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HMG-CN EXCLUSIVE: Montebello Mayor Jack Hadjinian Received Gifts From Montebello Hills Developer

Money bag


By Brian Hews

An examination of current Montebello Mayor Jack Hadjinian’s 2014 Statement of Economic Interest Form 700’s by Hews Media Group-Community News has found that the embattled Mayor enjoyed another extravagant golf excursion, this time from Newport Beach-based Cook Hill Properties, the developer in charge of the controversial Montebello Hills housing development.

Elected officials are required to file an annual Statement of Economic Interests Form 700 that discloses potential conflicts of interest. The forms are an indicator whether an official is acting in his or her own self-interest.

One week ago, HMG-CN exclusively reported that Hadjinian dined with Jason Kachan who owns property on Whittier Blvd.

Hadjinian hastily voted to approve the controversial “2113 Whittier Blvd, LLC” Kachan housing development even though many serious question remained about the project.

Some of the questions included inadequate guest parking, tandem only parking for residents, and concerns about water pressure from the Fire Marshall.

Councilmember Bill Molinari cited inconsistent and incomplete elements of the project application, and also that smaller units will be approved that are not allowed by the Montebello Building Code.

Months later the project, a development that Montebello Planning Manager Matt Feske admitted uncertainty in the number of rental units and the number of stories for the project, was approved.

At one point during the approval, Molinari said, “I’m looking at the applicant’s plan. We seem to have a floor floating around somewhere. We have a discrepancy here. It doesn’t add up.” He complained, “staff can’t even tell me how many floors there are.”

Yet Mayor Hadjinian somehow approved the project.

But this latest revelation of a golf excursion with Cook Hills should draw the ire of thousands of Montebello residents.

It is very similar to the Kachan development where Hadjinian ignored many problems yet approved the project. With the Montebello Hills project many residents are worried about the gridlock, traffic, poor air quality, and lack of parks.

Residents were so upset they filed a lawsuit opposing the housing development and were recently advised that their lawsuit against the City of Montebello can proceed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The lawsuit was filed by Montebello based Citizens for Open Government (COPS) in July and maintains that the City of Montebello failed to adequately review and address air quality, traffic, water quality and biological concerns. The lawsuit also accuses the Montebello City Council of Brown Act violations.

After Hadjinian voted to approve the project, he seemed to have an air of cockiness about him, ignoring Montebello residents’ objections, “the project is on private property and not something residents should get a vote on, Hadjinian told the Whittier Daily News. “This isn’t something where the city is considering selling or changing the use of city-owned property,” he said.

Cook Hill Properties will build homes on 174 of 488 acres of oil land owned by Freeport-McMoRan Oil.

The rest of the land will be devoted to open space and habitat protection.

Once the project is completed in 2022, 4,000 people are expected to live in the development.

The oil company will continue to drill for oil but plans to place the oil drilling underground.

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