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Top 10 Stories of 1989 : Development Is Year's Hottest Issue

December 31, 1989|MIKE WARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The year's biggest news stories in the San Gabriel Valley. 1. Slow-growth movement.

2. Violent crime.

3. Irwindale and the Raiders.

4. Pomona political tumult.

5. Montoya indictment, trial.

6. Diamond Bar incorporation.

7. Sign ordinance controversies.

8. Azusa dump expansion.

9. Hacienda La Puente, Sierra Madre school battles.

10. Three major fires.

In the past year, the San Gabriel Valley and its residents gained a new city, endured a wave of drive-by shootings, saw hopes of landing a professional football team fade and engaged in controversies on issues ranging from foreign language signs on stores to morbidness in school textbooks.

In addition, one of the area's most prominent politicians went on trial on corruption charges, city government in Pomona was thrown into turmoil and a major environmental battle was fought over the expansion of an Azusa dump.

But the theme that dominated many San Gabriel Valley news stories in 1989 was the issue of development versus preservation. That continuing source of controversy, often pitting developers against homeowners, was the top news story of 1989, in the opinion of editors and reporters in The Times' San Gabriel Valley edition.

Preservationists won a major victory in Pasadena in March when voters approved an initiative limiting growth. Pasadena Residents in Defense of our Environment sponsored the initiative, claiming it was needed to ease traffic congestion, curb high-rise construction and stop the bulldozing of single-family homes.

The Chamber of Commerce, Urban League, developers and business interests fought it, claiming it would cost the city business and jobs and would reduce the availability of low- and moderate-priced housing. Voters approved the initiative by a decisive margin.

The measure restricts construction of housing to 250 units a year, not counting housing that is deemed affordable. The measure also bans mini-malls and sets a yearly limit on construction of major office buildings and other commercial projects.

Preservationists also made progress in persuading cities along the foothills to tighten restrictions on hillside construction. In Glendora, a private land conservancy was established, and the city is planning to ask voters in April whether they are willing to be taxed to fund hillside purchases. Other proposals would put 1,600 acres in Sierra Madre and 1,200 acres in Claremont under public ownership.

Although slow-growth forces made gains last year, they also suffered some losses. The Pasadena Board of Directors overrode objections from Pasadena Heritage and approved the One Colorado project, a $75-million development at the site of a group of historic buildings on Colorado Boulevard.

The Monterey Park City Council approved plans for a $27-million to $30-million renovation of the Atlantic Square Shopping Center, despite complaints about traffic congestion.

The County Board of Supervisors overrode neighborhood opposition to approve the La Vina project, a plan to build 272 homes on 220 acres in Altadena.

In West Covina, the City Council approved a $112-million expansion of the Fashion Plaza shopping center, a decision that was controversial because of the terms of the agreement between the developer and the city redevelopment agency and concern about the impact of moving the May Co. from the Eastland Shopping Center to Fashion Plaza.

2. Violent crime

Violent crime, including a record number of homicides in Pomona, was the No. 2. story in the San Gabriel Valley. Pomona had 36 killings in the first nine months of 1989, more than any San Gabriel Valley city had ever recorded in a full year. The victims ranged from teen-agers shot on the street to an elderly brother and sister beaten in their home.

Police from Pomona to Pasadena reported numerous drive-by shootings, as gangs battled each other over the drug trade and tried to avenge previous assaults.

In the Pasadena-Altadena area, one death of a gang member in 1988, police said, led to a series of retaliatory gang attacks between the Bloods and the Crips that continued into 1989 and took 10 lives.

3. Irwindale, Others Court the Raiders

Irwindale has been unable to complete the $115-million deal made with the Raiders two years ago. By the end of the year, the football team seems more likely to move to Sacramento, return to Oakland or even stay in Los Angeles in a rebuilt Coliseum than move to Irwindale, but city officials have not given up hope that the Raiders will someday play their games in a stadium built in a gravel pit.

The negotiations have been hampered by a series of changes in the city's bargaining team. One of the key negotiators, Fred Lyte, was fired as city redevelopment consultant and is suing the city. Another negotiator, public relations consultant Xavier Hermosillo, was fired, rehired and fired again.

4. Political Tumult Shakes Up Pomona

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