Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, February 26, 2011

MVNews this week:  Page 7


Mountain Views News Saturday, February 26, 2011 

Ground Breaking for 
Huntington Courts 51-
Home Redevelopment 

 City and civic officials turned out for the long awaited ground 
breaking ceremony launching phase two construction of 
Huntington Courts, a 51-home redevelopment project on 
4.42 acres on the 2100 block of Huntington Dr. in Duarte.

Owner/developer AHSU, LLC has selected Rancho 
Cucamonga based Building Worx, Inc. to build 14 two-story 
homes in phase two of the development. Set in a courtyard 
garden design, the 10 detached single family homes and one 
fourplex will range in size from 1,234 square feet to mid-
2,000 square feet. The single family homes will feature three 
to four bedrooms. The fourplex homes will each feature two 
to three bedrooms. 

Construction is set to begin by the first week in March with 
completion slated for October 2011.

Financing for the project was made possible by American 
Plus Bank in Arcadia. Rana Madain of Podley Properties is 
heading the sales team. 

The 21 homes in the first phase of Huntington Courts were 
completed in 2008. The final phase will consist of 16 homes. 
No date has been set for the start of the final phase. 

For more information or to be added to the waiting list 
contact Rana Madain at (626) 827-9951 or visit the website:

Breaking ground for 14 new homes in phase two of the Huntington Courts redevelopment project in Duarte are, from left: Manoj Patel, 
representing owner/developer AHSU, LLC; Shiraz Jivani; Parbhubhai Patel; Duarte City Manager, Darrell George; Duarte City Council 
member, Margaret Finlay; Mayor Tzeitel Paras-Caracci; Vaishali Patel; Ryan Zivelonghi, partner, Building Worx, Inc.; and Benjamin Lin, 
president of American Plus Bank. 

Mid-Year Report Reflects Impact of Lackluster Economy and State Raids

Management and Alternatives for Laurel 

Laurel sumac is a very common large shrub or small tree 
(up to 20’ high and wide) of Monrovia hillsides. Its leaves are 
curved and bent along the keel, somewhat like taco shells, 
3-5” inches long, and they have a strong, distinctive smell. 
There is a reddish tinge along many of the stems. 

Because of its deep roots and drought tolerance, laurel sumac 
is extremely beneficial for holding slopes. It also has the 
advantages of being pest and deer resistant and able to re-
sprout after fire, offering slope protection in the aftermath 
of a fire. However, because of its resins and tendency to shed 
bark and dead limbs, it can be highly combustible if not 
maintained properly.

Here are some recommendations for maintaining laurel 
sumac on your property:

Avoid laurel sumac within about 30 feet of a structure. 

When replacing a laurel sumac plant, consider one of those 
listed below. Note: The City has a limited number of free 
native plants available this month - please see details below. 

Remove dead branches and peeling bark; keep amount of 
leaf litter down to about three-inch depth.

Keep plant healthy: provide adequate sun, avoid soil 
disturbance and do not overwater. 

Choose a growth habit - either “ground-hugging” or “tree-
form”: If ground-hugging, keep it below 18 feet tall. For a 
more tree-form plant, prune it up off the ground several feet 
and thin out to create a good open branching structure. 

Break up large, continuous stands into islands. The distance 
between islands should be three times the size of the islands. 

Irrigate sparingly, if at all, and use mulch (up to three-inch 
depth) to retain soil moisture and moderate soil temperature. 

If you wish to replace a Laurel sumac, here are some 
alternative plants (scientific names provided in italics to 
assist with ordering plants):

Lemonade berry (Rhus integrifolia) - large shrub 6-10’ high 

Sugar bush (Rhus ovata) - very similar to Laurel sumac, but 
less resinous 

Holly leaf cherry (Prunus ilicifolia) - large shrub or small tree 
up to 25’ tall. 

Mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides) - large shrub 
up to 20’ tall 

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) - small tree 15-25’ tall, red 

 Although there are some less combustible alternatives to 
laurel sumac, where it exists and thrives naturally, laurel 
sumac is simply too valuable an erosion control plant to 
eliminate it entirely from the plant palette for hillside homes. 
However, do be sure to keep it “thin, clean and green!” For 
further information, please contact Rachel Wing at (626) 

City of Monrovia Community 
Wildfire Protection Plan

DUARTE, CA. Despite significant budget 
cutbacks, a hiring freeze and other cost-
saving measures implemented over the 
past several years, Duarte is estimating 
a $915,500 budget deficit by 2010-2011 
fiscal year-end. That prediction, combined 
with a growing, gnawing concern that the 
governor will succeed in his plan to strip 
cities, including Duarte, of redevelopment 
funds in an effort to pump up the state’s 
finances added up to a sobering mid-year 
budget report to the City Council on Feb. 
22. The State budget proposal to eliminate 
redevelopment if approved could add up 
to $1 million to Duarte’s structural deficit 

Total General Fund revenues are projected 
to be $11,162,300, a slight decrease of 
$34,200 or .3% as compared to the adopted 
budget. There was some positive news. Sales 
tax is expected to exceed initial projections 
for the first time in several years, $142,000 
higher than projected, but it is still more 
than $1 million below the annual sales tax 
revenues of five years ago. Plan check fees 
are projected $50,000 higher than budgeted 
due to the Huntington Courts and other 
smaller projects in the community. On the 
down side, as with other cities in California, 
business licenses, transient occupancy and 
real property transfer taxes, revenues that 
are linked to business activity and real 
estate transactions, are expected to be a 
combined $48,000 lower than budgeted. 
Interest earnings, which the City has more 
and more utilized for cash flow purposes, 
have plummeted to all time lows of earning 
less than 1 percent, reducing this source of 
projected revenue by more than $100,000.

General Fund expenditures are projected to 
be $12,077,800, an increase of $323,500 as 
compared to the adopted budget, despite a 
majority of City departments expecting to 
spend less than originally budgeted and two 
more staff positions currently being held 

One primary factor for the increased 
expenses is the current year legal expenses 
in the challenge to the Vulcan mining 
expansion, which is projected to reach 
$204,000. By the end of the fiscal year, 
the City will have spent $500,000 of the 
$700,000 Fight Against Vulcan Expansion 
fund set aside by the City Council in 2008. 

Another factor is the Citywide Lighting 
and Landscape District, which continues to 
be a substantial drain on the City’s general 
fund. The original budget had projected a 
deficit of $250,000, which is now estimated 
to reach $305,000 by year-end. Following 
the vote in the Neighborhood Districts to 
not increase revenues, adjustments have 
been made to expenses in those districts to 
bring them into balance. But the Citywide 
District continues to be out of balance and 
adds to the City’s operating deficit. Other 
revenue measures must be considered in 
the future if services are to be continued at 
the current level, said Petersen. 

Duarte currently has 43 full time employees. 
Full time staff has been reduced by 8 (16%) 
in less than two years. Positions that have 
remained vacant are Human Resources 
Manager, Code Enforcement Manager, City 
Planner, Facilities Supervisor, Recreation 
Coordinator, Redevelopment Agency 
Coordinator, IT Manager, and Field Services 
Maintenance Tech. 

“This kind of reduction in staffing has and 
will continue to result in reduced and/
or delayed services. This will make the 
prioritization of services and projects that 
much more important as we try to complete 
work with less staff,” said Petersen. 

Included in the mid year budget Council 
approved a loan repayment of $7.5 million 
from the Redevelopment Agency to the 
City. Like most California Redevelopment 
Agencies, loans were made by their cities, 
particularly in the early years of adopting 
and kick starting the project areas. Under 
the terms of the agreements, the cities may 
demand payment of all or a portion of 
the principal balance at any time as funds 
become available. As of June 30, 2010 over 
$9 million was outstanding.

“Given the current economic climate and 
the governor’s proposed elimination of 
Redevelopment the City cannot afford to 
let this loan go unpaid into the uncertain 
future,” said Petersen.

In light of ongoing State raids on 
Redevelopment Funds combined with 
stagnated revenues, the City Council has 
instructed staff to start the 2011-2012 budget 
process early. The City will be conducting its 
first budget workshop on Tuesday, March 8 
at 6 p.m. in the Community Center located 
at 1600 Huntington Dr. 

For additional information on the City 
budget, contact the Administrative Services 
Department at (626) 357-7931, ext. 211. 


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