Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead

OneLegacy versus the Monterey Park Residents

OneLegacy versus the Monterey Park Residents

By Nancy C. Arcuri, Editor and Publisher

McCaslin Business Park is located on the southeastern portion of Monterey Park. The cross streets of the park are Potrero Grande, Orange, Saturn, Markland, Fulton and Taylor, which is a residential zone.

In 1998 the voters in Monterey Park approved Measure D that amended the city’s Municipal code from a Manufacturing zone to Office-Professional zone to protect the residents from a manufacturing plant that they considered hazardous to their health and welfare.

In the fall of 2017 the realtor for the late Mr. McCaslin suggested that OneLegacy move into 1977 Saturn Street  (vacant bank building) to create their new Los Angeles Headquarters.

On January 5, 2018 OneLegacy approached the city to request that they purchase 1977 Saturn Street to use for their sale office for their Organ Procurement Organization. They also request that the building be altered with operating rooms so they remove donated organs from brain dead donors at this same location.

The Economic Development Director decided to rename this project as a hospital with a heliport on the roof of the building.

On February 27, 2018 this project was presented to the Planning Commission for their approval of a Conditional Use Permit since their project did not fit into the Office-Professional zone.

The residents stormed the City Hall to object to this illegal use in their neighborhood. They complained that only properties located with 300 feet received the Notices of this meeting that were printed in only English.  For many of the residents English is not their first language.

The residents voiced their opposition and provided proof to the commissioners and city staff that a heliport was not legal in our city based on Ordinance No. 1627 adopted February 11, 1985.

The commissions considered holding another public hearing on March 13th. The city removed the plans to include a heliport as part of the Conditional Use Permit.

The residents again stormed City Hall to object to OneLegacy’s so called hospital since they would not be saves lives but harvesting dead donors’ organs.

The residents disagreed with staff on the use of the property located in an Office-Professional zone within their neighborhoods.

Staff did not address a multitude of issues that included traffic transporting brain dead donors to their center, the removal of the dead bodies and how the organs would be shipped out of our city.

A resident complained to the Fair Political Practices Commission about two members of the commission having possible conflicts of interest since they stated they knew the applicant.

The FPPC did not recognize any possible conflict of interest.

The commissioners closed the Public Hearing and did not take any more testimony.

On March 27, 2018 the Planning Commissioners approved the Conditional Use Permit for a hospital for OneLegacy based on a 2013 City Council adopted Ordinance No. 2097 that made some revisions to the land use regulations.

On April 4, 2018 the City Clerk received a timely written appeal of the decision.  It stated “the reviewing city official and body made errors in their review, consideration, application and final decision”.

The residents paid the city $1,576 for this appeal.

On May 14, 2018 Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian requested documentation under the Public Records Act that included each and every document, email, etc. regarding OneLegacy’s request for the CUP.

She and the other Councilmembers each received a bank box filled with documents, a flash drive and several CDs.

Councilmember Mitch Ing called the City Manager’s office to inquire where was his box of documents since each Councilmember was to receive these documents before the May 16, 2018 Appeal Hearing.

The Council cancelled that meeting since they did not have time to review the documentation to make an informed decision.

On May 30, 2018 Councilmember Real Sebastian locate Measure D that prohibits any hospital use within the O-P zone.

On May 31, 2018 the residents attending the Appeal Hearing were presented an amended agenda and a copy of Measure D for their records. The City Attorney agreed with the ballot measure and stated that OneLegacy’s request for a hospital use would not be granted. They could still occupy the building for administrative purposes.

The Council voted to attend a Closed Door Hearing with the City Manager Ron Bow and Assistant City Attorney Karl Berger since this appeal could end up in a lawsuit.

Mr. Bow wrote an apology to the residents, Councilmembers, appellant and applicant for the errors on this Conditional Use Permit. He also read it into the record. He thanked Councilmember Real Sebastian for locating Measure D before this meeting. He vowed that the city staff would do a better job in researching the city records to locate any ballot measures that could not be amended by the Planning Commissioners or Councilmembers.

Mr. Berger said the Public Hearing could continue by the appeal is a moot point.

Each Councilmember stated they have no conflicts of interest on this issue. Some Councilmembers said that OneLegacy reached out to them but they did not respond to their request to have a meeting with them. Some stated that they had met with CEO Tom Mone in social settings but never discussed their plans to move into Monterey Park.

Matthew Nelson, attorney for OneLegacy threaten the city with a lawsuit since the application should have never been accepted. He said their client lost time and money trying to establish their headquarters in Monterey Park.

Appellant Evelyn Moreno spoke on behalf of the residents who signed the Appeal’s request. She expressed disappointment that the city process hurt OneLegacy, the applicant since the city should have located these laws before OneLegacy applied for a Conditional Use Permit. She referred to the 1985 law banning heliports in the city and the 1998 law preventing hospitals being located in the Office-Professional zone.

While she blamed the city for their mistakes she said that OneLegacy would have violated our Measure D. She said the Planning Commissioners approved the CUP without all of the facts to make a knowledgeable decision. Measure D was voted into law to protect us. We need the city staff to work for us. The voters would pay any legal fees from a lawsuit. OneLegacy was not a good fit for Monterey Park. The staff needs to be accountable to the residents.

I, as a longtime resident since 1971, addressed the Council to remind them that OneLegacy and staff did not address any heavy traffic issues that could reduce the quality of life for the residents and possibility reduce their resale value of their homes.

A registered nurse named Theresa advised the Council, staff and residents on the new laws that require medical personnel to report any deaths to OneLegacy for possible organ donations. She went step by step on how a person is declared brain dead. It is not a scientific fact but an opinion by a medical doctor. A person could still have some brain function but they could be declared brain dead for organ donation purposes. She advised the Council to vote against locating OneLegacy in our city.

Maychelle, a very interested homeowner, said there is no reason for this facility. It is a mortuary that is not permitted in our O-P zone. She called out several commissioners and a councilmember for their inappropriate behavior on this issue.  She asked why our city skirts the law? The staff omitted information from the commissioners and the residents. They need to discuss all of the information. She said the staff worked against the residents. They supported the applicant. Staff needs a better work ethic. It has been an embarrassment for the city. She asked for proof the money went into their account. She asked why the city did not require a CEQA report on this project? This non-profit will not be paying for sales taxes on the donated organs.

Long time resident Dave has lived in Monterey Park for 40 years. We should be at Costco shopping instead of at this meeting. To prevent mistakes the city needs to follow the laws. Someone did not do their job. The staff failed to do their jobs. Council needed to share any dealings with the applicant. They need to be accountable to us. We need a postmortem review on the issue.

The realtor for McCaslin Park still thinks that OneLegacy is a good fit for the city.

Longtime resident and retired attorney Grace said that the staff failed to do their due diligence. OneLegacy is not a hospital since they harvest organs. OneLegacy is wrong on the issue.  The applicant was deceptive. The residents count. She said the police department or the FBI need to research the issue. OneLegacy has too much money. Where does the money come from?

Longtime resident George has been a resident since1967. He lives very close to McCaslin Park. He referred to this issue as “here we go again” in French, another undue burden for the residents and it would lower our quality of life. He recalled the four developers who change our city forever. He referred to the heliport issue at Garfield Hospital; the TELACU housing that changed our civic center, McCaslin Park and the Market Place that will provide much need taxes and the traffic issues. He blames careless drivers at McCaslin Park for killing his pets. They hit and run over them. OneLegacy prompted the heavy traffic issues.

CEO Tom Mone said OneLegacy is disappointed in the zone code. They spent money and time. He said the realtor found the property. There are no conflicts of interest with the Council. He has made donations to the local children. He claimed there would be less traffic then normal. They have no say where the organs go. They are a non-profit. They did not attempt to be a hospital. They want to be a service to the community. He asked the Council to consider their request.

Mr. Bow and Mr. Berger have addressed the issue in black and white for the Council, staff, residents and the applicant.

Councilmember Hans Liang said that he was on the Board of the Chinese Youth Organization from 2011 to 2014. He helped them raise funds for the organization. The voters would decide on the issues. He never met Tom Mone when he served on the Board. He did meet him socially at one of their functions.

Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian asked about a church located in the park. Staff said they could only use it for office space. Currently they are in violation and the code enforcement is working on the issue.

She said she filed under the Public Records Act to get all of the records on this project. It took up a full bank box with a flash drive and several CDs. She thanked the residents. She spoke to Mr. Bow and Mr. Berger about the missing documents. She is confident that Ron Bow will address the issues.

The Conditional Use Permit for a hospital is not valid since Measure D said no hospitals. She thanked Mr. Bow and Mr. Berger. It is a moot point the residents have the final say. Only the voters can change the law. She spoke about the Measure R sales tax for the completion of the 710 Freeway that will not be completed. The cities were given funds to repair their roads. It was not the will of the voters.

She asked that all of the Ballot Measures be posted on the city’s website for everyone to review.

Council cannot change the law. She will vote to uphold the appeal and overturn the Planning Commissions decision. She owes it to the 62,000 residents of Monterey Park.

Councilmember Mitch Ing said he and Teresa were upset over the Planning Commission decision to approve the CUP. They did not think it was a good project. He was ready to file an appeal but he learned that the residents filed it first and paid for it.  The funds should be returned to the residents.

Why call OneLegacy a hospital? Staff forced it with the Conditional Use Permit. Residents pressed the issue. The Planning Commissioners shunned the residents. He thanked Councilmembers Teresa Real Sebastian and Betty Tom Chu, both attorneys for their support over the years. The residents found the data not the staff. It is difficult to serve the city. The Planning Commissioners need to get a CEQA report on this project. He was worried about the human waste from the bodies.

Council did not ignore the people. OneLegcy’s attorney threatened to sue us because the zoning approved in 1998 does not allow a hospital.  The newspapers will report that fact since OneLegacy wants to be part of our community. Ron Bow will handle the staff’s emails that insult the residents. He thanked the residents.

Councilmember Hans Liang said he was looking forward to act as a judge as this issue. He wanted to hear the pros and cons on this project. The law of the people guides the Council. He is glad that Councilmember Teresa Real Sebastian found Measure D. We must support the law. We need to find a way to document all of our laws. They will do their best to follow the laws. We will create a process to make the data available to all.  The laws guide the City Council.

Mayor Pro Tem Peter Chan thanked all of the residents and OneLegacy. He stated that Council could not speak on the issue before the appeal. He read all of the information. He advised everyone that they followed the Brown Act. He thanked both sides of the issue. He has been a resident since the 1980s. He has addressed issues with the Council as a resident. He has served on the Council for 5 years. He is honored and humbled by the residents of Monterey Park. He feels the burden. The Councilmembers are doing their best for the city. He thanked the residents of Monterey Park for Measure D. The people voted it into law. Council cannot revoke it or appeal it. He thanked the Planning Commission for their time and dedication to the city.

Mayor Stephen Lam thanked the residents and appreciated their hard work on the issue and voting for Measure D. He thanked OneLegacy for their interest in the city. Our zoning does not allow their project. The city needs to correct their mistakes.

The Council voted to uphold the Appeal of the Conditional Use Permit and reverse the Planning Commission approval of their Conditional Use Permit for OneLegacy.

City Manager Ron Bow said the cost of the appeal would be refunded to the residents.

Monterey Park residents saved their hometown by voting Measure D into law in 1998 to protect their land use.

A replay of this May 31 meeting can been seen on Monterey Park’s TV cable station and DVD of this meeting will be available at the City Clerk’s office for a $5 fee.

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