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Mayor Flowers recused herself due to proximity of property she owns.

By Brian Hews

The Artesia Council, on 4-0 vote, approved Artesia Live II, the seven-story mixed-use development to be built across from the Los Cerritos Center Mall at 18600 Gridley Rd.

The project will bring much needed revenue into the City, with Cornerstone, the developer of the project, paying a City Development Fee of $3 million.

The company will also invest $1.5 million to upgrade Artesia’s Public Utility System.

Ongoing revenue to the City will be generated by sales tax, commercial fees, residential fees and is estimated to be over $500,000 annually. Cornerstone will even make a one-time donation of $500,000 to the ABCUSD.

Mayor pro tem Tony Lima, and Council-members Miguel Canales, Victor Manalo, and Ali Taj all voted to approve the project.

Mayor Sally Flowers recused herself due to the fact that she owned property close to the project.

A small vocal group of detractors let their feelings, some at times extremely disrespectful, be known during the entire meeting when speakers talked in support of approving the project.

The detractors were joined by disgruntled former Commissioner Rene Trevino, newsletter publisher Melinda Kimsey, and a few vocal residents who boast a Facebook page named for their protest.

ABC Board member Chris Apodaca, who spoke in favor of the project and the benefits to the ABCUSD, was booed and hissed by the detractors as he spoke.

Several people told HMG-CN said that Trevino confronted Apodaca after he spoke but that Apodaca, “put Trevino in his place” and the confrontation soon broke up.

Lynda Johnson, the former ABC Board member and now representative for L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, filled out a speakers card, but she later left and did not comment.

The process of approval was marked by petty politics, and outright lies by certain residents.

A small group of Cerritos residents even joined the fray, trying to get traction for the development they are fighting, the Juliet project here in Cerritos.

Trevino took the unusual step of sending a petition to sign via email, As of Feb. 15, the petition garnered only 13 signatures.

Reflecting the vitriol of the detractors, the petition contained lies and the unauthorized use of trademarked property owned by Cornerstone.

The petition stated, “Artesia is a small town …all that will change if the mixed-use, high-density developments slated for our city are actually built.”

The presumed author who signed the petition, resident Tia Hanson-Dealy, subsequently defamed the developers of Artesia Live II.

Dealy wrote, “The Artesia City Council, working with foreign investors, want to build massive complexes that will increase traffic, impede parking, and invade privacy in surrounding neighborhoods.”

All of Cornerstone’s investors were born in the United States according to Cornerstone officials.

In addition, exhaustive studies commissioned by Cornerstone indicated that the traffic increase would be negligible and that ample parking was set aside for the project.

Finally, according to officials, Cornerstone talked to the homeowners directly behind the project and all were in support. The only remaining housing were apartments that are across and farther down the street from the project.

Many local residents and elected officials agree that Artesia needs to act now to stem the outflow of shopping dollars to areas such as the Los Cerritos Center and Plaza 183, which is in walking distance for many Artesia residents.

Councilman Victor Manalo told HMG-CN, “The Artesia City Council’s decision to give its approval to the Artesia Live II project sends a clear message to the residents of the city:  Artesia is moving in the direction of growth, and we want all who live, work, and play in our city to engage with the city to create an Artesia that improves the quality of life for all Artesians present and future. It is no longer a question of whether or not we want to grow–the city must grow, and we all must embrace our exciting future.”