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One of L.A. County's last slaughterhouses could go on the chopping block

Chinese American Live Poultry serves freshly plucked birds to a largely immigrant clientele. Neighbors complain the facility smells and the Rosemead Planning Commission has voted to shut it down.

December 29, 2009|By Corina Knoll

"It was an election year, and [Mayor] Margaret Clark sent out postcards to try and drum up opposition to the slaughterhouse," said Todd Kunioka, who was on the Planning Commission in 2008. "It was just people looking for campaign issues, trying to attack the incumbents."

Kunioka also said some of the opposition to the business stems from the city's changing demographics; the Asian population in the town of 60,000 has risen to nearly 50% in the last two decades.

"It wasn't that long ago when it was a traditional bedroom community with white people, and I think there are a lot of people who don't like the changes in the city," he said.

Clark, whose postcards about the slaughterhouse made reference to Avian flu, said she takes offense to the suggestion that her stance has anything to do with race.

"It's a matter of code enforcement," she said. "It's a matter of taking care of the residents that live around there that have had to suffer for years."

The council will decide the fate of the slaughterhouse in January. Meanwhile, the city has hired a consultant to scout other cities that might have a suitable spot for a slaughterhouse, said Director of Community Development Brian Saeki.

Nancy Eng, the only current planning commissioner to speak in favor of the slaughterhouse, said she hopes council members recognize that Rosemead has a responsibility to work with its businesses. She abstained from the commission's recent vote.

"You don't just shut somebody down, especially if somebody's been there for that long," she said. "I still feel that the code issues can be remedied, and both sides just have to talk and work out something where the business can still serve their customers. It's a family-owned business and they put a lot of time and sweat into it."

The Phus, who employ 15 people, say they have addressed each violation and continue to be under the city's microscope.

"I'm hoping the city will do the right thing and see the kind of service we are providing for the community," Dana Phu said. "A slaughterhouse sounds funny, but it's very comforting for a lot of our people. It's a place where they can go and it feels like home."

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