Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For The Person Who Has Everything

Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone special? Or do you need to buy a gift for someone who seems to already have everything?

No more wandering the aisles of your neighborhood pharmacy or AutoZone, just type in 'www.pomonastore.com' and your gift-giving worries will float away.

If you forget the address, you can also access the site from the city of Pomona webpage.

Happy shopping!!

Beautifying Pomona

Pomona Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring another Pomona Beatification Day. It's set for May 10. You can sign up for a variety of volunteer options, ranging from donations to physical labor. I can't really understand why this event isn't being better advertised. The Chamber's website has a signup form which references school involvement, but I haven't heard anything from Lincoln or Cortez. Furthermore, I haven't seen any flyers, banners, etc. promoting the event. Even on the Chamber's website, the event qualifies for only a two-line reference, in black print. To find it, you'd have to avoid being transfixed by the rather large "State of the City" link AND its picture of Norma Torres.

Anyone seen any effort to promote this event?

Other tidbits in the city:

While looking over the Chamber's newsletter, I noticed Reyna Hernandez from the Watt Companies is also the Treasurer of the Pomona Chamber of Commerce. I'm curious if she's been active in the Pomona's Chamber prior to this year or is this an effort by the Watt Company to show its commitment to the city. If she has time, maybe the Goddess of Pomona can sleuth this one out for us.

I've been looking at the 'For Sale' sign at the former location of the Brasserie Astuce restaurant, with increasing wonderment over what the Raymond Fong and his Redevelopment Team might bring in to generate much needed sales tax revenue for the city of Pomona. After all, this retail corridor is important enough to justify an eminent domain threat against several business not far from this location. I would think buying the land outright from a willing seller would make sense. So what revenue-generating business are we going to see........a church. The former site of a viable business on one of our major commercial streets is becoming a church. A couple of years back, the large building at 275 Foothill, west of the Brasserie Astuce location, was a revenue-generating fitness club. Now it's also a church.

If you recall in a past post, I listed the three most common buildings you'll find in the city of Pomona are pharmacies, churches, and auto supply stores. Any chance I can hit a trifecta, by the city suggesting a future tenant of the proposed redevelopment at Towne and Foothill will be an auto supply store.

Monday, April 28, 2008

the puppy dog that wouldn't wag its tail

As I've mentioned before, my desk is in front of a window facing the street, so as I'm reading email etc., I can see what's going on in the nabe.

And what's going on this morning is missionaries. Lots of 'em. They appear to be led by a stuffy-looking guy in a short-sleeved white shirt and black tie, sporting a silver pompadour. His troops are all well-dressed church ladies, canvassing the neighborhood in pairs. All in all, they look like they were teleported from a small town in Kansas, straight from the church social (after they set their jello ring molds and Campbell's-soup casseroles down on the pot-luck table).

I saw two ladies head up our driveway, so I went into the living room to answer the door when they rang... except they didn't ring. One raised her hand as if she was knocking, but she didn't knock. So I didn't answer.

They stood there chatting (about someone they were worried about, from what I overheard) for 30 seconds and then left.

It kind of brings home the plight of the proselytizer. Imagine your pompadoured preacher insisting that you go bang on doors of a monday morning, when you know full well that anyone who answers either has their own church or doesn't wanna hear it. I'd fake-knock too.

Of course, that didn't keep K. from suggesting that they were actually casing the joint and that I should call the police.

The image is from the MormonChic website, which cracked me up (although these weren't Mormons, judging by their sandals). Who knew that suede was so unacceptable?

Butterflys Everywhere

OK, for me this is a VERY light post. But, has anyone else noticed the large number of Monarch Butterflies on their annual migration this year?

On both Saturday and Sunday morning our front yard gardens were covered with hundreds (maybe thousands) of Monarch butterflies. Walking anywhere near the front yard caused a virtual swarm of beautiful black and orange to flitter all around you. It was truly amazing.

The Real Power of Blogs

If you haven't been following it, there has been a fire raging in the foothills above Sierra Madre for the past couple of days. I've been really impressed with the coverage of the fire on The Foothill Cities Blog.

It must be remembered that bloggers are not being paid to do this. However, the contributors of the FCB have done an very admirable job in giving the community (and the wider community as well) a very good picture of what's going on. This coverage is so much better than any of the local media has given because it is being reported by those who are directly affected.

I salute the contributors at the Foothill Cities Blog. They show that blogging is more than just a bunch of complainers venting at their local governments. They ARE concerned citizens, who like most concerned citizens, rally together in times of trouble.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Events for 4/25 to 5/1

This weekend the Fairplex has a public car auction, Prime Time Dance competition, Rabbit show, Tennessee Walking Horse Show, and Championship Off-Road Racing.

Friday: 4/25
Pomona Police Sobriety Checkpoint???? This one's for K.
Fairplex events

Saturday: 4/26
Farmer's Market @ First Baptist Parking Lot
Black Culture Festival @ Pomona Public Library 12-4PM info
Family Fun Days "Doorway to the World" @ Cal Poly Downtown Center 1-4PM info
Fairplex events

Sunday: 4/27
Fairplex events

Tuesday: 4/29
Campus Community mixer @ the Kellogg House on Cal Poly Campus info
Pomona Library:
Homework Center 4-6PM and Story Time 10:15AM

Wednesday: 4/30
US Naturalization Ceremony @ the Fairplex
Joint Concert of the Pomona Concert Band and Garey HS Band info
Pomona Library: Homework Center 4-6PM and Grandparents and Books 3:30-4:30
Downtown Farmer's Market

Thursday: 5/1
Police Community Engagement Meeting 4:30-6:30PM info
Pomona Library: Homework Center 4-6PM

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

deep thoughts

Does anyone know how long Sherwood Florist (at the corner of Foothill and IHB in Claremont) has been around? More to the point, does it predate or postdate 1987? Because that's when Black Canary and Green Arrow move to Seattle and open a shop named Sherwood Florist -- built of stones in order to look like a castle (Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters #1).

Yes, David Allen has Ishmael, Ahab, and the adorable Queequeg; me, I've got Dinah Lance, Oliver Queen, and Ra's al Ghul.

takes a ribbing and keeps on fibbing

The Daily Bulletin has the latest in the X-Alv story. It just gets loonier with every installment! I swear, this guy should take his show to Vegas -- he'd be an enormous hit.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mills Act Passes Council / Alternative Materials Policy Maintained

From last night's city council meeting:

The Alternative materials question was debated with most of the public comment in favor of maintaining standards for historic homes in the districts. The final outcome was a 3-1 vote in favor of the HPC's recommendation that they be allowed to review materials on a case-by-case basis. Councilmembers Rodriquez and Carrizossa voted against. This will allow the HPC to review materials so that if at some time in the future a truly superior material is presented, they can consider its use. Councilmember George Hunter noted that this appeared to be the best alternative as it gave the HPC the flexibility that it needed to make good decisions.

Our own Meg spoke eloquently in favor of historic vs. new, even arguing that one would still want to preserve the old family printed bible even though the new digital version had "advanced features," was more compact, and easier to read. I loved the analogy.

Vice Mayor Stephen Atcheley gave a strong show of support, stating that it is important that a hundred years from now that we can look back and say that we took care of our historic properties and have maintained them in historically accurate manner.

Dan McIntire discussed an article that appeared in the Sunday LA Time by an architect saying that the problems with vinyl windows and siding (giving off fumes for years, creating dioxin when burned, and when they are replaced--usual lifespan of 15 years--they go into landfills where they don't degrade). He also noted that wood and other historic materials are just better, concluding that the only advantage of vinyl building products is that they are cheaper.

The Mills Act, was also debated and most of the council agreed that it would be a good program to encourage people to upgrade and maintain their historic homes. Councilmember Carrizossa, had concerns about the amount of property tax money that might be lost to the city's general fund and how the city would ensure that the city's best interests were maintained. John Mendoza spoke about the need to ensure that those who entered into Mills Act contracts completely undertand all ramification, noting that it's not something for nothing.

The application fee question was clarified, with the explanation that the proposed fee was to be .1% of the value of the property (for a $500,000 home that would be $500) and that the maximum $2,400 would only apply to large commercial projects which would potentially be in that price range. Meg once again spoke as a new member of the community and stated that she would be more than happy with the fee (so if you think it's too much, blame Meg :-))

The Mills Act passed with a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Carrizossa voting against, stating that she had concerns about the program. Mayor Torres wasn't there for the entire meeting and Councilmember Rothman left prior to either of these items being discussed.

Hypothetical Fleecing of Pomona

I'm a little irked, so using the the term fleecing makes me feel better.

Here's the hypothetical problem: In my little hypothetical world, I do believe I may have witnessed a hypothetical city council member donating hypothetical city funds to a hypothetical public school. Normally, I wouldn't consider this hypothetical gesture a major hypothetical problem. In fact, I would probably jump up and down in glee, hypothetically that is, because I'm an ardent supporter of public schools, whether my kids', your kids', or some hypothetical kids'. The problem, you see, is that my hypothetical city doesn't have a whole lot of money and the hypothetical school district in my city isn't flush with cash either. So I was a little shocked to hear a hypothetical council member giving our hypothetical city funds to a hypothetical school in another hypothetical school district. I could understand if the other hypothetical school district was in dire straits, or if he was using his own hypothetical money, but neither of these were true. So instead I sat in my, not quite so hypothetical, uncomfortable chair stewing over the reality that despite my city's hypothetical school district facing a real budget crisis, some of our limited hypothetical city funds will now go to enrich the fundraising pot of another city's hypothetical public school.

I'm sure glad this was all just hypothetical.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I swan

Claremont Insider covered this fully today, so there's no real reason for me to post at all, except that Xavier Alvarez done outdid hisself.

I'm sure you're aware that he was censured by his fellow members of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District Board for having lied about the state of his marriage in order to get health insurance for his ex-wife.

The other night, he attempted to persuade them to remove the censure, using the argument that he was merely following orders -- the orders of the Catholic Church. Moreover, according to X-Alv, to disagree with his position is to disrespect religion as a whole (although he showed his open-mindedness by adding "That's your prerogative").

Now, I'm no theologian, but my understanding is that the Catholic Church takes a dim view of divorce. What about that following orders now, hm?

There's probably a long philosophical investigation to be made into X-Alv's tendency to connect unquestionable authorities (the armed services, the Church) with lying, but I have other things to do with my saturday afternoon.

"I swan" is what my father said to express complete amazement. As for the pikkie, that's Pope Pius XII, another Catholic who had certain problems with the military and a selective approach to God's commands.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pomona Events week of 4/18-4/24

Goddess of Pomona has additional events.

Friday 4/18:

**Teen Dance
  • La Casita Teen Center 6PM-8PM (collaboration with Community Engagement Group)
**Fairplex Events:
Saturday 4/19:
**Inland Valley Hope Partners Farmer's Market
  • 7:30-11:30AM @ Pomona First Baptist parking lot
**Healthy Kids day at the YMCA
**Fairplex Events: A DIY, animal lover, and geek weekend
** Pomona Catholic, Damien, St. Lucy's Prom (just tossin' it out for you)

Sunday 4/20:
**Fairplex Events: A DIY, animal lover, and geek weekend

Monday 4/21:
**City Council Meeting (Agenda)

Tuesday 4/22: EARTH DAY
**Community Life Commission(Agenda)
**PUSD Board Meeting (7:30PM Board Room @ 800 S. Garey Ave)(Agenda)
  • Final round of questioning of the five finalists for the vacant School Board position
**Pomona Library
  • Story Time 10:15 a.m. (Preschool and Toddlers Ages 2-5)
Wednesday 4/23:
**Planning Commission (Agenda) (Map)
  • another Rite Aid on Garey
**Administrative Professionals Day (Secretaries Day!)
**Pomona Library
  • Homework Center 4-6PM
  • Grandparents and Books 3:30 -4:30 p.m. Grandparents read aloud to children of all ages
Thursday 4/24:
**Pomona Library

Upcoming events:
Pomona Concert Band joint concert with Garey HS Band April 30th @ Garey High School
Pomona Chamber of Commerce may be doing a Pomona City-wide Beautification day on May 10

monday, monday --

If you're interested in the Mills Act discussion at monday's city council meeting, here is the agenda item as it appears on the web. (Should you not get the document itself, drill down to 4/17/08 -- which is not the date of the meeting but perhaps the posting date.) This information comes courtesy of Our John, not surprisingly.

My private gripe: The dates, time, and place of the city council meetings appear nowhere on the city's website. It's almost as if they don't want us there (ya think?).

grocery notes from all over

Yes, boys and girls, it's time for another installment in the Exciting Shopping Adventures of Meg!

The other day I finally checked out Fresh & Easy on Mountain and Arrow in Montclair. In case you missed the hubbub in the press and the local blogosphere when they opened back in the fall, F&E is a venture by Tesco, the British supermarket chain, aimed at busy people stopping on their way home from work.

After the initial fizz, I've heard a fair amount of grumbling about F&E, so I was pleasantly surprised by certain things, even if my low expectations were met in other ways.

High points: Good prices on some things (hummus -- which was much better than the usual storebought -- broccoli, fancy bread, dried pasta). Oil-roasted tomatoes like the ones that are so popular in the UK. Provenance labeling of all their fish ("line-caught in the North Sea"; "farmed in Chile"). European yogurts (but, sadly, no rhubarb flavor). Various products you'd never expect to see, like Spanish chorizo.

Low points: The same cheeses you'd get at Von's. Wine selection and prices very ehhhh. Underwhelming ready-meals (despite the fact that that's what English supermarkets do so well).

One more thing: The ingredient lists of anything prepared are a breath of fresh air. Not only are they completely lacking in what a friend calls "shampoo ingredients" (synthesized compounds that could just as easily be on a bottle of shampoo, like PGPR), but they also lack the "natural" ingredients we don't have in our homes, like guar gum and carageenan. Everything I looked at only contained the stuff I would use to make the item in my own kitchen. And I didn't find a single F&E product that contained high fructose corn syrup! Not surprising, given the UK's lack of a giant corn industry + subsidy, but it's still a welcome change.

Overall, there's a place for F&E in my shopping adventures, although only if I'm out that way anyhow. A lot of folks were disappointed when F&E opened that it didn't serve up a whole host of British delicacies (and not-so-delicacies), but I'm surprised at the little ways in which the Britishness expresses itself.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mills Act is NOT a Tax on Historic Districts

I guess we live too far on the edge of Lincoln Park. I received a couple of emails about a flyer that was being passed out in the district (but not on my street) warning residents of a new TAX that was going to be discussed at next Monday's city council meeting. The flyer is attributed to John Mendoza, who has run a series of petition drives for various subjects and was a candidate for School Board in the last election.

His scare flyer is wrong on many of the details, although to his credit he did include the notice for the issue.

Monday's meeting actually does include two items of importance to the residents of Lincoln Park as well as the other two districts, but it's NOT a new tax. The Mills Act was created as the main tool by the state to encourage owners of historic properties to renovate and maintain their property in a historically accurate manner. The Act allows property owners to enter into contracts with the city whereby the property will be taxed, not by the value of the property, but as if it were a rental business. This can result in tax savings of up to 60% depending on the assessed value of the property and the rental rates within the area.

In exchange for the property tax savings, the property owner agrees to use those savings to do an approved (within the contract) number of renovation projects. The idea is that this is a win-win as the property owner can use tax savings to improve the property and the city ensures that their historic properties are maintained in a historically accurate manner.

Pomona has had the Mills Act in place for some time. However, the original city version of the act was so restrictive that we only have three current contracts in the city. Pomona's Mills Act requirements were much more difficult than any of the surrounding cities. Pomona Heritage worked hard with city staff to review and revisit the act and to see how it could be improved to make it a better tool for historic Pomona.

The version of the Act that passed the Historic Preservation Commission will greatly enhance the way that Mills Act contracts are done in Pomona. Monday's meeting does have a twist that had not previously been discussed. Under the current Pomona version of the Act there is no fee. However state law allows cities to charge an application fee to recoup the costs of processing Mills contracts. The City Clerk has determined that cost to be around $2,400. Pomona Heritage is concerned that this upfront cost would be onerous, and hope to argue at Monday's meeting that the fee be more in line with other cities in the area whose fees range from nothing to under $500.

The other issue on Monday's agenda will be the use of alternative materials in the historic districts. This is an issue that was supposed to be discussed in the study sessions that were postponed and then canceled. So this will be the first opportunity that the council will have to hear this issue, and they're planning on voting on a policy.

If you're interested in either of these issues, we hope that you will be at the council meeting on Monday, April 21. Council meetings start at 7:00 pm in the council chambers at city hall.

Uncivilized, Yep!

I'm finding it really hard to hold my head up today. In an attempt to kill a few minutes, I typed 'Pomona' into the DB's search function and up popped a Letter to the Editor from a Claremont resident. I'll digress here, for the moment, and say that it took a few minutes JUST for the Daily Bulletin home page to load up (yeah, I could just pay the 50 cents.....or buy a new computer).

Well, back to my story. In this letter, our city (Pomona, CA not to be confused with Pomona, Kansas) was suggested to be less civilized than La Verne, Claremont, and Chino. I don't know what happened to poor Montclair--perhaps the uncivilized all look the same. From my reading, the writer seems to be genuinely concerned that our crime problem may ooze into the more dignified streets of our neighbors. And just to prove that he is a man of action, he sent a letter to our Police Chief imploring a multi-agency task force be assembled to sweep into those tough, crime-infested Pomona neighborhoods and round up all the derelict, pot-smoking, gun-totting hooligans. (He didn't actually use those words, but what the hell). And here's the real kicker, after going to all the trouble of enlightening our Police Chief on crime enforcement, the Chief didn't even have the courtesy to respond to his letter.

I just feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that at least one of our lofty neighbors to the North is looking down on us from the rarefied air of the foothills.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

free thorks

Sunday K & I decided to finally try (disquisition on the bogosity of the split-infinitive rule available upon request) Three Forks. I believe that we are the last human beings in the West Inland Empire to go there.

We ran into friends who live in Village Walk, the condos right next to 3F, as we moseyed to the restaurant. When we told them we were planning on trying the Farmers Market Dinner (a sunday special every week -- three courses for $45), they put on brave smiles and bid us goodbye as if we were heading off to a tax audit or a biopsy. Apparently the Farmers Market Dinner is precisely what NOT to have at 3F (she told me afterward).

Our verdict: Okay. Pretty good for the 909. Ambitious (and it took me three years in college to realize that when a professor wrote that on my paper, it wasn't high praise).

Item by item (fine-dining alert! Food snobbery ahead!):

• The amuse bouche (the little mouthful that starts the meal) was "shrimp toast with paprika aioli." It was perfectly fine, but it was a bit odd, in that it was a little wedge of rustic European baguette that tasted like Chinese shrimp toast. I think they must have infused some olive oil with Chinese dried shrimp... but why? Just for the pun of shrimp toast on toast?

• The starter was a panzanella (bread salad). This one had baby spinach, grape tomatoes, frisée, small chunks of olive bread, shaved parmesan, and a couple of slices of beefsteak tomato. It was tasty, although the beefsteak tomato was an embarrassment (think supermarket tomatoes in winter). I thought the dressing was a bit sweet, but K, who is a carb-based life form, insisted that it was no such thing.

• For his main, K had the wild boar and wild mushroom manicotti. It was pretty darn good, although I would have used a different tomato sauce. This one was cooked down too much, so that it had lost all the brightness of the tomato, and again, it was too sweet (and this time K agreed with me).

• For my main, I had the chicken piccata. I would have ordered the manicotti, except that we have a policy of not ordering the same thing. The flavors of the chicken piccata were excellent -- strong enough, which can be a major pitfall for this dish -- but the breading of the chicken had obviously been done hours earlier, so that instead of crusty goodness, the paillard of chicken seemed to be coated in kindergarten paste. They must have flattened that chicken breast with road-building equipment, though, because it was huge -- easily the size of a comic book. I gave a third to K, ate a third, and had the last third for lunch yesterday.

• Dessert was where they really fell down on the job. They promised panna cotta, but what we got was a super-gelatinized Asian-style custard that had no dairy taste whatsoever. It was so rubbery that if you pulled at it with your spoon, it formed rips and tears. My best guess at its construction is that it used about four times as much gelatin as real panna cotta, plus a little milk and perhaps a tablespoon of flour to provide a cloudy appearance. The macerated strawberries and balsamic vinegar reduction (a classic panna cotta combination) could not save this jellied mess.

Service was perfectly fine, although in classic New Mall fashion, it was more friendly than clueful. Frankly, when you're spending $90 on a hunk of meat, serving from the left and removing from the right doesn't seem like too much to ask. Or am I showing my age?

The hostess gets a special mention, because she seemed to have trouble understanding the concept of a reservation when we called up, and once we got there, neither one of us could take our eyes off her comically-large rack whenever she walked past.

Obviously we need to go back for meat (meatmeatmeatmeat) in order to get the true Three Forks experience, but that may be a while: we need to replenish the bank account first.

Update: How could I have forgotten to mention the music? That was one place they scored big with us. It was just loud enough to recognize some of your favorite songs -- early Neil Young for me, the Replacements for K. When was the last time you heard either one of those in a restaurant, I ask you -- much less a restaurant quite pleased with itself for being both hoity and toity.

The frontispiece is of Sacajawea pointing the way to Three Forks for Lewis & Clark. Yes, really.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Taste of the Pomona Valley

A heads up for anyone interested in tasting Pomona Valley cuisine.

The event is tonight from 5-8PM at the Avalon Pavilion in the Fairplex. If you procrastinated buying your tickets it's 35 bucks. It's brought to you by the Pomona Chamber of Commerce.

Can anyone toss me some insight on why it's held on a Monday night? I'm sure there's a good reason, but a Saturday late afternoon event might generate more interest..........maybe as a prelude to the Second Saturday Art Walk. Just sticking my nose into other people's business, so feel free to smack me down.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Visual Clarification Of Foothill Towne

Some more visual clarification (you can click on the images to get a better view) on what’s going on at the corner of Foothill and Towne.

Here is the corner we’re talking about from Google Maps Streetview:

Note that Walgreens is on the Northwest corner, with 7-11 on the Southwest corner. Next to 7-11 is Giovanni’s and just beyond that is Coates. The plan calls for the purchase and demolition of 7-11, Giovanni’s, and Coates, with the added property just beyond Coates which is currently a vacant lot.

Here’s what the site looks like in the MND documentation:

The plan that is presented in the MND shows Walgreens moving to where 7-11 and the nini-car wash are now: (the mini car wash is just to the north on Towne) with only three new stores and lots of parking (this image is also from the MND report):

Does this look like a project we want at that intersection. There are no commitments for the three retail spaces shown at this time. So we’d be replacing three going businesses with three unknowns and moving Walgreens. And for this we need to use eminent domain?

Sylvanus and Pomona

We have a tree that needs to come down (yes, I know all about getting permits, don't worry -- and I'll probably post about the agonies thereof at a later date).

Does anyone have an arborist/tree service to recommend? We've talked to Alpine, and they seem quite good, but we'd like to talk to at least one more before we pull the trigger. I'll just attack the phone book if necessary, but I'd prefer to have recommendations from friends, neighbors, and countrymen.

[Sylvanus, if you'd forgotten all that mythology you learned in grade school, is the Roman god of trees.]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

journalism spotlight of the day

First, your orthography less of the day, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:

TROOP, n. 1 a: a group of soldiers b: a cavalry unit corresponding to an infantry company cplural : armed forces, soldiers 2: a collection of people or things : crew 3: a flock of mammals or birds 4: the basic organizational unit of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts under an adult leader.

TROUPE, n. a group of theatrical performers

TROUP. The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the search bar above.

Now for some journalism, courtesy of the Daily Bulletin:
Group of Adult Muslims Learn to Form Troups

I'll forgive them for opting out of definition (4) above -- can you imagine the uproar engendered by a headline that mentioned Muslims forming troops? I prefer the theatrical metaphor for scouting over the military metaphor myself, although given the BSA's atavistic no-queers-and-no-godless-heathens policy, the military metaphor is closer to the truth.

But I'm not letting them off the hook for the spelling mistake. Actually, now that I think of it, perhaps we should see this as a work of brilliance: Who else could cram a spelling mistake AND a subject-verb disagreement into eight short words?

Under ordinary circumstances, at this point I would launch into spittle-flinging invective about the real reasons for the decline of print journalism, punctuated by the example of the Daily Journal sacking its entire copy desk, but I really need to get some work done today, before I get sacked myself.

dining about town

The people I work with really love Los Jarritos II (no one ever talks about LJ-I, although it's not that far from the office). As far as I'm concerned, it's perfectly fine, but nowhere as good as GuaSalMex (on Holt, between Garey and Park) or even Casa Jimenez (I or II).

But I've never had a celebrity spotting at GuaSalMex or C-Jim, as we did the other night when dining at Los Jarritos II with friends from work. Who should walk in but Xavier Alvarez? At first I thought it was just some random Latino guy with a similar 'stache, but when he started glad-handing acquaintances like a politician, I realized he had to be the mustachioed misappropriator and Torres protegé (Torregé?) himself. Wow, a celebrity right here in Pomona! I didn't hear him make any bombastic claims about military service, but he certainly had the swagger.

Another night we went to Vince's Spaghetti Shack with Admiral Seamus and Mrs. Tiki. I've passed it many times (it's on Holt just past Mountain, and there are also branches in Rancho and Torrance) and wanted to try it, and I'm glad we did.

Vince's isn't fine dining (and we are big fans of fine dining), but it's good food and good fun. If you haven't been and if you have no pretensions (or if, like us, you can compartmentalize your pretensions), you should go sometime. For $10, you get a half order of spaghetti (which would be an order and a half anywhere else), beef barley soup, a side salad, and a day's calories' worth of garlic bread. For an extra $12, you can add a liter of decent chianti.

The spaghetti is pretty good, although I would recommend getting a side of cheese -- the sauce is a bit sweet, and the cheese balances it out. But get a smaller side than you think you need; the four of us didn't use up the heaping "cup" (read: 3 c.) of cheese we got for the table.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Foothill / Towne Project

Yesterday, Monday April 7, there was an ad in the legal section of the Daily Bulletin that the city of Pomona had issued a Negative Declaration for the project at Foothill and Towne. This is a project that the Redevelopment Department is working on for the Southwest corner.

First: The project, as proposed is basically a strip center, anchored by Walgreens (currently located across the street in the Staples/CVS center. Walgreens, as a corporate policy, prefers to have their stores located on corner lots and they're somewhat mid-block across the street. The project is to be built by Lewis Homes and the city is in the process of "assembling" the property for this private developer. Please note that this is not a school, a library, a civic building, or a roadway, but a private development.

The reason that I mention that it's a private development, is that the reason that the city has prepared environmental documents, before there are any entitlements, is that this project is planning to use eminent domain to force the sale of the property. The properties that we're talking about are a mini-car wash, 7-11 store, Coates Cyclery, and Giovanni's Men's Suits. All of these appear to be thriving businesses and would not be what I would consider "blight" (one of the requirements for using eminent domain for redevelopment), however there are other properties within the site, the vacant motorhome sales site especially, which could be considered blighted and the argument will be made that the project requires the other properties to be viable and eliminate the blighted area.

While the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Kelo v. City of New London , No. 04-108 on June 24, 2005 that this is legal, as the increase in property taxes is a benefit to the community, I have some serious problems with this particular project.

First, the project will move Walgreens from a location across the street. This would not appear to increase taxes but shift them from one parcel to another. In talking with city staff, it appears that they're working with Giovanni's to see if they can't help them with relocation funds to move them back to Covina, so taxes we're now getting, leaving the city. Then there's Coates Cyclery (there was a lively discussion of this issue on the Goddess of Pomona site back in January), who have been doing business in Pomona since 1934 and at its current location since the mid '50s. They are basically being forced out of their business. They have been offered space in the new center (subject to an agreement with the new owners, Lewis Homes) but it would be at a price approximately 3x what they pay now. Here's a business that has been paying Pomona taxes for over 70 years, and now the city wants to potentially put them out of business.

I know that there are those who oppose the work that I do for historic preservation and will say that I'm a hypocrite for wanting to restrict what people can do with their property on one hand and then say the city can't develop on the other. But really, the issues are similar. I'm not suggesting that the site should be able to devolve and become blighted. I appreciate that Lewis Homes wants to do a project such as this (maybe not this exact one, but something such as this) in our city. But taking away thriving businesses (how thriving is a point of discussion, but they've been in business long enough that I'm sure they're not losing money) is something else.

While I'm not against eminent domain for public usage, I'm VERY against using it to give to a private developer. We need businesses like Giovanni's and Coates in our city. Even the 7-11 serves a useful purpose as it's right on the edge of our residential neighborhoods.

This issue will come before the city council once the 30-day environmental review is completed. If you wish to respond to the environmental impacts on traffic, noise, etc. then you can pick up a copy of the report at the Redevelopment Department and you have 30-days from yesterday.

I plan to write to the council and mayor regarding this subject and to be at the council meeting when it comes up for a vote. I'll post any updates as they become available.

Monday, April 7, 2008

RBOP: Random Bullets of Pomoniana

• Some pals conjectured last night that the four of us would make an unstoppable trivia team -- but they know of nowhere in the West Inland Empire to play trivia. Anybody know of bars that have a trivia night?

(For the record, I think they're fooling themselves -- the only sports we have covered between the four of us are cycling, horse racing, and college football. And sumo, which I hear is a very popular topic at trivia nights.)

• While I was gone, they up and numbered the exits on the 10! What I want to know is, how did Indian Hill get numbered 47?

• Koki's -- the Korean joint in the same shopping center as Pho Ha on Indian Hill -- is now Pittsburgh Chicken & Ribs. It's too bad -- I never even got a chance to try Koki's out. Every time we tried, they were closed, either for repairs after the Hummer smashed into their storefront or for mysterious reasons.

• That said, "Pittsburgh Chicken & Ribs"??? What particular claim to chicken and ribs does Pittsburgh, of all places, have?

The frontispiece is the first hit I got on the word "trivia."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

blame it on Rio

I love cafes. I love ordering them, in places where coffee's called "cafe," and I love sitting in them, whether in LaVerne or Laval.

One of my regular stops is Café Rio, next to the Vons at Foothill and White. Truth be told, the coffee was terrible, but it was quiet, comfortable, friendly, and equipped with free and dependable wi-fi. To my dismay, however, Café Rio has closed. I wouldn't argue that it deserved to stay open -- the coffee really, really stank -- but I'm going to miss it.

Can anyone suggest a non-Starbuck's replacement? Yesterday I ended up reading my book in LePainQuot, but they don't pay me enough to visit there regularly, and sometimes a girl wants to avoid Claremont Village. ARE there any other independent cafes around?

The 'H' word

Before we step too far into April, here is the distribution of March homicides for the inland area.

Just to avoid confusion here are a couple of disclosures:
  • I don't include vehicular homicides unless an arrest is likely.
  • Address locations are often approximations based on block numbers.
  • I do included police shootings.
I found the sheer number of blue spots to be overwhelming so I gave March its own map.
March 2008
Jan/Feb 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Mills Act to be discussed at HPC

I know that this is quite late in being posted, and I apologize for that. I was SURE that Ed would post with his great maps, but I guess it's up to me this month. (just giving you a hard time Ed.)

Tonight at 6:30 pm in the council chambers will be the monthly meeting of the Pomona Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). There are only two public hearings this evening. The first is the issue of the changes to a home on Preciado Street in the Hacienda Park Historic District, which has been agendized several times in the past. The second is yet another case of a homeowner, this time on Wisconsin in the Wilton Heights Historic District who put in 10 vinyl windows without a permit and now wants the city to allow it, when if they had just gotten a permit, they would have been told what they could and couldn't do.

However, there is a third item, under New Business, which is of major importance to those of us in historic districts and single historic homes. The HPC will be presented with a proposed ordinance for approval (They don't approve it, they recommend it to the city council) which will significantly change the qualifications, requirements, and terms of Mills Act contracts in the city.

This was one of the issues what was SUPPOSED to be discussed at the canceled joint Planning Commission/City Council meeting last month. The Mills Act is used to encourage preservation and maintenance of historic properties. Entering into a Mills Act contract can reduce property taxes by up to about 60%, which funds are then used by the homeowner for preservation and renovation of the subject property.

Again, this meeting potentially may have an impact on the historic districts. If you're interested in this, I encourage you to attend this meeting.

Hope to see you all there.