USA Track & Field didn’t learn about lawsuits that jeopardized the 2020 Olympic Trials until two months after its board awarded the meet to Mt. San Antonio College in June 2017, newly revealed documents show.
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UNITED WALNUT TAXPAYERS PRESS RELEASE
Walnut California, April 16, 2018
After a lengthy 4-year battle between Mt San Antonio Community College and the community and city of Walnut, Mt SAC and the City of Walnut reached a Memorandum of Agreement on April 11, 2018. While the City has settled and will dismiss all of its lawsuits, UWT has one further Measure RR spending lawsuit against Mt. SAC filed before Mt. SAC’s bid for the 20/20 Olympic trials.
Mt SAC agreed to permanently abandon the construction of an 11-acre Solar Farm designated for the West Parcel, the busiest intersection in Walnut at Grand and Temple. Additionally, Mt SAC has agreed to abandon the 2200 stall 5 story parking structure at Lot A within 120 feet of the Timberline community. Although the agreement did not indicate that a restrictive covenant will be recorded on the parking structure, UWT believes it was an oversight and could be corrected in an addendum to the agreement.
This is a victory for the Walnut community and a step in the right direction towards the preservation and protection of our environment, and ultimately, the quality of life in Walnut.
UWT continues to have significant concern that the settlement agreement will allow the dumping of 140,000 cubic yards of dirt at the West Parcel. Geotechnical studies conducted by a licensed engineering geologist and geotechnical engineer on this site indicate serious landslide and stability problems remain (as acknowledged by both the City and Mt. SAC in their joint press release dated 04/12/18), and adjacent residential properties would be in jeopardy of failure. There have been two major landslides at this location in the past few decades and residents close to the site indicate that they continue to see cracking and shifting at their properties. Substantial geotechnical engineering studies must be done to determine if dirt can be dumped safely at the site.
UWT remains hopeful that the City of Walnut and Mt. SAC will do their due diligence and contract with a qualified, licensed geotechnical engineering firm to review proposed grading plans as well as ensure review by California Geological Survey as required for large school grading projects with significant geological problems.
Finally, UWT will remain vigilant on the use of taxpayers money on bond projects. We strongly urge Mt. SAC to adopt the guidelines provided by California Taxpayers Action Network (CALTAN) to promote and to protect the welfare and rights of California’s residents and taxpayers through the encouragement of sound fiscal policies, practices and business methods by California’s public entities (www.caltan.org).
“Our primary goal was to get Mt. SAC to consider concerns of the community for its large-scale projects on the outskirts of its campus because they are highly impactful and affect the quality of life in the entire Walnut community. We’ve been calling on Mt. SAC to sit down with the community, talk to the community, and create a balance with their needs and the community needs. Hopefully, that is where we are now, however, only time will tell whether Mt. SAC will change its errant ways” stated Layla Abou-Taleb President of UWT.
Go to Resource tab for link to UWT Geotechnical Study, City-Mt. SAC MOA and City Mt. SAC Press Release.
** UWT is a public nonprofit 501 (c)(3) corporation formed to preserve and protect the quality of life in the City of Walnut.
United Walnut Taxpayers Layla Abou-Taleb, President
SIGN THE PETITION TO STOP THE INDUSTRIAL POWER GENERATING SOLAR PLANT AT GRAND & AMAR
Overview of planned solar plant
Mt SAC is proceeding with the construction of an 11-acre Industrial Power Generating Solar Plant at the Southwest Corner of Grand and Amar. This entails the removal of the natural habitat and leveling of the rolling hills of approximately 22 acres.
While UWT is a strong proponent of renewable energy, a more environmentally friendly and viable option would be the carport solar on Mt. SAC’s extensive flat surface parking areas with the added advantage of providing shade.
This project does not align with the City of Walnuts residential character and is contrary to the designation of Grand Avenue as a scenic highway.
To see the visual impact, go to the Solar Farm Line of Sight Study prepared by UWT on the Resource page.
Findings of the Geological Reports
In addition to the aesthetic component there was serious Landslide potential discovered at the site. This was uncovered by the Geotechnical firm hired by UWT, Terrestrial Solutions Inc., TSI. TSI reviewed Mt. SACS’s geotechnical study conducted by Converse consultants where there was no mention of landslide activity. Due to the substantial deficiencies in the Converse report, Mt. SAC hired Leighton consulting as a peer reviewer over Converse.
The Leighton report commissioned by Mt SAC confirms what Terrestrial Solutions, Inc. (UWT engineering geologist expert) has concluded that inadequate field investigations have been completed to properly evaluate geological and geotechnical risks of the West Parcel Solar project and if these risks can be properly mitigated. Specifically, Leighton confirms that bedding orientations of the project are out-of-slope and unfavorable to slope stability, which is consistent with TSI findings and contrary to Converse conclusions.
More concerning the preliminary analysis performed by Leighton confirms that slope stability near homes at Regal Canyon Drive as a result of the west parcel project does not meet a minimum level factor of safety.
Additionally, both Leighton and TSI reports highlight that no slope stability analysis has been conducted to determine landslide and project risks and mitigation potential.
UWT TSI Geotechnical Report;
Mt SAC Leighton Geotechnical Report;
Hauling of Dirt for Solar Project
The other serious concern generated by this project is the truck hauling and disposal of 139,000 cubic yards of dirt at the site. The truck hauling daily from the Stadium to the site for extended hours over the course of at a minimum 3 months is not just a major inconvenience for the residents but could potentially be a safety concern.
One or possibly two 30-ton trucks at a time leaving the West Parcel after dumping their loads will be required to quickly weave into traffic gaps from a “full stop” to normal traffic speeds onto Grand Avenue. Trucks will travel south while public traffic quickly closes in and encounters them from behind on a right trending Grand Avenue turn with poor views looking ahead. These types of “real time” safety issues cannot be analyzed through numerical models. Accidents occur by co-mingling haul routes with public roadways, including fatalities when motorists do not see flagmen (Pers. Exp., D. Majors, MWD Manager, Inland Feeder Project, 1999). The co-mingling of a haul route with public traffic, as is being done here, particularly by merging 10,000+ trucks entering the right-trending Grand Avenue turn should be avoided due to public safety risks.
UWT Historical Court Ruling
On March 14, 2017 the Los Angeles superior court ruled in favor of UWT on all matters. Court identified the proposed ‘Parking Structure’ as abandoned by Mt. SAC. The court affirmed the authority of the City of Walnut over grading and hauling for the West Parcel Solar Plant. The court importantly affirmed that Mt. SAC has a pattern and practice of violating California Environmental Quality Act CEQA.
Go to the Resource page and view Historical Court Ruling
Help us spread the word
Contact your council members and share your concerns;
Mayor – Mary Su; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Pro Tem – Nancy Tragarz; email@example.com
Councilman – Andrew Rodriguez; firstname.lastname@example.org
Councilman – Bob Pacheco; email@example.com
Councilman – Eric Ching; firstname.lastname@example.org
Forward the petition link to your friends and neighbors;
Print this flyer and distribute to friends and neighbors;
Los Angeles, CA (March 16, 2017) – Two lawsuits filed over two years ago (March 24 and 25, 2015) by United Walnut Taxpayers (UWT)** and by the City of Walnut, ended on Tuesday, March 14, when Judge Chalfant of the Los Angeles Superior Court, in a lengthy forty-nine page decision, found that Mt. San Antonio Community College (Mt. SAC)
UWT originally filed suit in the Los Angeles Superior Court based on claims Mt. SAC violated CEQA, local development rules, and was intending to illegally spend Measure RR school bond funds when Mt. SAC’s Board of Trustees approved a contentious $48.5 million 2,300 space parking structure project. UWT also sued on claims that Mt. SAC unlawfully passed a resolution purporting to exempt the parking garage project from City of Walnut zoning ordinances and had a general pattern and practice of avoiding legally required environmental review for its facility projects.
In an unprecedented legal battle between a dedicated taxpayer group, United Walnut Taxpayers and the largest single campus community college in the United States, Mt. San Antonio Community College, the taxpayer group achieved a monumental environmental legal victory. This marks the first time that a community based taxpayer organization has achieved such a large and sweeping victory against the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees.
This is a victory for the Walnut community and a step in the right direction towards the preservation and protection of our environment, and ultimately, the quality of life in Walnut.
As a result of the UWT victory the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees has abandoned the construction of a 5-story parking structure planned within 125 feet of a residential neighborhood making the UWT claim moot. However, should Mt SAC revive the parking structure project once again, UWT will seek new and appropriate legal review.
Additionally, as a result of the UWT victory, a planned Mt. SAC off-campus 11 acre solar generating facility project in midst of the residential community will be required to start a new CEQA process. If the new Mt. SAC CEQA review is legally compliant and unchallenged, the court ruled that Mt. SAC will then be required to obtain hauling and grading permits from the City of Walnut. If the new Mt. SAC solar generating project CEQA review is deficient, UWT will seek new and appropriate legal review.
Separate and apart from CEQA compliance, if substantial issues of public safety surrounding the planned off campus residential neighborhood solar generating facility are not properly addressed in the hauling and grading permit process, the City is required to deny Mt SAC’s permits according to UWT.
Regarding CEQA, on March 14, 2017, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant made the following findings against the Mt SAC Board of Trustees:
“The EIRs do not address the details of the specific projects, they merely lists the projects that are part of the Facilities Master Plan. See AR 181-183. These are all characteristic of a programmatic EIR, not a project-specific EIR.”
“Mt. SAC must prepare and circulate initial studies to responsible agencies (at an appropriate time) as projects come up for an actual decision on design and implementation.” “The District was required to, at minimum, prepare and circulate an initial study for each of the Solar Project and the Parking Garage Project to determine whether the individual projects would cause significant environmental effects not examined in the Program EIR. Contrary to this requirement, the District did not properly prepare and circulate initial studies for those Projects.” “There is no evidence that the initial studies were presented to the Board or any responsible agencies. The District failed to proceed in the manner required by law by failing to properly circulate initial studies for the Parking Garage and Solar Projects.”
The judge further ruled, “United Walnut‘s Petition against the District is granted in large part. The Parking Garage Project is moot and United Walnut‘s claims concerning it are denied. For the Solar Project, the District failed to proceed in the manner required by law by failing to properly circulate initial study. The District also is required to comply with the City‘s grading ordinances in constructing the Solar Project. Finally, the District has a practice of preparing Program EIRs which can be used for tiering, but are not project-specific. Because it uses programmatic EIRs, United Walnut is entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief that Mt. SAC must prepare and circulate initial studies to responsible agencies (at an appropriate time) as projects come up for actual decisions for design and implementation.”
The Superior Court has ordered that Mt. SAC must rescind its approvals and start over with timely CEQA review that is fully vetted to the public and other state and local resource agencies.
The lawsuits have caused Mt. SAC’s major facilities projects and its Measure RR bond spending program to come to a screeching halt. Its plan to spend over $83 million to build an entire new stadium and athletics center is also currently wrapped up in a similar legal battle between the same parties and UWT contends the writing is on the wall how Mt. SAC’s handling of the stadium and athletic projects will also suffer defeat for the same reasons as its prior ones.
Attorney for UWT, Craig Sherman commented that, “This has been a long time coming and we are absolutely thrilled to see that the court agreed with substantially all of our claims and arguments. When we began this fight 2 years again, we warned Mt. Sac that its bond spending and environmental review programs were a mess and were shutting out public input and blatantly violating many laws.”
UWT President, Layla Abou-Taleb stated “Ultimate responsibility for the actions of Mt. SAC rest with the Board of Trustees. In many cases the Mt. SAC Board never approved or requested ‘initial studies’ or the required ‘alternate studies’ a requirement of CEQA. If any monies have been wasted or substantial repair or improvement delays have resulted that is the responsibility of the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees. Mt. SAC CEO Dr. Scroggins takes ultimate direction from the Board, which voted to approve the legally challenged projects despite repeated pleas by UWT to follow the CEQA requirements.”
“Our primary goal was to get Mt. SAC to consider concerns of the community for its large scale projects on the outskirts of its campus because they are highly impactful and affect the quality of life in the entire Walnut community. We’ve been calling on Mt. SAC to sit down with the community, talk to the community, and create a balance with their needs and the community needs. Hopefully, that is where we are now, however, only time will tell whether Mt. SAC will change its errant ways” stated Layla Abou-Taleb President of UWT.”
UWT has demonstrated that a small but dedicated group of community residents can make a difference on important issues of protecting the environment and public safety.
** UWT is a public benefit corporation formed to preserve and protect the quality of life in the City of Walnut. It includes over 500 local community members, has affiliated support of three residential communities and multiple business associations.
Congratulations Walnut, the court today granted UWT a preliminary injunction stopping Mt SAC from proceeding with the Solar Farm.
Court also denied Mt SAC’s motion for an injunction on the city’s ‘Stop Work Order’ on the solar.
What this means is that Mt SAC cannot start work on the Solar project until the issue is resolved through trial.
We continue to press Mt Sac to do the right thing and save Walnut’s scenic beauty. Mt Sac has better environmental options such as carports over their extensive surface parking. This option is about half the cost of their proposed solar farm and provides shaded parking for students and staff.
Let’s hope Mt Sac starts considering what’s best for Walnut as well as for their students!
By Mansfield Collins
Today was a milestone for the City of Walnut and UWT in our fight to save one of our cities last remaining hillsides, Grand and Amar/Temple, the gateway to Walnut. My family and I have lived in Walnut 29 years. Like most of you, we see this hillside everyday and appreciate its natural beauty and the unique open space natural habitat character it gives to Walnut. It is a relaxing sight to view as we drive southbound on Grand from the 10 freeway into Walnut. It has been undisturbed since 1948. Neighbors tell us about Roadrunners, bobcats, hawks and other rare species that can be found there. Now, Mt Sac CEO Scroggins wants to bulldoze it and place hundreds of solar panels in plain view for all of Walnut to gasp at. Well today, 50 plus residents participated in a protest rally at the solar site to tell Scroggins to relocate the solar farm on campus to carports and rooflops.
The press appeared. Attached are some excerpts.
About 35 residents protested a hillside solar farm proposed by Mount San Antonio College by marching onto campus on Monday and demanding the college president’s resignation.
“We have brought the community to you because you have failed to come to the community,” said Layla Abou-Taleb, leader of United Walnut Taxpayers during an extraordinary confrontation with President William Scroggins just outside his office. “It is time for you to step down.”
The crowd stayed for about 20 minutes, shouting “Scroggins must go!” and demanding the college reverse its position on building the solar project, which the residents say will lower property values, cause glare and destroy a natural hillside habitat.
After distributing 50 letters to residents of Snow Creek on Stonybrook Drive, Regal Canyon Drive and Buckskin Drive on Friday, saying grading of the natural hills would begin Monday, the college reversed itself and indicated it had placed the project on hold. Since the city of Walnut and UWT had taken the college to court over this project and a proposed five-story parking structure (which the court placed on hold last year), the college said it wanted to wait until after the results of a court-ordered mediation session beginning Nov. 17.
“The work on the solar project is on hold pending the mediation,” Scroggins told the angry crowd who gathered inside the plaza at Founders Hall, the administration building. When told some earth-moving equipment would be moved onto the east side of campus by next week, residents and members of UWT called it a trick and said they wanted zero work done until the judge decides the case.
During the tense confrontation, Scroggins was asked by a member of the group if he would be willing to reconsider the location of the solar farm, something residents say should be put atop campus buildings and on carport structures. After first saying it was not up to him but to the college board of trustees, he said: “No direction has been given by the board or by me,” promising that the college is going into mediation with an open mind.
Before the march, about 50 protesters stood beneath the site on Grand Avenue waving placards and shouting slogans. They were joined by City Manager Rob Wishner, as well as council members Mary Su, Eric Ching and Andrew Rodriguez.
Wishner said a city stop work order, along with assurances from the captain of the Walnut Sheriff’s Station of enforcement, had an effect. The city contends the college must pull permits for the project, but the college says it is exempt.
“I am hopeful we can put this dispute to bed,” he said.
Wishner said he understands the residents concerns about Mt. SAC growing, with 60,000 students, adding to noise, traffic and environmental degradation to the small city. “Now with about 60,000 students, it is beginning to have a quality of life impact on the community,” he said.
He chastised the college for not doing a better job working with residents and City Hall. What was usually a positive relationship has degraded these last two years, officials and residents said. Abou-Taleb puts the blame on the president, there for the past six years. “Scroggins always wants to have it his way,” she said.
Read the full article at:
The relationship with Mt Sac has been bad ever since it hired Scroggins. We do not trust him. The Judge has ruled against him more than three times. Nevertheless, his actions are consistent with the mantra, “dam the torpedoes full speed ahead”. He just doesn’t care. He is responsible for an unprecedented period of bad relations with Walnut. His assault on Walnut is without conscience. He has a complete disdain for Walnut and community input. He is wasting our taxpayer dollars on legal fees instead of classrooms. This was avoidable had he tried to be reasonable. He is wasting taxpayer dollars on “solar farms” by as much $5 to $7 million dollars because our expert says that’s how much would be saved by putting solar on carports and rooftops. The solar farm looks like there is a hidden agenda why waste millions of taxpayer dollars! Follow the money. It is time for us to demand his resignation. We need CHANGE at Mt Sac. We need a true neighbor, a true partner working to create respect and balance for Mt Sac and Walnut. That will never happen as long as Scroggins remains as CEO. It is time. The time is now to demand his resignation. Otherwise, Scroggins will continue to poison relations with Walnut while continuing to destroy the quality of our life. One man should never think he has the power or authority to do whatever he wants and whenever he wants and to whoever he wants. If you agree, please email the Mt Sac Bd of Trustees and tell them that we are fed up and Scroggins must go!
Dr. Manuel Baca, Ms. Rosanne Bader, Ms. Laura Santos, Mr. Jay F. Chen, Dr. David Hall, Ms. Judy Chen Haggerty, Esq., Mr. Robert Hidalgo at email@example.com. If the trustees will not act, we need to push for term limits and elect some trustees who will seek a fair and reasonable balance with Walnut. Not one of the seven trustees lives in Walnut.
There were many new faces that participated in the rally today. More information about UWT can be found at this link. http://savewalnut.org/. United Walnut Taxpayers is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit Public Benefit Corporation formed to preserve and protect the quality of life in the City of Walnut. All donations are tax exempt. We raise money to defray the costs of our legal fees required to protect the quality of life in Walnut. To donate click on the donate tab or send your donations to;
United Walnut Taxpayers
P.O. Box 1665
Walnut, CA 91788
A group of neighbors got together initially to oppose a 5 story parking structure planned by Mt. SAC, to be built within 125 feet of their homes. We quickly realized that Mt. SAC had many more projects that could negatively impact the quality of life in the City in terms of traffic, safety, pollution, noise, and aesthetics. What started out as a neighborhood concern became a Citywide community concern, and United Walnut Taxpayers was formed. Please support us. We need your help. We are planning another event. Please attend city council meeting on Wednesday, October 26. Thank you for coming out today Walnut. We have only begun to fight!
As you know discovering the misuse of bond money by Mt Sac has left UWT and the Walnut community very skeptical of school bonds.
Over the last couple of months members from our organization have been working closely with CALTAN (California Taxpayers Action Network) a taxpayers watchdog group to determine what would be necessary in a favorable bond for the taxpayers. We held a town hall like fundraising dinner that featured CALTAN attorney Kevin Carlin and the Assistant Superintendent Michael Hudson. Community involvement during this dinner was excellent. We participated in and attended a town hall held by WVUSD. We met individually with Superintendent Taylor and Assistant Superintendent Hudson. At every level of our meetings we stressed the importance of transparency and the right of Walnut residents to fully and adequately be informed on what they will vote for or against.
We wanted to ensure the following and they agreed:
1. There was a needs and assessment study conducted.
2. Amount of bond was reasonable (152 million) and addressed the needs. They listened to our earlier concern over a much higher bond of 300 million and reduced it.
3. There was a specific project list identified and committed to.
4. The project list was prioritized.
5. That contracts awarded from bond proceeds would be by sealed competitive bid process.
6. That proceeds from the bond shall be used only for purposes set forth in the bond measure.
7. That the district state anticipated total cost of borrowing for each series of bonds prior to issuance of bond.
These points are a few of the concerns we wanted to make sure the district addressed and implemented in the new bond.
After reviewing the draft bond project list and resolution presented to the WVUSD Board of Trustees, we are confident that the proposed bond reflects what’s best for Walnut schools and community.
We are pleased to announce that UWT board has unanimously agreed to endorse and act as a signatory on the bond measure. Furthermore, CALTAN, the taxpayers watch group, has also endorsed WVUSD bond!
We believe the model and example set by WVUSD is one that should be adopted by other school districts state wide.
We commend our superintendent Dr. Taylor and his staff for their transparency and commitment to community involvement.
Walnut is known for its high quality of education for K-12, passing a school bond that is favorable to the taxpayers ensures the community commitment to education. We do want the best for our children.
Ultimately the decision is yours.
In an effort to bring as much information and transparency to the community, UWT will be hosting an Informational Community Dinner with WVUSD superintendent Dr. Taylor as guest speaker to address all of your questions on Friday, October 14 at 7 pm at the Hibachi Super Buffett.
This is a great opportunity for community dialogue on the school bond and the District of Choice legislation.
Join us to get informed and have your voice heard.
Attached is the flyer with the details.
Summer Community Dinner Event!
We are honored to have as guest speaker Kevin Carlin, the attorney representing taxpayers and organizations throughout California who recently obtained published appellate court decisions clarifying taxpayers’ standing to challenge illegal public contracts; proper school leaseback contracts and conflict of interest limitations applicable to consultants advising public entities.
Mr. Carlin will be speaking on:
1. Results of June School Bond Elections Statewide
2. Anticipated November School Bonds
3. The Correlation Between School Bond Campaign Donations And Contract Awards
4. Pending Legislation to Reform Non-Competitively Bid School Leaseback Contracts
Check out his website at http://carlinlawgroup.com/industry.html
We will also be updating you on the Walnut General Plan, and how you could give our City your input.
Tickets are $30 adults & $10 children 10 or under.
Come join us Friday, June 17, 7 pm at
Hibachi Super Buffet at 1459 N. Citrus, Covina.
For tickets call 213 663-8927 or email requests to
Want clarification on school bonds, join us and get the word out to Walnut friends and neighbors!
This is a fund raising event for United Walnut Taxpayers, a non profit community organization.
We had a great turn out at the Candidates Forum. Over 200 residents participated. Feedback was very positive and those who attended were greatful for the opportunity to meet and hear all six candidates.
Our next event is our fundraising dinner on Friday, March 4, 2016.
Come and get updated on the latest happenings in our City and the litigation against Mt. Sac.
Join us for an evening full of fun and get to know your neighbors.
For tickets call 213 663-8927 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Details on attached flyer
Moderated by Mr. George Lewis retired NBC Nightly News correspondent
Friday, February 19, 7-10 pm
Walnut Senior Center
21215 La Puente Rd, Walnut
All candidates running for City council will be participating!
Andrew Rodriguez , Betty Tang, Eric Ching, Bella Cristobal,
Dino Pollalis and Nancy Tragarz
Get to know the candidates & issues
YOUR VOTE COUNTS!
Candidate Forum Guidelines and Rules;
1) Moderator of the Forum – Moderator shall sort the questions and address them to the candidates.
2) Audience Control – Members from UWT and CAAW will distribute BLANK index cards and collect the questions on the index card and submit to the moderator. All questions must be written on index cards.
3) Question Format – Moderator shall pre-screen the questions for duplication and/or for similar subject/substance. Personal questions/attack will not be entertained.
4) Time Limits – Opening and Closing remarks for each Candidate will be allowed no more than 2 minutes each. The order of the opening and closing remarks will be determined by a blind draw. Candidates will be given no more than 2 minutes to answer each question.