Something stinks in Irwindale. In recent months, officials in the largely industrial San Gabriel Valley city have appeared to be on a crusade to shut down Huy Fong Foods, the company that makes a wildly popular Sriracha sauce, for emitting chili and garlic odors that bother some neighbors. While a city should protect residents from harmful and/or unpleasant fumes, Irwindale's aggressive and unreasonable tactics have threatened to drive a home-grown enterprise out of state and bolstered California's unfortunate reputation as a bad place to do business.
But there may be hope for compromise in the Sriracha showdown. The city has already sued Huy Fong Foods to stop production if the odors continue. This week the City Council was on the verge of designating the factory a public nuisance, but postponed the decision for two weeks to allow more time for a settlement with Chief Executive Officer David Tran. It's about time Irwindale leaders took a less heavy-handed approach, particularly since they lured the company to relocate to the city and to build a $40-million factory, which was completed just last year.
Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant who started his company in a small space in L.A's Chinatown, moved to Irwindale after the city offered land in its industrial development project area and a 10-year interest-only loan so he could triple his sauce output. But while Irwindale is mostly industrial — there are fewer than 1,500 residents — Huy Fong Foods is across the street from homes, and some neighbors have complained that spicy odors are making their throats burn, eyes water and noses bleed.