ALHAMBRA – Ed Netka says that in Sierra Acura of Alhambra, “The
customer is always right.” Those are welcome words to anyone and a large reason
why his dealership has one of the highest customer satisfaction scores in the
nation, when it comes to Acura dealerships nationwide, scoring 98.4 out of a
possible 100 points.
Acura in Southern California has its historical roots as far
back as the early 20th century, when Paul Hoffman began selling cars
in 1908. Paul would begin selling Studebakers in 1910 in Los Angeles (he began
in Chicago). At the age of 21, he won a national sales contest, selling 26 cars
in six weeks. His prize was $100.
Paul would later meet John M. Studebaker and would serve as
president of Studebaker from 1935 to 1948. He helped pioneer the Studebaker car
in the late 1940s, a car that was inspired by the horse and carriage, only more
futuristic looking. And he would later serve as the managing director of the
United Nations Development Program.
His grandson, Peter Hoffman, has since 1987 operated and owns
the Alhambra branch. His father’s name is Lanthrope G. Hoffman. Another
integral part of the Alhambra branch has been Alvin Trinh, who has been a
leader in the company for 13 years.
The big three auto companies, however, squeezed out the
earlier Hoffman and his innovative ideas. But today they remain strong. They
are number three in the district that includes the area surrounded by Covina,
Ventura and Cerritos. In addition they are the number 11 dealership in the zone
that is composed of California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona.
Netka said that 2009 was a challenging year for them, with
the increase in sales tax and DMV fees. But he said that Acura has weathered
the storm, although challenges still remain. Once having as many as 175 cars,
the dealership now has 100. And for those who think this might diminish the
quality, look no further than the 2010 ZDX, a car with bold styling, advanced
safety technology and a designer who studied at Pasadena’s Art Center and
Acura is the only company that produces cars on the market
that have a 5-star rating, determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration. They have also won numerous awards for styling and design.
By Liz Hezlep
evening was perfect for GLAZA’s 40th Annual Beastly Ball held Saturday June
19th at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens to honor entertainment icon
Betty White, a longtime GLAZA supporter and Trustee. The event raised
$1,191,461 for the Zoo.
named Ambassador to the Animals of the City of Los Angeles by Mayor Villaraigosa in 2006 for
her dedication to the care of, and loving concern for, all animals. She readily
admits, ”I love this zoo with all my heart…I’ve been a zoo lover all my
In a March
2010 interview she discussed “her 46 year partnership with the Los Angeles Zoo,
calling it one of her two loves in life, alongside show business.”
to Glaza president Connie Morgan of La Canada,
“Betty White is synonymous with the Los
Angeles Zoo…and honoring her is our great joy.”
John Lewis agreed,”Betty is truly one of the greatest fans of the LA Zoo… she
knows our animals and staff on a first name basis and when she’s not on
television or in a movie you can usually find her here at the zoo.”
Pauley Perrette served as emcee for the evening’s program which included video
tributes to White by Jay Leno, Alex Trebek, Jane Goodall, Craig Ferguson as
well as in- person honors from City of Los Angeles Mayor
Antonio Villaraigosa; US
Congressman Brad Sherman and City of Los
Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge. White’s Award was
presented to her by GLAZA president Morgan, GLAZA chairman Tom Mankiewicz and
casual or safari garb, over 1,000 guests strolled through the zoo, viewing its
inhabitants in the Australia,
Great Ape, and Aquatic areas. Animal feedings and ”animal walk-abouts” were
featured including chats with keepers strolling among the crowd handling, among
others, a boa constrictor, a turtle, a slithery brown snake and owls, a
beautiful turquoise and yellow macaw. A marimba band kept things lively and a
colorful giant “butterfly “ on stilts kept young people amused. While feasting
on tasty fare, provided by some of L A and Pasadena’s most popular restaurants,
attendees were able to view and bid on conveniently located silent auction
appointed time, following the close of the silent auction, guests were summoned
to the plaza area where they were given the red carpet treatment as they
entered. Attendees were encouraged to continue their feasting before being
seated for the program.
the presentations and tributes to Betty White a live auction was held,
conducted by popular weatherman Fritz Coleman and Jimmy Pardo, Among the most
popular items were a pre-opening tour of the Zoo’s new Pachyderm Forest with
Betty White; a visit with Zenyatta one of horseracing’s all time greats at
Hollywood Park race track with her owners and racing manager; and the LA Zoo’s
Vets package -a behind-the-scenes experience at the zoo’s Gottlieb Animal Health
and Conservation Center. Dancing and desserts concluded the evening’s
restaurants included Bar Celonoa, Cafe 140 South, Celestino Ristorante,
Clancy’s Crab Broiler, El Cholo restaurant-LA, Fabiolus Café, Green Street
Restaurant, Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana, La Poubelle Bistro and Bar, Ixtapa
Cantina, Maison Akira, Malo Cantina, Pink’s Famous Hot Dogs, Villa Sorriso, and
dignitaries in attendance were Los Angeles PD Chief Beck, Councilwoman Janice
Hahn and James Hahn.
from our area were Tom and Lisa Evans, Colleen and Ty Evans, Kimberly and
Robert Shepherd, Jane and Kris Popovich, Jeanne and John Matthiesen, Mary and
League of Pasadena held its Annual Meeting on May 25, at the historic Green
Hotel in Pasadena.
Members honored incoming leadership and outstanding volunteers. as well as
celebrating the league’s tradition of service in the community. Community
partners present included representatives from Mother’s Club, Institute for Girls
Development, Huntington Library and Gardens, California Institute for Technology,
Madison Elementary and The Delta Academy.
President Katrina Onderdonk welcomed Incoming President Nicole Weaver-Goller
who holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a professional background
in nonprofit development. Active member Sandy Roberts received the Volunteer
Award for Excellence. Roberts most recently chaired the BodyWise Committee, whose
efforts are dedicated to organizing an annual health and wellbeing event for
girls. She will be stepping up as Director of Marketing in the coming League
year, and “leads by example and with such heart,” said outgoing League
Marketing Director Alison DeVriendt, who presented the award to Roberts
Tromble Mapel was honored with the Nancy Reed Payne Award, given to a
sustaining member who has distinguished herself with outstanding service in the
community. Mapel joined the Junior League of Pasadena, Inc. in 1976 and has
been “a true inspiration and role model of community service,” said Sustainer
Director Carrie Rabkin, Mapel has served as President to multiple
organizations: Encore, Stanford Club of Pasadena, Las Angelitas del Pueblo and
Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts. She also served on many boards and was a
docent for the Huntington Library for 18 years. In 2008 Mapel was elected
Overseer at the Huntington Library.
introduced 44 new actives and recognized new sustaining members: Jodi Breneman,
Maya Douglas, Peggy Geragos, Sherry Gray, Melissa Lowry, Martha Padgett, and
information on the Junior League of Pasadena please visit www.jrleaguepasadena.org.
By Mitch Lehman
EDITOR OF THE TRIBUNE
San Marino High School math teacher Dr. Tom Armbruster, was recently honored
with the highest award given by the school to those parents, teachers, and other
volunteers “who go above and beyond the call of duty” for the students of the San Marino Unified School District.
PTSA President Mary Falkenbury and SMHS Principal Loren Kleinrock presented the
award to Armbruster on Wednesday, June 2 “in recognition of his enthusiastic
support of our students for over 25 years.”
For the complete story, read the San Marino Tribune print
By Mitch Lehman
EDITOR OF THE TRIBUNE
if not most of the parents associated with last Friday’s incredible (again)
Grad Night celebration, it might have seemed as though the theme was ‘Deja Vu’
rather than the actual ‘Star Wars,’ given that most – if not all – were the
same age their children are now when the record-shattering film hit theaters in
May of 1977.
it doesn’t feel like “a long time ago” and this certainly isn’t “a galaxy far,
graduation at San Marino
High School, an annual
labor of love like few if any other on the planet, and the 2010 version was at
least up to par thanks to co-chairs Fiona Harwich and Lorrie Forgatch.
young people if their twelve-year journey through the local schools feels much
time ago, in a galaxy far, far away we started our journey as padawan
elementary trainees in Carver, Valentine, and other youngling worlds,” said
grads Stephanie Chow and James Shechet, who delivered the commencement address
with an appropriate nod to the decoration.
been tempted by the dark side – senioritis – we have put skipping classes,
neglecting homework, procrastination, and excessive facebooking to a minimal.
After fighting the dark side we are here together not as a clone army but as a
group of individual thinkers.”
then paid homage to many of their teachers, some who recently closed their
grade books for the final time.
For the complete story, read the San Marino Tribune print
by Winston Chua
– By now, horse racing aficionados are well aware that MI Developments founder
and Chairman Frank Stronach and Oak Tree Racing have reached a verbal agreement
to provide Oak Tree Racing a one-year lease agreement to race at Santa Anita
Park for 2010.
the agreement may seem simple between the two parties, how it arrived at that
conclusion is a completely different story.
nearly four uninterrupted hours, the assumption in the Hollywood Park meeting
room seemed to indicate that Stronach wanted no part of Oak Tree.
like Zenyatta’s breathtaking performance (just not as cool) June 13 at
Hollywood Park, something brilliantly unexpected came.
discussion between Stronach, the California Horse Racing Board and Oak Tree
seemed to indicate that Oak Tree had, according to the MI Developments
Chairman, decisively planned to leave Santa Anita as early as June 5.
addition, he repeated over and over how having Oak Tree at Santa Anita “doesn’t
make economic sense,” even though Oak Tree executive vice president Sherwood
Chillingworth pointed out that they had given the Chairman $50 million over the
past 11 years.
Commissioner Bo Derek questioned why Stronach was “driving away the Breeders’
Cup” and was met with the same “it doesn’t make business sense” answer.
MI Developments founder’s statements seemed to be saying that he is more
focused on the long-term sustenance of horse racing in California and the role
he can play in the monumental task of resurrecting the sport, through
legislation and deregulation.
and his statements were met with both applause and frustration from the
audience, but the CHRB acknowledged his passion for horse racing as a whole.
seemed doomed for expulsion for Santa Anita; Chillingworth even asked for a
termination statement in writing from Stronach.
Chairman Keith Brackpool tried to make sense of the timeline as to how the
events arrived to Tuesday’s meeting, when a Zenyatta moment arrived.
this time of figuring things out, Stronach extended the olive branch and
allowed Oak Tree to use Santa Anita Park for just one more year, although the
board insisted that no hasty decisions regarding a time table.
the Oak Tree agenda item were more than a dozen other agenda items, including
minisatellite wagering facilities, amendments to rules and distribution of
charity proceeds, including a $48,000 gift from Oak Tree Racing to eight
beneficiaries. The CHRB also praised the spectacular race of Zenyatta, who won
in exhilarating fashion for the 17th time at Hollywood Park on June
13. Her race can be found on ESPN.com.
David Israel, Moss and Derek for much of the discussion seemed puzzled by MI
Development’s stance on why it would be beneficial to leave Santa Anita empty.
Sources close to the action
have reported that Oak Tree is looking to move to Del Mar in 2011. The City of
Arcadia, with its need for charitable contributions, stands to benefit from Oak
Tree’s presence this year.
by Winston Chua
ARCADIA – Beverly Hills has been typically known for its
wealth and strong education system. It is no surprise, then, that parents who
live outside BHUSD and expected that their children attend the aforementioned
city’s district are upset that their own will no longer be granted that
“As a parent, what you want for your youngster is to start
them in school and have them finish there,” San Gabriel Superintendent Susan
Parks said. “It’s ideal to start them and finish them at school with a strong
peer group, friendships and teachers.”
Tuesday night, the Los Angeles County Office of Education
rejected appeals made by parents who were pining to have their children attend
BHUSD. As part of a BHUSD compromise, students currently enrolled at the high
school on permit will be allowed to have their permits renewed, including last
So far, LACOE has rejected 25 appeals and granted seven.
BHUSD moved into a Basic Aid category earlier this year, meaning that local
property tax revenues in the area exceed the sum of funding that the state
would have provided.
School districts can move into the Basic Aid formula as a
result of the state’s fiscal crisis.
To the extent that BHUSD is, in effect, pushing students
away, West San Gabriel Valley cities simply cannot afford to do so. In
Alhambra, San Gabriel and Arcadia, revenue limits are tied substantially to the
average daily attendance (ADA), the average number of students who attended
school over the course of a year.
ADA figures help determine the total amount of state
In the Alhambra Unified School District, the revenue limit
for the upcoming year is $98 million, $80 million of which is state aid and $18
million of which is from property tax. Denise Jaramillo, the assistant
superintendent of financial services for Alhambra Unified, said there would be
“no benefit to funding based on purely property tax.”
Arcadia Unified will receive about $5,000 per student from
the state for the school year 2010-11, or about $49 million.
Ken Shelton, the assistant superintendent of business
services for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, said that the state
does not fund public education when the property tax yield, made up of
commercial and residential sources, is greater than what the a particular
district is entitled to, with some exceptions.
“It’s not a district choice,” he said. “It’s a combination
of factors that move districts into Basic Aid status.” What can happen is that
when property tax revenues are high, districts receive les state aid.
SGUSD’s Parks said that her district would not be able to
survive with Basic Aid because many homeowners, who have lived in San Gabriel
for a long time, pay very little in property taxes. The effect of Serrano v. Priest
and Proposition 13, which limits property tax revenue, is said to have led to
the decline in quality education in California.
The Arcadia Unified School District also depends on the
state for much of its funding, because it simply could not survive on property
taxes alone. The bad part about this is that when the State struggles, so does
AUSD. In Arcadia, the numbers still point to per-pupil funding as a reliable
In Arcadia, one of the few times the city rejects students
is if the students has moved to another city and has not completed their junior
year in school.
Arcadia School Board member Joann Steinmeier said that her
district believes that students should be a part of the district they belong
in. One case where students don’t belong as part of her district is bad
behavior, that being the main exclusionary rule.
Arcadia USD transfers roughly the same amount of students
out of district as they take in.
The Greater Pasadena area is
resplendent with fantastic architectural homes of all styles and sizes. As a Realtor, it is such a pleasure to
have the opportunity to tour many of these homes. I marvel at the original design, the moldings and the array
of other design details originating from the minds of such geniuses as Paul
Williams, Greene and Greene, and Roland Coate (just to name a few). We are blessed to have such rich
architectural history in our own communities and have an inherent
responsibility to make sure that the alterations that we make to these homes is
an improvement to the Architect’s original design, not a detraction.
One of the most striking changes that
many families are choosing to make to these older homes is the expansion of the
kitchen area and the addition of an attached family room. Many of these early 1900’s homes were
equipped with small kitchens, which often had a nearby maid’s room, bath and
laundry room. Back when these
homes were built, the kitchen was not a place of opulence or indulgence but a
place that the everyday work of meal preparation happened. Today, even those who have help in the
home desire their kitchen to be one of the best rooms in the house, an inviting
gathering place for family and friends.
According to area contractor, Lee
Haslam, if you had to choose one item to improve in your home, he would suggest
doing the kitchen/family room remodel.
Beyond the enjoyment that it will bring to your own family, this
configuration has universal appeal to home buyers. Haslam contends that as long as you spend your money wisely,
improvements to this area of your home will go straight to your bottom line during
the selling process. He suggests
using high quality materials and contractors but warns against the tendency to
over-spend. According to Haslam,
“Every decision should be a business decision first and a design decision
second.” Assuming that you work
within the original footprint of the home and are not adding square footage, he
believes that you can complete a very beautiful kitchen/family room for a
maximum of $100,000.
Another very important and worthwhile
upgrade is the bathrooms of the home.
The addition of double sinks, water closets and larger and more
elaborate showers and bathtubs are all a bonus for home buyers. Just because a bathroom is updated, it
does not have to appear out of place.
Stores such as Mission Tile in South Pasadena have an array of vintage
tiles and materials that can give a bathroom a period feel. Whatever you do, make sure that it is
in keeping with the home’s original architecture and scale. The whole object is to make these rooms
fit in with the rest of the house, while adding convenience, attractiveness and
function. If your home is Spanish,
use materials which blend and harmonize with the terra cotta tile, rot iron and
arches inherent in most Spanish Architecture. Assuming that you are working within your original bathroom
footprint, a bathroom remodel should cost between $15,000 and $20,000
(including infrastructure), but Haslam thinks that you could to do it for as
little as $10,000. Haslam
advocates the use of simple moderately priced materials, such as white
rectangular subway tile and white hexagon floor tile in bathrooms. You can never go wrong with these
timeless and attractive materials, and they are extremely suited for our period
Sellers frequently ask me if they
should redo their kitchen and baths before putting their homes on the
market. These sellers have usually
spent many years in their home and have never gotten around to the tedious
renovation process. My usual
advice is to leave them alone, unless there are major cracks or flaws. Well-maintained homes that are clean
and original are very desirable to a large group of buyers. Many buyers will want to make their own
improvements, and money spent in haste will probably not add dollar for dollar
to your bottom line.
by Winston Chua
ARCADIA – MI Developments founder and Chairman Frank Stronach and Oak Tree Racing have
reached a verbal agreement to provide Oak Tree Racing a one-year lease agreement for 2010.
It is a position that for most of Tuesday’s California Horse Racing Board he refused to budge on. However, in the
long run, he does not believe a lease agreement with Oak Tree Racing is in the best interests of Santa Anita Park.
The Board tried to pin down what exactly had been going wrong with the negotiations between Oak Tree and Santa Anita that essentially began in early June; and it was not until the very end of the agenda item that Stronach offered the olive branch to Oak Tree.
The Board tried to make sense of why no tenant for this year, would make better sense in the short and long run than one tenant would, as Stronach had been contending.
Chairman and board members Keith Brackpool, David Israel, Jerry Moss and Bo Derek for much of the discussion were puzzled by MI Development’s stance on leaving Santa Anita empty.
Hollywood Park and Del Mar may be options for Oak Tree next year, and Chillingworth thanked them for their cooperation. He mentioned also that the City of Arcadia will be helped by Oak Tree’s presence at Santa Anita.