilman Bob Harbicht said to Chu. “We’re concerned about the affect on our water rights.”
“There is no way I would support anything that would deplete our water supply or make us dependent on importing more water from outside sources,” Chu responded. To questions from Forum co-chair Mary Dougherty about pollution of water by boaters, and to a question from Chamber CEO Scott Hettrick about potential fees for businesses and others, Chu said, “There will be no boating or kayaking on reservoirs owned by L.A. Public Works,” and there will be no fees at all for anyone, except potentially higher user fees than the current forest adventure pass.
Chu, who was elected in 2009, serves on the House Small Business Committee, where she is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access and a member of the Subcommittees on Contracting and Workforce and Investigations. Of the SBDC, Chu said businesses in the San Gabriel Valley will now be able to take advantage of the one-on-one counseling services of the SBDC and get help with business legal issues, marketing, planning and other small business owner concerns. “The SBDC is the most successful element of the Small Business Administration,” she proclaimed.
A satellite SBDC office is in San Gabriel with another being considered for the University of La Verne.
Regarding the Gold Line, Chu, who was one of three Congressional reps instrumental in getting funding of the extension through Arcadia to Azusa and was a speaker at last month’s 10-year anniversary celebration of the Gold Line, believes the effort to get the Gold Line funded all the way to Ontario Airport will be aided by new Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti. She also believes its important for Los Angeles to refocus support of the airport itself.
In other monthly reports:
- Arcadia City Councilman Bob Harbicht and Economic Development Manager Jerry Schwartz said that what was once a big hole in Chicago Park, an industrial area of Arcadia off Lower Asuza Road east of Peck Road, is close to being filled and it is a potential for business development.
Rusnak Arcadia Mercedes dealership property is expected to close escrow by the end of the year, at which time the dealership can begin its $10 million expansion and new build a new showroom on Santa Anita Ave.
- Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Authority representative Sylvia Beltran reported that First Avenue will be closed at Santa Clara for the next six months beginning Monday, Sept. 9 to build the only grade-level street crossing of the Gold Line, and that nearby Front Street will be permanently closed Sept. 17 and buildings along the street razed to make room for the two-level parking garage and transit plaza adjacent to the new Gold Line station. She also noted that six miles of sound barrier walls are being built along the entire 11.5 mile extension from Pasadena to Azusa.
- Monrovia Arcadia Duarte Town Council representative Linda Sells reported a Quality of Life survey was done by the Sheriff Department last month. The Town Council is also organizing a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course. This 21-hour course educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area, plus training in basic disaster response skills.
- Chamber CEO Scott Hettrict noted that following last month’s vote by property owners in the Downtown Arcadia area surrounding First Avenue and Huntington Drive to create a Community Benefits District, a meeting has been set to elect an interim board of directors to create the non-profit entity and begin marketing initiatives. The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at Matt Denny’s Ale House. All property and business owners in the area are invited.
The next Government Affairs Forum is set for 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 at the Chamber, with featured guest speaker Chelsea Minor from KP Public Affairs representing initiatives recommended for California’s recovery by the California Business Roundtable.