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Signal T I B U Services Director Pilar AlcivarMcCoy reported to the Council that federal grant money available for its senior brown-bag program has been reduced to $8,756, an amount that is about $4,000 less than the previous year. The shortfall is a significant hit to the community-services program that operates on a budget of $20,000 to provide groceries every other week to about 40 lowincome seniors. The staff tries its ‘Best is yet to come’ for Bixby Knolls see COUNCIL page 11 Sean Belk Staff Writer Bixby Knolls, the only neighborhood in Long Beach with nine designated signs on the 405 Freeway, is now entering a new chapter. Although the State shut down the redevelopment that helped to turn the corridor along Long Beach Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue into a burgeoning attraction in the last few years through paying for social events, banners and street upgrades, City officials and business representatives said there’s still more work to do, with new improvements and developments underway. “With live theater performances and music entertainment, imagine Bixby Knolls as the entertainment destination in the city of Long Beach… just imagine for a second,” said 8th District Long February 22, 2013 Lawsuit filed by Signal Hill, other cities against WRD for refund of water-pumping fees nears trial Courtesy City of SH Signal Hill will have to find a way to continue feeding its poorer senior citizens with a little less help from the Feds. At the Feb. 19 City Council meeting, Community E Your Weekly Community Newspaper Bags loaded with a mix of groceries await distribution to low-income seniors. Signal Hill’s food distribution program is now short about $4,000 after funding through federal community grants was significantly reduced this year. The city’s community-services department will be attempting to find sponsorships to make up for the shortfall. Staff Writer For more information, see page 8. SERVING BIXBY KNOLLS, CALIFORNIA HEIGHTS, LOS CERRITOS, WRIGLEY AND THE CITY OF SIGNAL HILL Signal Hill to receive less federal funding for its brown-bag program for low-income seniors CJ Dablo N Sean Belk/Signal Tribune Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association Executive Director Blair Cohn and project manager Krista Leaders conduct an opportunity drawing during the State of the District event on Feb. 20. Beach City Councilmember Al Austin during the annual State of the District event, called “Bixby Knolls by the Numbers,” presented by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association (BKBIA) at the Long Beach Petroleum Club on Linden Avenue on Feb. 20. “I’m looking so forward to working together for con- Friday 64° see BKBIA page 14 Saturday Sunday Sean Belk/Signal Tribune Robb Whitaker, general manager of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) addresses the Signal Hill City Council during its Feb. 19 meeting regarding the ongoing lawsuit regarding water-pumping fees that is heading to trial. Sean Belk Staff Writer Even though a judge has ruled twice in a lawsuit brought by Signal Hill and two other cities that the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) illegally imposed fees by not complying with state law, how much money, if any, the water agency will be forced to pay back to the cities has yet to be determined in court. The controversial and complex lawsuit filed by Cerritos, Downey and Signal Hill against the WRD is entering the damages phase of the case. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant first ruled in April 2011 that the WRD’s replenishment assessments (RAs) imposed on cities and private entities for pumping groundwater from aquifers didn’t follow Proposition 218, which requires that property owners be notified and allowed to protest any rate changes. Another judge, Ralph Dau, ruled in December 2012 that the cities have the right to seek a refund for past charges and has recently set March 5 as the date for a trial-setting conference. During a status report on the litigation to the Signal Hill City Council at its Feb. 19 meeting, Steve Myrter, the City’s director of public works, said the case is significant not only because the cities February 22 through February 26, 2013 Monday Tuesday 64° 70° 70° 68° This week’s Weekly Weather Forecast sponsored by: Mostly sunny Partly sunny Mostly sunny Mostly sunny Sunshine & patchy clouds Lo 44° Lo 47° Lo 48° Lo 47° Lo 47° 4340 Atlantic Avenue Uptown Bixby Knolls (310) 200-0298 H O EL VE D R Vol. 34 No. 38 R Mixed-media work on drywall (unfinished) by Shyanne Grandi now have an opportunity to seek a return for “overcharges” imposed from 2007 to 2011, but that WRD may now be forced to comply with Proposition 218 when it adopts future rates, which he said “enables the pumpers to have a...closer review of how RAs are set.” Myrter explained that what initiated the lawsuit was the fact that the WRD has increased its water-pumping rates 83 percent in the last decade, jumping from $112 per acre-foot in 2002 to $205 per acre-foot in 2010. Even after a lawsuit was filed in 2010 to dispute the rising rates, the WRD still raised its assessments by an additional 19 percent to the current rate of $244 per acre-foot, he said. Myrter added that, last year, WRD assessments accounted for 31 percent of the City’s water department operating budget. Robb Whitaker, general manager of WRD and a Signal Hill resident for more than 10 years, however, told the City Council that the cost of importing water to replenish what cities take from underground aquifers has also increased throughout the years, which is much of the reason why the WRD has raised its rates. He said about 75 percent of the WRD’s budget is for purchasing imported water to put back into the ground, since see WRD page 15 PRESIDENTS’ DAY WEEKEND SALE See page 16


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